Gus Bilirakis

Democrats tried to ‘blackmail’ casino owner to let employees unionize, conservative group claims
Lawmakers say ethics accusations by Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust are baseless

Rep. Mark Pocan, D- Wisc., speaks with reporters as he leaves a House Democrats' caucus meeting in February. Pocan is one of 14 Democrats who wrote a letter to a casino mogul that a conservative ethics watchdog group says was part of an effort to coerce him to allow employees to unionize. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A conservative watchdog group asked the Office of Congressional Ethics on Thursday to review whether 14 Democratic lawmakers and one Republican inappropriately used their office to try to coerce a Las Vegas casino mogul into allowing his employees to unionize.

In May, Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan and 13 other Democrats wrote a letter to Frank Fertitta III, the CEO of the Las Vegas-based casino management company Red Rock Resorts Inc., urging him to “respect the rights of employees” at the company “to form a union and collectively bargain.”

Sexual assaults in the military are on the rise. This bill would authorize Congress to intervene
The bill would allow Congress to intervene in some cases, but would not eliminate a 5-year statute of limitations.

Soldiers, officers and civilian employees attend the commencement ceremony for the U.S. Army’s annual observance of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month in the Pentagon Center Courtyard March 31, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Congress could intervene in legal cases on behalf of military members who have been sexually assaulted under a new bill co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Rep. Brian Mast.

The Florida Republican in late April introduced “Harmony’s Law,” named after his constituent Harmony Allen, who was violently raped by an instructor just three months after joining in the U.S. Air Force in 2000.

Will 2020 Democrats condemn the Armenian genocide?
Only four lawmakers running for president have signed on to remembrance resolutions

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is one of four Democratic presidential candidates who have co-sponsored resolutions recognizing the Armenian genocide. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Whether the slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 amounted to a genocide is still a fraught political question for U.S. presidential candidates more than a century later.

The question for now is how many of the growing field of candidates might weigh in on Wednesday for the annual commemoration. April 24, 1915 is generally considered to mark the start of actions that led to the Armenian genocide.

‘Zombie’ spending marches on as HR 1 faces Senate death, complaint says
Measure would address alleged misuse of campaign accounts after lawmakers leave office

Allegations of using campaign money for personal expenses after leaving office is the subject of a Federal Elections complaint against former Republican Rep. Ander Crenshaw of Florida. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the Senate prepares to face off in the coming weeks over House Democrats’ sweeping political ethics overhaul bill, a provision aimed to curtail so-called “Zombie” campaign spending is getting renewed attention. 

That’s the use of campaign money to pay for personal expenses after a lawmaker has left office. And it’s the subject of two Federal Elections Commission complaints filed this week involving former Republican lawmakers, Florida’s Ander Crenshaw and Georgia’s John Linder

Members of Congress are rich with student debt
Reauthorization of Higher Education Act could affect repayment, affordability

68 members, or 13 percent of Congress, reported that either they or their family members have student loan debt. (Illustration by Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call)

As lawmakers look to reshape the federal loan process in the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, a cohort knows firsthand the pain of rising college costs — 68 members, or 13 percent of Congress, reported that either they or their family members are mired in student debt.

Collectively, the 44 Democrats and 24 Republicans have higher education liabilities of $2.5 million, according to recent financial disclosures. The median student loan debt is $15,000, while average debt is $37,000.

Bilirakis Campaign Accused of Inflating Local Donor Support
Said 90 percent of contributions came from Floridians

The campaign of Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., is accused of inflating the percentage of campaign contributions he said came from Floridians. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Rep. Gus Bilirakis’ campaign  is being accused of inflating the percentage of campaign contributions he’s touting as from Floridians.

In a news release, Bilirakis said almost 90 percent of support he received during the second quarter, from April through June, came from Floridians.

Word on the Hill: Republicans Tour Jordan Airport
Pingree awarded, Veterans History Project discussion, and ‘The Long Road’

New York Rep. John Katko meets refugees at Zaatri refugee camp in northern Jordan. (Courtesy House Homeland Security Committee)

A delegation led by Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., over last week’s recess included a stop in Jordan. The group toured Queen Alia International Airport, the largest airport in the country, to observe aviation security procedures and employee screening.

The U.S. donated passenger screening equipment to Jordan and other countries in 2016 under the FAA Extension, Safety and Security Act.

Word on the Hill: Murphy Walks Again
Updates from the OOC, LOC and Historical Society

Connecticut Sen. Christopher S. Murphy is taking questions as he walks across the Nutmeg State. (Courtesy Murphy via Snapchat)

Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., is making his way across the Nutmeg State on foot … again.

Today is Day Three of the walk. On Monday, he walked from Willimantic to Portland, where he held an evening town hall.

Blue Beats Red in Congressional Soccer Game
Democrats win, 5-3, with second-half outburst

Nevada Rep. Ruben Kihuen scored a goal and had two assists for the Democrats in Tuesday’s rainy Congressional Soccer Game. (Bill Clark/ CQ Roll Call)

On a rainy Tuesday evening in Washington, Democrats won the Congressional Soccer Game but Republicans won the cheering section.

The men and women in blue, with four members of Congress on their team, took home the trophy at the fifth annual Capitol Soccer Classic’s congressional game, 5-3.

Kihuen’s Soccer Injury Led to Politics
Nevada Democrat recalls moment of career-ending injury before professional tryout

Nevada Rep. Ruben Kihuen learned to play soccer growing up in Mexico. (Courtesy Kihuen’s office)

While Ruben Kihuen was running for the Nevada state Senate in 2010, he held a World Cup watch party and saw his former training partner walking out onto the field.

“When he walked in, I was like, ‘You know what? It was the first Nevadan to play in the World Cup and I’m glad it’s Herculez,’” Kihuen said of professional soccer player turned ESPN analyst Herculez Gomez. “Destiny is destiny. For me, I wasn’t destined to be a professional soccer player.”