Republican Rep. Andy Ogles faces serious ethics complaint

An ethics complaint filed by the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan watchdog group, is calling for a federal investigation into Republican Rep. Andy Ogles of Tennessee. The complaint asks that Ogles be investigated for the more than “$1 million of financial disclosure discrepancies [that] provide reasonable basis for OCE to investigate whether Rep. Ogles complied with the Ethics in Government Act (‘EIGA’) and House rules.” The Campaign Legal Center was founded by Trevor Potter, a former GOP commissioner on the Federal Elections Commission. Potter is still the watchdog’s president.

The complaint also requests an investigation into Ogles’ finances in light of the fact that “Rep. Ogles’ financial disclosure statements do not include the assets that he purportedly used to personally loan $320,000 to his campaign committee in April 2022.” The complaint goes on to explain that Ogles provides no sources for where he got that money. This mysterious loan first raised flags in November after it was reported that Ogles has not disclosed any “substantial investments,” nor has he reported even having a savings account.

Adding to the mystery was Ogles' omission of a $700,000 line of credit he reportedly opened in September 2022 with FirstBank. Ogles’ campaign responded to initial financial questions back in 2022 by claiming there were “issues retrieving bank records.” I guess these records are still hard to find.

Last year, Nashville’s NewsChannel 5 did a series of investigative reports on Ogles that raised all kinds of serious ethics questions. The complaint cites the results of these investigations as proof of a pattern of lying on the part of the congressman. The questions being raised about Ogles’ financial dealings are beginning to resemble those that eventually led to the recent expulsion of George Santos.

Some of the questions brought up during the investigation include:

  • Why did the Tennessee congressman lie repeatedly about his educational background, claiming he was an “economist” and allegedly lying about doing graduate work at prestigious business schools at universities like Vanderbilt and Dartmouth?
  • What happened with the missing $23,575 he raised for a children’s burial garden back in 2014?
  • What about the time he described himself as “a former member of law enforcement” who had done work "in international sex crimes, specifically child trafficking,” even though there is zero evidence in his résumé of any of those things?

Donald Trump’s swamp talk seems to have only drawn more and more swampy creatures into the Republican orbit. The CLC summarizes it best with the sentiment that “the similarities between Rep. Ogles and Rep. Santos should not be ignored.”

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Juror and spouse: Texas state Sen. Angela Paxton could vote in trial on husband’s impeachment

On the way to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton becoming a rising figure in the GOP, his wife, Angela, used to entertain crowds with a guitar and a song.

“I'm a pistol-packin' mama, and my husband sues Obama,” she sang at campaign events and Republican clubs in Texas.

When it came time for the high school teacher and guidance counselor to launch her own political career, a $2 million loan from her husband propelled Angela Paxton to a narrow victory for a state Senate seat in the booming Dallas suburbs. Once elected, she filed bills to expand his office's powers, and approved budgets over his state agency and salary.

Now, Sen. Paxton is a key figure in the next phase of Ken Paxton's historic impeachment: as a “juror” in a Senate trial that could put her husband back in office or banish him permanently.

It's a role that raises an ethical cloud over the Senate proceeding. State law compels all senators to attend, but is silent on whether she must participate.

“If it were a trial in the justice system, she would be completely required to (step aside),” said Kenneth Williams, professor of criminal procedure at the South Texas College of Law in Houston. “It’s a clear conflict of interest.”

The trial is to start no later than Aug. 28, and it promises to be quite personal for Angela Paxton.

The 20 articles of impeachment brought against Ken Paxton include sweeping charges of abuse of office and unethical behavior. They include a bribery charge related to an extramarital affair with an aide to a state senator. Another suggested Angela Paxton was involved in the installation of $20,000 countertops at their home, paid for by a political donor.

Angela Paxton hasn't said if she'll recuse herself from the trial. She declined comment when approached by The Associated Press outside the Senate chamber on Monday.

State Rep. Andrew Murr, who led the impeachment investigation in the state House, declined to say if he thinks Angela Paxton should step aside. The Senate gets to set the rules, he said.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick tightly controls the Senate and its 19-12 Republican majority. He suggested to a Dallas television state before last week's House impeachment vote that Angela Paxton will participate in the trial.

“I will be presiding over that case and the senators — all 31 senators — will have a vote,” Patrick told WFAA-TV. “We’ll set the rules for that trial as we go forward and we’ll see how that develops.”

The state constitution requires a two-thirds vote of the chamber to convict. But there is little historic precedent in drafting impeachment trial rules, and nothing with a similar spousal conflict, Williams said.

In nearly 200 years of Texas history, Ken Paxton is just the third official to be impeached and the first statewide official impeached since Gov. James “Pa” Ferguson in 1917.

There's no legal mechanism to force Angela Paxton out of the trial like there would be a criminal trial, Williams said.

“It's up to her ethical standards and compass, basically,” Williams said.

The trial comes not only after Paxton was overwhelming reelected in November, but so was his wife, who cruised to a second term backed by wide support among conservative activists. They included Jonathan Saenz, president and attorney of Texas Values, who has worked closely with the senator on legislation, including a bill she carried this year that banned sexual content in public school libraries.

He said Sen. Paxton “has earned the right to decide what she thinks is best in this situation.”

“Senator Paxton is certainly in the highest category of elected officials in how she treats people and her position. I have high confidence in her moral compass in coming down on the side of what she thinks is best,” Saenz said.

The Paxtons come to each other's aid in politics and legal fights.

Angela pushed Ken to chase his political ambitions in his first run for a House seat in 2002. In 2018, she touted Ken's political expertise and advice in her first campaign for the Senate. That included the $2 million loan from his reelection campaign in a bruising Republican primary.

One of Angela Paxton's first moves as a state lawmaker was filing a bill to give the attorney general's office new powers over licensing exemptions for investment advisers. Ken Paxton was indicted in 2015 for failing to register as an investment adviser while raising money for a technology startup where he was invested and being paid. He has yet to go to trial on the felony charge.

Angela Paxton insisted her bill had nothing to do with his criminal charges, but legal experts said it struck near the heart of his indictment. The bill ultimately failed.

In 2022, Angela was the get-away driver from their house when Ken jumped in the family truck to avoid a process server with a subpoena in a federal abortion lawsuit.

Angela Paxton isn't the only lawmaker with a potential conflict of interest at trial.

The House impeachment articles accuse Paxton of using state Sen. Bryan Hughes as a “straw requestor” for a legal opinion that protected a political donor from property foreclosure.

Hughes has not addressed whether he expects to be called as a witness or if he will recuse himself. He did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

Ken Paxton and his allies, from former President Donald Trump to Texas grassroots organizations, have called the House impeachment process a politically motivated sham, rushed through in the final week of the legislative session.

The suspended attorney general now hopes for a fighting chance in a Senate controlled by Patrick.

When Patrick first endorsed Angela Paxton in that tough 2018 primary, he called her a “dynamic conservative leader and a person of integrity deeply rooted in her Christian faith.”

Patrick this year appointed her vice-chair of the Senate State Affairs committee, and to seats on the powerful finance and education committees.

Mark Phariss, the Democrat who lost to Angela Paxton by 2 percentage points in 2018, noted her sharp political instincts. He predicted she won't step aside from a trial.

“My assumption is she will not recuse herself. Because she does not seem to distance herself from her husband, either when she ran for office in 2018 initially or at any time subsequently,” Phariss said.

Markey calls for Clarence Thomas to resign: ‘reputation is unsalvageable’

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) on Monday called for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to resign amid controversy over the justice’s financial disclosures and ethical concerns about the nation’s highest court.

“I will say what needs to be said: Clarence Thomas should resign from the Supreme Court of the United States. His reputation is unsalvageable,” Markey said at an event to advocate for Supreme Court reforms.

“It is evident that he cannot judge right from wrong. So why should he be judging the country's most important cases, on its highest court?” the senator added.

Recent reporting from ProPublica found that Texas billionaire Harlan Crow paid for Thomas to take part in luxury vacations over two decades without the justice reporting them. Thomas said later that he was “advised” he did not need to disclose the trips. 

Another ProPublica report found that Thomas also didn’t disclose a 2014 real estate deal he’d made with the same Republican megadonor. 

Markey joins Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and a handful of House lawmakers, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), in calling for Thomas to leave the court after the reports sparked renewed debate over ethics standards for the justices.

“Justice Thomas should resign - to uphold the Court and American justice. The unavoidable, sickening appearance of impropriety stains trust & credibility in our whole judiciary,” Blumenthal said earlier this month.

Ocasio-Cortez said “this degree of corruption is shocking — almost cartoonish” and called for Thomas to be impeached.

Markey on Monday gathered with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and others to kick off "the Just Majority bus tour" and push for expanding the court and shoring up ethics standards.

In addition to criticisms about Thomas's ties to Crow, who Markey called "a rich right-wing bad actor pushing a far-right agenda," the senator also criticized Thomas for not recusing himself "on cases about efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, in spite of the fact that his wife was implicated in them."

"We have to ensure that the mockery which Justice Clarence Thomas is actually committing is corrected because it is a violation of public trust," Markey said, adding, "Clarence Thomas is serving on the high court with the highest level of corruption."

Watch AOC let loose on Clarence Thomas on ‘The Daily Show’

This week, longtime “The Daily Show” correspondent Jordan Klepper is taking his turn in the guest host seat. He kicked the week off with a bang, scoring an interview with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on her home turf of New York City.

And while the interview began as a conversation about violence and social services in America, it ended up touching on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ ethics failures, the fight for reproductive rights, and Donald Trump being the only person who is crying for Donald Trump.

RELATED STORY: Supreme Court Justice Thomas' Republican donor buddy also collects Nazi trinkets

After Klepper joked about a theoretical Beyonce Knowles collecting Third Reich memorabilia, Ocasio-Cortez brought the interview back on track and succinctly drilled down to the bottom line:

“Supreme Court justices are required, if they are receiving money from people—they shouldn't even be receiving money from people. This is why we pay salaries to public servants. And if they want to live that kind of lifestyle, then they can resign from the court. They can retire.

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Before Klepper ended the interview, he brought up the orange elephant in the room. Did Ocasio-Cortez think people “were crying,” as Trump claimed, during his recent arraignment on charges of falsifying business records?

“Maybe George Santos and Marjorie Taylor Greene were, but not me,” Ocasio-Cortez said. She went on to say that Trump’s indictment is a symbol of the deep inequalities in our justice system, as she watches “people get treated far worse for doing far less” than Trump. “If you hurt one person, you get ten years in prison. But if you hurt millions of people, you get your name on a building.”

You can watch the whole interview below, as well as read a transcript of the interview.


Witness calls ‘b-------’ on Trump’s claims people were ‘crying’ at arraignment

The Clarence Thomas scandal keeps growing

Clarence Thomas’ lavish vacation getaways are so corrupt, even Republicans think they're bogus

Justice Clarence Thomas has reported up to $750,000 in income from a company that doesn't exist


Jordan Klepper: I considered going into the medical profession. I thought I could play a handsome doctor on TV. Didn't pan out. While we were on the subject of national embarrassment, I had to ask the congresswoman about Clarence Thomas and his BFF Nazi, swag collector, Harlan Crow. I want to talk a little bit about Clarence Thomas. You've said you would even draft articles of impeachment for the things that he's done. Has there been any quid pro quo? And I said quid pro quo, partially because it took all that effort to learn what quid pro quo meant back in the Ukraine days, and it feels apropos of now. And I don't think I used apropos correctly.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: I think that quid pro quo is this bar that doesn't even need to be met. The justice is required by law to disclose something like that. And he hasn't been.

Jordan Klepper: Can you empathize, though? If Beyoncé came through here, wanted to take you on a sweet vacation, wouldn't you say, “Yes.” And let her show you her Nazi memorabilia.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Tell someone about it. But hey, don't! Don't put Bey's name on that.

Jordan Klepper: I'm not saying she has. I'm saying if she invested in Nazi memorabilia to show that she hates Nazi memorabilia, she'd want to show it off.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: And that whole thing is just, I mean, bizarre. You also don't keep the linens around …

Jordan Klepper:--All the Nazi linens?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Yeah. Who does that?

Jordan Klepper: Don't you think if you had $1,000,000,000 and you bought everything, you'd probably eventually get to Nazi linens?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: This is the distraction of that whole issue.

Jordan Klepper: You're right. We're just focused on that as opposed to all the money that's going over to Clarence Thomas. Although if you're a billionaire, can't billionaires have friends?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: They can. Supreme Court justices are required, if they are receiving money from people—they shouldn't even be receiving money from people. This is why we pay salaries to public servants. And if they want to live that kind of lifestyle, then they can resign from the court. They can retire.

Jordan Klepper: Now I want to talk about the court. It's looking as if the Supreme Court is going to rule on some of the conflicting rulings around mifepristone. Who do you think is going to write the final decision that takes away these vital rights from women? Is it going to be the guy who cried over beer or was it going to be the buddy with the Nazi memorabilia guy?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: You know, my hope is that they—we do not get to that point. But we also have to face the reality that the Supreme Court has chosen to give up huge swaths of their own legitimacy. Chief Justice Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, the Republican Party: In them giving up trying to take seriously the legitimacy, the standards, the integrity of the court, they have given up a very large degree of their authority.

Jordan Klepper: The new news in Florida this week is the six-week abortion ban. How do women approach that or fight back against something like that that's happening in Florida?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Of course, there's the standard, like, vote and mobilize. But I'm going to put that aside for a second. We do not have to accept tyranny, and this is a form of tyranny. It is a form of violence. Women will die. People will die because of this decision. And it will be, by and large, the men who signed these laws that are killing the women that will die by them.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: And we have a responsibility to help one another, whether that is supporting organizations that mail mifepristone, which has significantly reduced risk, certainly safer than medications like Viagra. But ultimately, we cannot continue to accept people in power who will abuse others for their own gain.

Jordan Klepper: Indictment week was last week. It might also be a month from now, too. We could have a lot of indictment weeks. How do you think New Yorkers treated former President Donald Trump?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: I think they treated him like a Florida man. He don't belong to us no mo’, okay? You're not from Queens anymore. He's a citizen of Mar-a-Lago at this point.

Jordan Klepper: And you said New Yorkers treated him as such?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Yeah. Why wouldn't we?

Jordan Klepper: Do you think people were weeping when he was booked, as he claims?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Maybe George Santos and Marjorie Taylor Greene were, but not me. Take it back to LaGuardia.

Jordan Klepper: Take it back to LaGuardia, which is in your district?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Yes, it's in my district. And so is Rikers. And so we have, I have to go in every single day watching people get treated far worse for doing far less and then, you know, it's like this red carpet that gets rolled out. I mean, if you hurt one person, you get ten years in prison. But if you hurt millions of people, you get your name on a building.

Jordan Klepper: Congresswoman, thanks for talking with us.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Thanks for having me.

On today’s episode, Markos and Kerry are joined by a friend of the podcast, Democratic political strategist Simon Rosenberg. Rosenberg was one of the few outsiders who, like Daily Kos, kept telling the world that nothing supported the idea of a red wave. Simon and the crew break down his strategy for Democratic candidates to achieve a 55% popular vote in all elections—a number that a few years ago would have seemed unattainable, but now feels within reach.

Fox News Bud Light advertising far more important than Clarence Thomas’ ethics

At the end of March, ProPublica released findings of an investigation that highlighted the financially swampy relationship between Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Texas billionaire, conservative donor, and Nazi artifact collector Harlan Crow. Reports came out showing that not only did Justice Thomas spend an inordinate amount of time with the billionaire—after becoming a Supreme Court Justice—he received possibly millions of dollars in gifts and free travel and lodging for about two decades. 

On top of that, reports came out showing Crow’s generosity toward Justice Thomas included buying up two vacant lots where Thomas’s elderly mother lived, as well as sending $500,000 to “a Tea Party group founded by Ginni Thomas, which also paid her a $120,000 salary.” Clarence Thomas has released an unbelievably weak statement defending the allegations against him, while not denying any of the details in the stories.

It’s the kind of story that, even in passing, anyone would consider to be newsworthy. Polls show that even conservatives agree that the reports about Thomas’ gift and vacation-receiving ways are unethical.

How is the right-wing ministry of propaganda, Fox News, handling the story? What story? Have you not heard that Bud Light did a single online social media advertisement with a trans celebrity?

RELATED STORY: Clarence Thomas allegedly broke one of the few ethics laws that apply to the Supreme Court

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The Washington Post’s Philip Bump analyzed how traditional media outlets like MSNBC, C-SPAN, CNN, and Fox News were covering the news. It turns out that in the case of Fox News, they aren’t covering it all that much. Over a ten-day period after the news broke, Fox News has mentioned Thomas’ name in less than 50 segments, all less than 15 seconds long, according to The Washington Post.

To put this into perspective, over that same period, MSNBC has mentioned Thomas almost 500 times. As for the name Harlan Crow? Fox News has almost never mentioned his name. Here are the ways in which Fox News has framed the myriad stories about gifts, vacations, plots of land, and business start-up monies from Crow to Thomas:

  • April 6: “Clarence Thomas report spurs new calls from Democrats for Supreme Court code of ethics”

  • April 6: “Progressive Democrats call for Clarence Thomas impeachment after reported undisclosed gifts from GOP megadonor”

  • April 7: “Justice Thomas defends trips taken with ‘dearest friends’ after reports say he accepted gifts”

  • April 8: “Democrats press Supreme Court chief justice to investigate Clarence Thomas’ trips with GOP megadonor”

  • April 9: “Report on Clarence Thomas’ travel habits is ‘politics plain and simple’: expert”

  • April 10: “AOC doubles down on ‘ignoring’ abortion rule, Clarence Thomas impeachment: ‘abuse of judicial overreach’”

  • April 10: “Senate Democrats demand Chief Justice Roberts open investigation into Clarence Thomas over ‘misconduct’”

But if Fox News is barely mentioning the Supreme Court story, and talking all the way around the various Donald Trump legal indictments and trials and potential indictments, what are they talking about? According to the analysis, Bud Light. The beer. You see, Bud Light signed a sponsorship deal with internet celebrity Dylan Mulvaney. The deal seems to have included Mulvaney making sure to create product placement social media posts.

Mulvaney’s sponsorship deal led to former celebrities like Kid Rock to start shooting Bud Light cans with guns in protest. Fox News covered that more than 183 times. This coming from the network that spends a considerable amount of of resources trying to torture conspiratorial connections between billionaire Democratic donor George Soros and … everything happening that they don’t like.

Between Clarence and his Big Lying wife, Ginni, these two radical right wing activists have secured their spot in the annals of history under fascism.


Clarence Thomas’ lavish vacation getaways are so corrupt, even Republicans think they're bogus

Supreme Court Justice Thomas' Republican donor buddy also collects Nazi trinkets

Reporting on lavish trips struck a nerve: Clarence Thomas issues defensive statement

New emails show Ginni Thomas trying to get Arizona officials to overturn the election

Murdoch's Fox News empire has launched an all-out war against the makers of Bud Light

On today’s episode, Markos and Kerry are joined by a friend of the podcast, Democratic political strategist Simon Rosenberg. Rosenberg was one of the few outsiders who, like Daily Kos, kept telling the world that nothing supported the idea of a red wave. Simon and the crew break down his strategy for Democratic candidates to achieve a 55% popular vote in all elections—a number that a few years ago would have seemed unattainable, but now feels within reach.