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Romney Gives His 2020 Prediction

The Free Press WV

Addressing high-profile GOP donors, Mitt Romney predicted Thursday that President Trump would slide smoothly into a second term in 2020. “I think President Trump will be re-nominated by my party easily, and I think he’ll be reelected solidly,“ he told business and political leaders including Blackrock CEO Stephen Schwarzman, Michael Bloomberg, Paul Ryan, and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at the Romney-hosted, invite-only E2 summit in Park City, Utah, per the AP.

And while he cited the “strong economy,“ Romney said Democrats “are likely to nominate someone who is really out of the mainstream of American thought and will make it easier for a president who is presiding over a growing economy,“ per Politico. Romney, who is expected to win a Senate seat in Utah, also predicted Republicans would hold the House and Senate come November. “I know a lot of pundits don’t believe that. I think we will,“ he said.

Trump’s Marijuana Comments Put Him at Odds With Sessions

The Free Press WV

Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to move the nation further away from the legalization of marijuana. His boss? Not so much, apparently. President Trump on Friday suggested he will back legislation currently in the works to end, or at least ease, the federal ban on marijuana, reports NPR. “I probably will end up supporting” the bipartisan measure being pushed by GOP Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, said Trump. “I support Sen. Gardner,“ the president told reporters when asked about the bill. “I know exactly what he’s doing; we’re looking at it.“ If the bill becomes law, it would “reshape the pot industry,“ in the words of the Los Angeles Times, and put an end to a crackdown initiated by Sessions earlier this year.

Specifically, the legislation would change the federal Controlled Substances Act to give states free rein to decide how marijuana should be regulated within their own borders, explains the AP. About two dozen states have legalized marijuana in some form, but the issue remains complicated because of a federal classification of the drug that puts it on par with LSD and heroin. Trump’s comments are just the latest example of the president’s soured relations with Sessions. The New York Times notes that Trump’s decision to commute the sentence of non-violent drug offender Alice Johnson earlier this week runs counter to Sessions’ directive in such cases. What’s more, Trump told his aides to look for similar cases in which prisoners were treated “unfairly.“

It’s Confirmed: John Kelly’s Cellphone Got Hacked

The Free Press WV

An email from John Kelly to a colleague when he was secretary of Homeland Security has confirmed that the White House chief of staff’s personal email was hacked in late 2016, reports the Daily Beast. In the June 8, 2017, email, obtained by Buzzfeed through the Freedom of Information Act, Kelly told the official, “Then there is hacking which one of my own personal accounts suffered recently.“ He said the breach led him to do almost everything “by phone or face-to-face comms.“ Politico reported in 2017 that the White House technical support staff identified the breach of Kelly’s cellphone toward the end of 2016, during the transition.

Kelly is not alone. Former Communications Director Hope Hicks was hacked when she was at the White House, and the Obama administration was hacked as well, by Russians. The White House has tried to get staff to put down their cell phones with mixed results, and they’ve been unable to convince President Trump to stop using his phone. The president reportedly continues to use an unsecured commercial cell phone. Some of the hacking may be originating near the White House, reports the Washington Post: A government study found “signs” of sophisticated surveillance equipment near the While House grounds capable of accessing personal cell phone data.

WV Legislative Update

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Last weekend’s weather was one we truly needed, as lakes and rivers are now back to normal levels.  This made for a beautiful Saturday on Elk River for the hundreds of kayak and canoe enthusiasts that floated Elk River between Sutton, Gassaway; for some, on to Sugar Creek and beyond.  Congratulations to all the supporters, volunteers, paddlers and our Braxton Convention and Visitors Bureau for a successful event.  Also, thanks to the members of the BCHS Eagles Band that pitched in to help with the logistics at put-in and take-out sites.  As Elk River is rediscovered by residents and visitors alike, we’ll experience a boost in our local economy and opportunities for new business ventures that make the river a hub for family recreation and fitness.

Last week, I touched on the lack of a cohesive plan to distribute aid to 2016 flood victims as was being managed by the WV Department of Commerce with over $148 million of yet to be distributed aid.  I’m pleased to note that early last week Governor Justice moved the flood recovery from Commerce to General James Hoyer, Adjutant General of the WV National Guard and Air National Guard.  Jim is a top notch administrator and good friend and I have great confidence he and his team will get things moving quickly and efficiently.  Also assisting will be OES Director Jimmy Gianato, who also has extensive experience in emergency response management.

I never understood why the Governor initially determined that the Department of Commerce was a better fit than to rely on experience of the Guard or Office of Emergency Services.

Also mentioned last week: Like nearly all West Virginians, I’ve been disappointed with some of the acts of fiscal irresponsibly demonstrated over the past couple years by the Supreme Court of West Virginia.  Like the previous Senate President, the former Chief Justice and several of the justices spent lavishly on office remodeling well beyond the normal expenditures that can expect periodically.  The $37,000 couch will be well remembered by taxpayers that had their hard earned tax dollars used in such a frivolous manner.  The removal of items from the Capitol for personal use and use of state employees to move items (another couch and historic Cass Gilbert desk) to his home; then, move them to a warehouse when questions were raised; possible misuse of rental cars; and other alleged transgressions are both disturbing and disappointing.

Now, the former chief justice has been suspended without pay by a newly-seated temporary Supreme Court.  After reading the report, the charges are lengthy and serious.  As is normally the case, trying to cover up something usually leads to worse trouble than the actual event(s) you’re trying to keep secret.

As a result, the prospects of the Legislature moving forward to impeach him are very real.  The House minority began efforts to investigate during the 2018 legislative session.  Unfortunately, the efforts, led by Delegate Mike Pushkin, were never acted upon by leadership in the House.  Worse yet, many leaders, including the Senate President, were not only unwilling to proceed but criticized and ridiculed Delegate Pushkin for his efforts.  Now, he and other leaders are singing a different tune, including the Governor.

Everyone deserves a fair hearing and the opportunity to present their side.  However, if the JIC report is accurate, I truly hope Justice Loughry determines that resignation from the court is the best option verses the lengthy spectacle of impeachment.  However, time is running short, as interim legislative meetings are coming up quickly.  Now that all sides seem convinced that he should leave the court, the likelihood of expensive and embarrassing impeachment proceedings are growing each day.  Add to the mix that he apparently was not accurate while under oath in the House budget hearings and also attempted to shift the blame onto others during interviews with multiple press outlets and journalists.

Regardless of the final outcome, this is a blemish on the State’s highest court that will not soon be forgotten.  Meanwhile, the ballot amendment in November to place the state judicial budget under the control of the legislature seems to be picking up steam for passage as these latest examples of abusing taxpayer funds for extravagant spending and other more serious offenses come to light.

Please send your inquiries to my home office:  151 Park Street, Gassaway, WV 26624.  My home number is 304.364.8411; the Capitol office number is 304.340.3142.  If you have an interest in any particular bill or issue, please let me know.  For those with Internet access, my legislative e-mail address is:

You may also obtain additional legislative information, including the copies of bills, conference reports, daily summaries, interim highlights, and leave me a message on the Legislature’s web site at www.legis.state.wv.us/.  When leaving a message, please remember to include your phone number with your inquiry and any details you can provide. Additional information, including agency links and the state government phone directory, may be found at www.wv.gov. Also, you may follow me on Facebook at “Brent Boggs”, Twitter at “@DelBrentBoggs” , as well as the WV Legislature’s Facebook page at “West Virginia Legislature” or on Twitter at twitter.com/wvlegislature.

Continue to remember our troops - at home and abroad - and keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers.  Until next week – take care.

Bernie Sanders Is ‘Proud’ of Son, Won’t Endorse Him

The Free Press WV

If anyone can get Bernie Sanders’ endorsement, it should be his son. But per Axios, Levi Sanders, who’s running for a seat in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, hasn’t received an official thumbs-up. The elder Sanders’ rationale for the political cold shoulder: He doesn’t believe in “dynastic politics.“ He praises his 49-year-old son’s platforms—including raising the minimum wage and “Medicare for All”—and says in a statement he’s “very proud” of his son’s accomplishments, but adds that “Levi is running his own campaign in his own way.“ Vox notes Bernie is popular in New Hampshire (he beat Hillary Clinton there in the 2016 primary) and isn’t exactly “frugal” in handing out endorsements. Levi’s reaction to the familial snub: “You know I’m not Bernie’s son. I’m the son of Larry David’s fourth cousin,“ he joked with the Boston Globe earlier this week.

The Globe notes Bernie’s seeming ambivalence toward his son’s campaign—what the Washington Post deems an “unusual dance”—may have less to do with an aversion to “dynastic politics” and more to do with the fact that Levi’s campaign is widely seen as an “inept” one, which could be an annoyance for Bernie should he make a 2020 presidential run. (Vox rounds up some potentially problematic tweets Levi has written.) “People aren’t sure why he is running,“ former New Hampshire state senator Burt Cohen tells the Globe. Among the roadblocks to his candidacy: He’s contending in a crowded field, has little political experience, and doesn’t even live in the congressional district he’s trying to now lead. A mid-April survey found 82% of those polled had never heard of him.

Have A Minute?‏

The Gilmer Free Press

Since my last newsletter, a lot has happened, and I’m excited to give you the rundown. Last week, I took a congressional delegation trip overseas where I had the opportunity to meet with U.S. troops, military officials, and diplomatic leaders to discuss a wide range of military issues. I also had the chance to meet and personally thank West Virginians serving overseas.


Helping Individuals Impacted by Childhood Cancer

Tuesday was an important day for all those affected by childhood cancer because President Trump officially signed the Childhood Cancer STAR Act into law. I was glad to stand alongside the president, childhood cancer survivors, and others in the Oval Office for this exciting event. Not only will this legislation help the thousands of children affected by cancer, but it will also improve future outcomes and survival rates, providing a new sense of hope and optimism for the future.


Securing Resources for Canaan Valley

Since entering the Senate in 2015, I have worked hard to secure funding for a new Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. After writing several letters to and conducting numerous meetings and calls with officials at the Department of the Interior and the Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as pushing for this project during a recent hearing with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, I was thrilled to announce that the department will provide $7 million in funding for this project. With these new resources, Canaan Valley will now be able to have a facility that not only is safe but will help the refuge grow.


Securing Resources for West Virginia Priorities

Making sure our West Virginia communities, businesses, and programs have the resources they need to succeed is important. As a leader on the Senate Appropriations Committee, I’ve worked hard to advocate for West Virginia priorities when it comes to federal funding. This week, I was proud to announce several grants that will help communities and programs across the state. Learn more about each one below:

  24,763,266 for health clinics in 12 West Virginia counties.

  17,767,672 for several community health centers across West Virginia.

  13,974,736 for improvements at airports in four counties across the state.

  9,657,911 for Head Start services in Charleston and Kanawha County.

  1,786,069 for the Black Lung Coal Miner Clinics Program.

Sincerely,
The Gilmer Free Press
Shelley Moore Capito
United States Senator

The McKinley Capitol Report

The Gilmer Free Press

McKinley Stands for Energy Research and Development

This week, we secured critical funding for clean coal research and development as part of the 2019 appropriations bill that was passed by the House. America, and the entire world, will be reliant on fossil energy for years to come. Research will help us to be a leader in innovation, developing technologies that allow us to utilize our resources more cleanly and efficiently. Not only were we able to block attempts to cut this critical funding, we were able to increase it by $58 million.

This funding also supports hundreds of jobs at the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Morgantown, where they’re performing cutting edge research. They play an important role in strengthening our national security and moving the nation towards energy independence, and this bill will enable them to continue this critical work.


ICYMI: White House Releases Ad Campaign to Raise Awareness of the Dangers of Prescription Opioid Abuse

This week, the White House launched a large public awareness campaign on the dangers of prescription opioid abuse. This campaign is a much-needed step. Our office has been calling on the Surgeon General to engage in such an education campaign for several years. We applaud President Trump for taking this concrete action and for his leadership on the fight against opioids.


June is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

June is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Our office secured an additional $3 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health as part of the bipartisan budget agreement in March. The NIH is America’s leading medical research agency dedicated to finding cures to diseases like Alzheimer’s.

More Jobs Now Available Than the Number of Unemployed Americans
The good economic news keeps coming. The number of available jobs now exceeds the number of unemployed Americans. Thanks to President Trump and the Republican Congress, our economy is firing on all cylinders.


McKinley Applauds Senate Decision to Cancel August Recess

We’re glad to see Senator Mitch McConnell cancelling the Senate’s August recess. Because of historic obstruction in the Senate, there are currently 503 bills the House has passed that are waiting for a Senate vote, including:

• 21st Century Flood Reform Act, which reauthorizes and strengthens our nation’s flood insurance program

• The National Defense Authorization Act, which rebuilds our military and gives our troops a much-needed pay raise.

• The Combat Online Predators Act, which authorizes the maximum penalty for online stalking of victims under 18 years old.

• Veterans Opioid Abuse Prevention Act, which seeks to curb opioid addiction among our veterans by sharing prescription information and reducing abuse.

• Kate’s Law, which equips law enforcement to crack down on criminal illegal aliens who re-enter our nation multiple times after deportation.

Have a great week,

David McKinley
The Gilmer Free Press

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