National Roundup 04-03: Gritty New Jersey a Source of Wealth for Jared Kushner; Duckworth Says Neil Gorsuch Refused To Meet With Her
The following is a round-up of national news from several major states across the country that will be featured on our site on a daily basis:
Christie Action Gives New Rights to N.J. Voters Abroad: New Jersey’s military service members living abroad, as well as any spouses, civil union partners, domestic partners or dependents accompanying them, will soon be able to vote in local and state elections.
Gov. Chris Christie signed into law Friday a measure that makes those changes and also expands the right to vote in local and state elections to U.S. citizens temporarily living abroad but who otherwise meet criteria to vote in New Jersey.
The law takes effect in 90 days — after the June 6 primaries but in time for a November election that will feature candidates for governor and all 120 seats in the Legislature.
As before, U.S. citizens living abroad continue to be able to participate in federal elections in New Jersey provided they have qualifying ties to the state. The law specifies that U.S. citizens born abroad to parents with New Jersey ties are also eligible to vote in federal elections. Citizens living abroad on a permanent basis will not be eligible under the law to vote in local and state elections in New Jersey. [The Record]
Gritty New Jersey a Source of Wealth for Trump’s Son-in-Law: A lengthy financial disclosure form released on Friday by the White House, along with scores of others for senior White House staffers, showed the downscale New Jersey roots of the family business run until recently by Ivanka Trump’s husband.
For instance, in the 12 months before he began his White House employment, Kushner made more than $2,500 in rental income from tenants of Union, New Jersey’s Park Lane Mobile Home Park. A small, industrial lot nearby brought in no more than $5,000. In the town of Wayne, New Jersey, Kushner disclosed ownership of a block of street-level apartments that returned more than $15,000, according to the paperwork.
Kushner’s stakes in such holdings were among the smallest he reported. White House ethics officials said the legally required disclosure document gave a snapshot of the assets and positions Kushner held when he entered his new job as adviser to his father-in-law, and before he would have started selling assets that could pose conflicts of interest. [Reuters]
Duckworth Says Neil Gorsuch Refused To Meet With Her: Two U.S. senators, Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), say President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, has refused to meet with them in the weeks leading up to his confirmation vote.
“Unfortunately, Judge Gorsuch has not made the effort to meet with me in person to answer the serious questions I have about his record and he in fact cancelled a meeting we had previously scheduled,” Duckworth said. “I refuse to vote to end debate on a nominee who refuses to provide any answers to my questions.”
The two had a meeting scheduled on a Wednesday, but Gorsuch canceled and did not provide any dates or times that worked for him to reschedule. Duckworth’s office “made multiple efforts and offered multiple times/dates for both the first meeting and for rescheduling after the cancellation,” according to her office, but Gorsuch didn’t follow up. “If Judge Gorsuch had wanted to meet with the Senator, he shouldn’t have cancelled their meeting without offering any additional times that worked for him,” Duckworth spokesman Ben Garmisa said via email. [Huffington Post]
Gov. Rauner’s ‘Superstar’ Team Runs Into Political Reality: When Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner took office, he boasted of a “superstar” team he’d hired to help remake state government. The team consisted of a consultant with experience helping governors craft spending plans in Florida and California, a former budget office chief from Georgia and the ex-governor of Hawaii. Rauner said they were “the perfect trio” to “help turn our state around.”
Now in the third year of his term, Rauner has yet to enact a full-year budget. The state is mired in a record-breaking stalemate, its credit rating is hovering close to junk status and the unpaid bill pile has reached more than $12.8 billion — more than a third of what the state raises each year from taxes and fees. And just one of the governor’s original three superstars is still on board.
It’s common for politicians to tout an incoming administration as better, brighter and more competent than that of the vanquished predecessor. In Rauner’s case, his pledge to “assemble a superstar ‘A’ team to turn the government around” also was symbolic of a central premise of his candidacy: that a successful businessman could bring fiscal order to state government by recruiting special talent and applying private-sector practices.
That philosophy, however, has run into the political reality that coordination with a Democrat-controlled legislature is required for Rauner to realize many of his objectives. And cooperation has been in short supply at the Capitol since late May 2015, when budget talks first blew up amid finger-pointing and accusations, with the Republican governor on one side and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton on the other. [Chicago Tribune]
Rubio: I’ve Spoken to Trump Three Times About Cuba: Sen. Marco Rubio has kept mostly tight-lipped about what he’s discussed with President Donald Trump on the occasions the two Republicans have met — including over dinner with their wives at the White House.
But Rubio disclosed in a Spanish-language interview this week that he’s used those conversations with Trump to bring up Cuba.
“I’ve spoken to the president of the United States personally on three occasions,” Rubio told Mega TV host Oscar Haza after Haza asked about the future of U.S.-Cuba policy. “I think without a doubt there will be changes in U.S.-Cuba policy.”
Rubio said he and his staff are dealing “very closely” with the White House on the issue, which he expects Trump to address “strategically.” “If the Cuban government is going to behave like a dictatorship, well, then we’re going to deal with them like a dictatorship,” Rubio said, without going into specifics. “We’re not going to pretend it’s changing. There haven’t been any changes — on the contrary, we’ve seen more repression.” [Miami Herald]
Democrat Embarks Early on Second Congressional Campaign to Unseat Ros-Lehtinen: Scott Fuhrman, who lost his first congressional race last year as a political newcomer, says he’s making another run to unseat veteran Miami Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in 2018. And Fuhrman, like many Democrats throughout the nation, hopes that a deeply unpopular President Trump will be the difference-maker in the race for Florida’s 27th Congressional District.
The 35-year-old Miami native told POLITICO Florida that he’s filing the paperwork to officially declare his candidacy Monday. Fuhrman said he miscalculated last year when he launched his congressional campaign only five months before the election. Voters didn’t know who he was. And Ros-Lehtinen is a household name in Miami politics.
“Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen has been telling people what they want to hear instead of what they need to know,” he said. “I want to be known as the truth teller.”
Fuhrman, who runs a family-owned Miami bottling company in business since the 1950s, struggled last year to gain traction or name recognition against the formidable Ros-Lehtinen, a moderate Republican. She first got elected in 1989 and has easily defeated challengers over nearly three decades in office. She beat Fuhrman by 10 percentage points in a district that Hillary Clinton carried by about 20 points. [Politico]