Stephanie Akin

Charlie Palmer Steak, Men’s Wearhouse – When PACs Pick Up Lawmaker Tabs
Report: Congress members and Candidates spend megabucks in predictable places

Want to know how to live like a Washington insider? You could do worse than peruse the latest report on improper spending in Congress. 

One takeaway: From dining to hotels to shopping, D.C. politicians do not opt for adventure, at least when someone else is paying the tab. 

Bill Meant to Clear Public Access to Congressional Reports Running Out of Time
Measure would require online portal for congressionally mandated reports

A bill meant to clear the way for public access to reports submitted to Congress is in danger of hitting a roadblock, government transparency advocates warned Thursday. 

The bipartisan Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act was approved without objection by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Administration Committee in February and April, clearing the way for consideration on the House floor. 

Alexa, What’s Going on in the House of Representatives?
Project would allow data queries from a smart speaker

What’s the quickest way to find out whether the House is in session? What committee hearings are scheduled? The name of a district’s congressional representative?

Soon, you might be able to ask Alexa.

Trump ‘Insults’ District Residents With Unilateral Court Picks, D.C. Delegate Says
Trump administration wants to nominate D.C. prosecutor to supervisory position

The District of Columbia’s congressional delegate took the Trump administration to task Monday for “refusing to consult with her” on the nominations of a series of federal law enforcement officials who would serve the district.

“The Trump administration continues to ignore the voice and input of D.C. residents when selecting federal officials to serve them,” Eleanor Holmes Norton said in a press release.

Critics Pan Plan to Publish Congressional Research
Transparency advocates say thousands of documents would be left off website

Government transparency advocates were thrilled last spring when Congress ordered its in-house think tank to publicly release its reports.

Now, groups that lobbied for years to end the secrecy surrounding the Congressional Research Service say the website scheduled to launch in September would leave out crucial documents and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars more than it should.

Voters Unmoved By Allegations Against Jordan in Ohio State Abuse Scandal, Poll Shows
Competing narratives surrounding Ohio Republican haven’t dented his ratings

Competing claims about what Rep. Jim Jordan knew or didn’t know about an Ohio sexual abuse scandal this week haven’t made a dent in his public profile, according to a new poll.

Jordan, a powerful Ohio conservative who is considering a run to take Paul Ryan’s place as Republican House leader, is seen as a top contender for that job by 9 percent of Americans, according to an Economist/YouGov poll published Thursday. That’s almost unchanged from last week, when 10 percent of respondents said they had a “very favorable” opinion of Jordan as a House leadership candidate.

GOP Looks Busy If You Count Bills but That’s Not the Whole Story
McCarthy touts record-breaking productivity in the House

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy touted exceptional GOP productivity in a statement this week, citing smashed records for the number of bills passed out of the chamber this Congress.

Yes, the House has passed more bills this cycle, but it is unclear how meaningful that legislation has been.

Poll: Justice’s Stance on Immigration, Voting Rights More Important Than Abortion
Americans also concerned about police powers

Americans want a new Supreme Court justice who shares their views on immigration and voting rights — even more than someone who agrees with them on abortion, according to a new poll. 

Fifty-four and 53 percent of respondents to this week’s Economist/YouGov poll said it was very important that the next Supreme Court justice share their views on immigration and voting rights, versus 47 percent who said the same about abortion rights. And about 49 percent said it was very important to get a justice who agreed with them on police powers.

Trey Gowdy, the Reluctant Congressman
Reclusive yet often in the limelight, retiring S.C. lawmaker is eyeing his next move

Trey Gowdy has been talking about leaving Congress since he arrived seven years ago.

It’s what came to his mind when he ran into an old friend in the weeks after he was first sworn into office in 2011: “I hate this place,” he told Republican strategist Luke Byars that January. “I want to go home.”

Stage Set for 6-way Democratic Primary in Georgia 7th
May 22 race will be among the most crowded in the state

Georgia’s 7th District will have a six-way Democratic primary after a former healthcare professional qualified for the race, according to local news reports Friday. 

The seat is currently occupied by fourth-term Republican Robert Woodall and is rated Solid Republican by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. 

Deadline Approaches on Tim Scott’s Low-Income Tax Incentive
Governors have until March 21 to designate distressed communities where investors can get tax breaks

It took three years for Tim Scott to rally his Senate colleagues around a tax plan he thinks will encourage investment in low-income communities.

Now Scott, who was born in a poor community in South Carolina, has until late March to get as many state officials as he can to sign on. He’s doing it with a national “opportunity” tour of low-income areas, including upcoming visits to Florida and Ohio.

Latest Twist in Russia Investigation Involves Unnamed Member of Congress
Rick Gates’ pleaded guilty to lying about meeting that matched dinner with Rohrabacher

The wide-ranging investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign took an unexpected diversion to Capitol Hill on Friday, when former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about a meeting between his boss Paul Manafort and an unnamed member of Congress.

Gates admitted, according to court documents, that the 2013 meeting was part of a secret multimillion-dollar lobbying campaign for the Ukrainian government and its Russian-backed president, Viktor Yanukovych. Gates also pleaded guilty to conspiring with Manafort to hide the millions of dollars they were paid by the Ukrainian government.

Ethics Committee Acknowledges Investigation of John Duncan Jr.
Tennessee Republican campaign reportedly paid felon son $300,000

The House Ethics Committee acknowledged Tuesday an investigation of Rep. John Duncan Jr, a scion of a Tennessee political dynasty who announced his retirement in July. 

Duncan, a Republican, came under fire that month after reports that his campaign paid his son, John Duncan III, almost $300,000. In the five years since the younger Duncan pleaded guilty to a felony charge of official misconduct. Those payments were made in monthly installments of $6,000 recorded as salary expenses, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. 

Post-#MeToo, Stalled Careers, Alienation Still Haunt Sexual Harassment Victims
Lawmakers say they are aware of challenges

Shortly after Marion Brown’s account of sexual harassment toppled a powerful congressman last fall, she returned to Washington on a frigid afternoon to ask for support from the lawmakers who had lauded her as a hero.

Wearing a smartly tilted fur cap, she left her business cards with aides who, to her, looked two generations her junior. She hoped for a reference, a lead on a new job, a bit of advice. She left the Capitol feeling disappointed, although lawmakers told Roll Call they want to do all they can to help.

Mixed Outcomes for Members Accused of Sexual Harassment in #MeToo Aftermath
Eight have either resigned or announced retirements in recent months

Here’s a look at how several lawmakers have responded to accusations of sexual misconduct since the #MeToo movement began last year.

Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., a member of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, after reports that he had asked a woman with whom he’d had an extramarital affair to get an abortion. Announced Oct. 5, effective Oct. 21.

Hill Staffers Get New Resource in Sexual Harassment Disputes: Their Predecessors
Former aides organize to help current staff deal with workplace complaints

A group of former congressional aides wants to help their successors come forward with sexual harassment and other discrimination complaints. So they’re offering a support network they say will fill in the gaps in a congressional workplace protection law scheduled for a House markup next week.

They have launched a website, congresstoo.org, to collect resources, which include the names of lawyers and a public relations expert who have offered to help current staff members dealing with harassment at work.

Critics Point to Problems With Sexual Harassment Bill
Measure is intended to create more protections for Hill staffers

A bipartisan measure meant to increase protections for congressional employees who complain of sexual harassment and other workplace discrimination could make the process more cumbersome and less transparent, experts on employment law and advocates for victims and government transparency said this week.

Critics agree that the 23-year-old Congressional Accountability Act is long overdue for reform. But they said this one — expected to get broad support when it comes before the House as early as next week — could introduce more problems than it solves, possibly because it was compiled in a rush to respond to the #MeToo movement and the resulting wave of sexual harassment allegations in American institutions.

House Harassment Bill on Fast Track, but Maybe Moving Too Fast?
 

Lawmakers seized on the #MeToo moment to push for sweeping changes to rules dealing with sexual harassment on Capitol Hill. Experts tell reporter Stephanie Akin the current legislation is flawed and could have used more debate and deliberation....
Inspired by #MeToo, Some Staffers Are Telling Congress’ Secrets
Beneficiaries of confidential settlements challenge code of silence

Cody Standiford is not exactly saying #MeToo.  He’s never been a victim of sexual misconduct.

But he may end up helping congressional staffers who have. The Iraq War veteran recently defied a legal agreement to shed light on how Congress handles harassment and discrimination complaints.

Trump v. Bannon: Trial of the Century or Just Trash Talk?
Legal experts doubt president would brave legal scrutiny to follow through on lawsuit threat

It would be the political trial of the century: President Donald Trump versus former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.

But don’t expect the president’s legal threats against his former right-hand man to escalate beyond the cease-and-desist letter from his lawyers, legal experts say.