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Tuesday, Jul 29th

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Prosecutor Is Closing In on New Jersey Gov. Christie

Chris Christie“It’s over, it’s done, and I’m moving on.” -- Chris Christie, reassuring potential donors in Utah on June 14th

Back on planet Reality, meanwhile, Paul Fishman, the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, wades through the sewage of Christie’s stewardship. Two sources with intimate knowledge of the case say Fishman’s pace is quickening -- he has empaneled a second grand jury, and the U.S. Justice Department has sent assistant prosecutors and FBI agents to work the case.  

“What’s taking the most time,” according to one source, “is separating what's viable from all the bad stuff they’re finding that may not be viable.”

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US House Republicans Pick New Majority Leader

Kevin McCarthyRepublican lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives have elected an eight-year California congressman as their new majority leader.

Congressman Kevin McCarthy won the internal party election Thursday. As majority leader, the 49-year-old McCarthy becomes the No. 2 Republican in the Republican-controlled House, behind House Speaker John Boehner.

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Prosecutors: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in criminal scheme

Scott WalkerProsecutors claim Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was at the center of a plan to illegally coordinate fundraising with an array of outside conservative groups to help him and several Republican senators survive a 2012 recall election, new court documents show.  In the documents unsealed Thursday, prosecutors spell out a "criminal scheme" by Walker and top aides to circumvent state law and raise money and plan spending by a dozen outside groups during the election.

The prosecutors' filings include an email in which Walker tells Republican strategist Karl Rove that a top campaign aide, R.J. Johnson, was leading the coordination effort and praises Johnson's work.

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Inside the Koch Brothers’ Secret Billionaire Summit

Billionaire summitCharles and David Koch wrapped up their annual summer seminar on June 16 in Dana Point, California, at the St. Regis Monarch Bay resort—a fitting location for two men whose combined net worth is more than $100 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The highly secretive mega-donor conference, called “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society,” featured a who’s who of Republican political elites.

According to conference documents obtained through a source who was in attendance, Representatives Tom Cotton (AR), Cory Gardner (CO) and Jim Jordan (OH) were present, as were Senators Mitch McConnell (KY) and Marco Rubio (FL). Cotton, Gardner and McConnell are all running for the Senate this year; Jordan for re-election in the House. Rubio is widely considered a major contender for a 2016 presidential run. According to the documents, the conference attendees discussed strategy on campaign finance, climate change, healthcare, higher education and opportunities for taking control of the Senate. (The draft agenda is available for viewing here.)

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Hunters: Gun rights have nothing to do with hunting

NRAThere are now some 4 million members in the NRA, and their ability to organize, write elected officials and rally together is something their opponents stand in awe of. Yet because of the group’s continued embrace of Second Amendment issues, and seeming growing distance from what some hunters consider to be issues that matter most to them, the NRA is no longer seen as their greatest advocate in Washington.

“I would say on the record they are absolutely not working for the interests of hunters,” says Ross Lane, an Air Force veteran and director of the conservation group Western Values Project.

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Miami exiles pressure U.S. to loosen policy on Cuba

Cuban exilesCuban exile Joe Arriola at one time would never have dreamed of returning to his homeland while it was under communist rule.

But after 53 years in the United States, the former manager of the city of Miami swallowed his pride and decided he had waited long enough.

Arriola, 67, said a week-long trip to the island last year had opened his eyes to what he now believes is a failed U.S. policy of trying to isolate Cuba.

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Big Oil and Big Guns: Not so strange bedfellows

oil and big gunsOil and gas companies give hundreds of millions of dollars to political campaigns and lobbying groups to further their interests in Congress. In 2012 and 2013 oil and gas spent a combined $24 million on contributions to (mostly Republican) lawmakers in the Senate and the House. In 2013, OpenSecrets.org reported, the oil-and-gas industry spent almost $145 million on lobbying.

Oil and gas donations to advocacy groups relate to issues of oil and gas exploration on land and offshore, climate change, tax increases and approving the Keystone pipeline. But recent research by liberal groups suggests that millions of dollars have also been going to gun groups, such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Safari Club International (SCI), for purposes that seemingly contradict the platforms those groups purport to represent.

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