A senior staffer for Rep Jim Himes, D-CT4, confirmed late Wednesday that Himes will serve as finance chair for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the current election cycle.
The DCCC will make the announcement Thursday morning.
“As the Republican majority once again holds jobs, recovery, and the middle class hostage to extreme ideology, it is more important than ever that we fill the House with representatives who will eat, sleep, and breathe opportunity for their fellow Americans,” Himes said Wednesday night. “I’m thrilled to devote myself to that effort.”
The move confirms earlier media reports that Himes had interest in taking a DCCC leadership role.
Himes, currently in his third term, is well-positioned, given his financial-services connections, to be a significant fundraiser for Democrats.
The DCCC could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.
Continuing coverage of the Judiciary Committee’s hearing on Sen. Feinstein’s proposed assault-weapons ban:
The crowd at the hearing, boisterous at other times, was utterly hushed as Newtown’s Neil Heslin, father of 6-year-old Newtown victim Jesse Heslin, testified, the father’s grief pouring across the room like a tsunami wave. Most of the Republican members of the committee had left, the right side of the committee seating area conspicuously empty, but no one who was in the room could forget the father’s broken voice as he described saying goodbye to his son for the last time on the morning of last Dec. 14.
“It was 9:04 when I dropped him off with a hug and a kiss. ‘I love you and I love Mom too,’ he said to me. ‘Goodbye.’” And that was the last time I saw him, as he ducked around the corner.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (AFP photo)
“I remember the hug he gave me … he just held me, and he rubbed my back. … and Jesse said, ‘It’s going to be alright. Everything’s going to be okay, Dad.”
“He was six and a half. The day he was born was the happiest day of my life. The day he died was the saddest. … I was at that Sandy Hook firehouse until 1:30 in the morning — Sen. Blumenthal was there, Governor Malloy was there … that night I went home without my son to an empty house.”
“My son was brutally murdered,” he said tearfully. “He was the love of my life.”
“I fully support the Second Amendment,” he said. “(but) I had a little boy I devoted my life to.”
He said that Jesse was curious about guns — he’s gotten a BB gun the previous Christmas and Heslin had taught him gun safety — and the night before he died he was looking at a gun magazine.
Heslin said on one page was three pictures — one of a Bushmaster .223 semiautomatic rifle, one of a Glock and one of a Sig-Sauer — the three weapons Adam Lanza used the next day.
Heslin said that when he came to the Capitol Wednesday morning, he saw a guard with an assault weapon. “Protecting our Capitol, protecting us now,” he said. “But I can’t believe somebody could bring one of those into an elementary school.”
The second Newtown witness. Dr. William Begg, EMS Medical Director at Danbury Hospital and a Newtown resident, said he was at the hearing for one reason: My goal is to tell you that banning assault weapons will make a real difference.”
“What galls me,” Dr. Begg said, is when people say we should fix mental health before we ban weapons. “What programs get cut first? Mental health!” Begg said.
His voice hoarse with emotion, Begg said, that when you say assault weapons account for a small number of gun deaths, “Don’t tell that to the citizens of Newtown!” It produced a burst of applause.
“To the families of those who lost loved ones,” he said, his voice breaking, “on behalf of the ER, we tried our best.”
And to you lawmakers … please, make the right decision on the behalf of Newtown and Connecticut, and the United States.”
Continued coverage of the Judiciary Committee’s hearing on Sen. Feinstein’s proposed assault weapons ban:
Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, who have been conservative outliers on many issues in the opening days of this Congress, certainly voiced their opposition to an assault-weapons ban, but they showed the political acumen to be much more measured in their approach than, say, Cruz was in going after Chuck Hagel.
Cruz offered condolences to gun-violence victims present in a very carefully worded statement: “I’d like to express the deepest sympathy that law enforcement was not able to prevent” the tragedies.
He said forcefully, “We need to target our efforts at violent criminals. We should not target our efforts toward needlessly restricting” citizens’ rights.
Cornyn sounded much the same note, pointing out through questioning that 4 million “law-abiding citizens” will still have guns classified as “assault weapons” under the proposed ban.
“Call me skeptical,” Cornyn said, because “criminals will continue to get weapons.” He added, “Sixty thousand people killed in Mexico show that drug cartels are not stopped by weapons restrictions.”
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina started by saying, “To all the victims of these shootings, I don’t know what to say, except ‘I’m sorry.’” Then he took the gloves off.
He repeatedly, argumentatively, interrupted U.S. Attorney John Walsh as Walsh tried to point out that law-enforcement is not making cases against people who fail background checks. As Walsh kept trying to respond that Graham was missing the point, the audience erupted into applause, drawing an admonition from Feinstein, who had to be grateful nonetheless for the evidence of support.
Graham, unperturbed, said, “I would argue that the law is fundamentally broken, and we should start fixing the laws we have rather than expanding them.”
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., asked Walsh, “Could you describe for us the events in that movie theater in Aurora, and how they might have been different?”
Walsh replied that while he was limited by his role in what he could say since Aurora is an active case, “It is a matter of public record that a shooting that resulted in 12 dead and 58 wounded took place in a time of 90 seconds.” He added that the Newtown killings occurred in less than four minutes. He cited the Tucson, Ariz., event in which Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot, citing the fact the shooter was disarmed by heroic bystanders when he had to change magazines. Walsh posited the possibility that fewer people would have been shot if the shooter had not had a high-capacity 30-round magazine.
“There is no way we are going to prevent people from engaging in these sorts of attacks completely. What we can do by limiting and banning high-capacity magazines, is you can limit the damage and the tragedy these people cause.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s hearing on the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 opened solemnly, before a packed hearing room, many of the observers gun-violence victims and law-enforcement personnel from gun-tragedy locations.
Feinstein, flanked by a photo of the 26 Newtown victims, opened with a pointed reference to Newtown and the growing number of mass-casualty events over the past decade.
While Feinstein’s tone was dispassionate, her words about the urgent need for an assault weapons ban were certainly emphatic: “It is clear we need a national solution,” she said. She showed a SlideFire Solutions Inc. promotional video of their product, which turns a semiautomatic rifle into a near-machine gun. And she stressed that a ban on high-capacity magazines was a “crucial” part of the bill.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the ranking minority member of the committee, offered his condolences to the families of Newtown victims, but said “I happen to have a different view” about the assault weapons bill. He advocated improving the NICS database of non qualified shooters and mental-health services nationwide, but said he thought the AWB would be ineffective.
The first panel of witnesses, United States Attorney John Walsh of Colorado and Edward Flynn, Milwaukee police chief, spoke forcefully in support of limiting the access to assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Walsh said he hoped he would “never have another predawn phone call” like the one he got about the Aurora tragedy, and he said that while the Justice Department has not taken any position on the ban, it “strongly supports the goals” and “is confident that both the assault-weapons ban and the ban on high-capacity magazines” can be implemented constitutionally.
Flynn said America’s cities are experiencing “slow-motion mass murder every single year.”
“It’s time for Congress to pick a side,” Flynn said. “This time, I hope it’s the side of law enforcement.”
Lee Whitnum attends the Greenwich Democratic Town Committee's annual campaign kickoff and picnic at the Garden Education Center in Cos Cob, CT on Saturday, September 10, 2011.
Lee Whitnum has LoJack on Dick Blumenthal.
Apparently, it needs a new homing beacon.
For five weeks, Whitnum, a disillusioned former Democrat who has publicly and quite controversially condemned America’s relationship with Israel, says she has been trying to serve Connecticut’s senior U.S. senator with a deposition related to a 2011 bar mitzvah ceremony attended by Blumenthal at the Greenwich Town Hall.
“Blumenthal can obviously employ the best security in the world. How is the system supposed to work if he can’t be served like regular folk?” Whitnum said in a news release. “I’m not trying to make a federal case out of this but seriously, this is a federal case. It is his civic duty to accept the questions, answer them honestly, and produce what is being requested. He is not named in the complaint, he is a non-party witness.”
UPDATE: Blumenthal’s office released a statement to Hearst Connecticut Newspapers disputing Whitnum’s claim that the senator has been inaccessible.
“Senator Blumenthal’s office has been working productively with the server for the past several weeks to arrange an appropriate time and place for the service of this subpoena,” the statement said. “The Senator’s office has indicated that the Senator would be willing to accept the subpoena at any time convenient at his home or elsewhere and wishes to cooperate in every way. Unfortunately, previously arranged attempts to meet had to be rescheduled, but we have no doubt this will take place shortly. Any claim that the Senator has been less than fully cooperative is baseless and false.”
The bar mitzvah coincided with a May 13 celebration of Israeli Independence Day by the UJA Federation of Greenwich.
Greenwich officials say the event was not sponsored by the town and is no different from other cultural events and flag-raisings, where different ethnic groups are allowed to celebrate their heritage.
Thwarted in her multiple bids for public office, including U.S. House and Senate, Whitnum has enlisted the services of a Stamford constable to try to serve Blumenthal with papers.
It’s an ironic twist for Blumenthal, who as the former longtime state attorney general is usually the one exercising subpoena powers.
Full disclosure: Whitnum has served the reporter from Greenwich Time who covered the Israeli Independence Day and is also seeking out the photographer who was on the assignment.
“As a lawyer, he is an officer of the court and he should accept the Deposition, fill out the answers and mail it back,” Whitnum said of Blumenthal. “I mean seriously the man has dogged my process server for five long weeks. Enough already.”
DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 16: Michael Waltrip, driver of the #26 Sandy Hook School Support Fund Toyota, during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 16, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Michael Waltrip will be the sentimental favorite in Sunday’s running of the Daytona 500 for Connecticut.
The two-time winner of the “Great American Race” will be driving the No. 26 car as a tribute to the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, 20 of them children ages 7 and under.
Waltrip’s green and white Toyota Camry is emblazoned with a memorial ribbon on the hood the word NEWTOWN on the quarter panel.
This brings up an intriguing juxtaposition, as NASCAR’s fan base is often lumped in with Second Amendment groups such as the National Rifle Association.
That’s not lost on the Agenda Project, a New York City-based political nonprofit organization that leans left.
“The overlap between NASCAR fans, the NRA, and the Republican Party is obvious,” Erica Payne, the group’s founder, wrote Thursday in an e-newsletter.
Payne commended Waltrip for donating $50,000 through his racing company to the help the victims of the tragedy, but seeks to apply a litmus test that is on the minds of many Americans.
“So far both Waltrip and his sponsors have been silent on the issue of gun control reform, as well as specific legislation that could help prevent mass shootings like Newtown: universal background checks, closing the gun show loop hole, and a ban on assault weapons,” Payne wrote.
And how’s this for coincidence?
Last year, the No. 26 car was sponsored by then GOP presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who Payne pointed out received an A+ grade from the NRA for his positions on gun legislation.
U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy, D-Conn., tours Riverscape Marina in Cos Cob with Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei (R) and Selectman Drew Marzullo (D) on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013. The town is seeking federal funding for a pair of overdue dredging projects, including one at the mouth of the Mianus River.
There’s never a Staples when you want one.
It seems U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who is approaching two months into his first term in the upper chamber, is getting the freshman treatment from the congressional printing office.
“Do you have a card?” Murphy was asked this morning by Greenwich Harbor MasterIan MacMillan on a tour of the waterfront in Cos Cob.
The town is lobbying Murphy for federal money for dredging of the Mianus River and Greenwich Harbor.
“I don’t have a card yet, actually,” Murphy chuckled in reply to his hosts.
Nevermind that Murphy was elected all the way back in November to the Senate after serving three terms in the U.S. House.
Murphy is still sporting his 5th congressional district license plate on his Chevy Malibu.
The freshman senator did not pull a Ron Burgundy, however.