Tag Archives: marsha blackburn

Contempt and a walkout on Blackburn’s abortion panel

Republicans on a House panel investigating the practices of abortion providers voted Wednesday to recommend that a biomedical company and its CEO be held in contempt of Congress, reports Michael Collins.

The vote came after Democrats stormed out of the meeting in protest.

All eight GOP members of the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives voted to proceed with contempt charges against California-based StemExpress and CEO Catherine Spears Dyer, saying they defied congressional subpoenas to turn over accounting records and other documents.

“A subpoena is not a suggestion,” said the panel’s chairwoman, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. “It is a lawful order, and a subpoena must be complied with.”

Democrats argued the panel had no authority to bring contempt charges and accused Blackburn and the other Republicans of a political “McCarthyesque witch hunt” intended to drive fetal tissue providers out of business.

“We would not participate in what we view as a very illegitimate process,” the panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, said after all six Democrats walked out of the meeting just before the contempt vote.

The contempt charges now go to the House Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration and then onto the full House.
The House is expected to adjourn soon for its October recess, so it’s unlikely the full committee will take up the charges until after the November election, Blackburn said.

Wednesday’s chaotic meeting was the latest display of partisan warfare splitting the 14-member investigative panel. It was formed last year after videos surfaced that showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue and organs. Planned Parenthood said the videos were deceptively edited, and a number of state investigations cleared the organization of any wrongdoing.

Regardless, the investigative panel has plowed ahead with its probe of companies involved in fetal tissue procurement, including StemExpress, which provides research labs with cells, fluids, blood and tissue. The company collected fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood and sent it to researchers before ending its association with the abortion provider in August 2015.

Blackburn’s ticket scalping bill clears House

The U.S. House has approved a bill that seeks to stop scalpers from using computer-hacking software to instantly gobble up online tickets for concerts and other live entertainment events, reports Michael Collins.

The Better Online Ticket Sales Act, which passed by voice vote late Monday, would make the use of so-called ticket bots an “unfair and deceptive act” subject to enforcement by the Federal Trade Commission.

The legislation, sponsored by U.S. Reps. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood, and Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., now heads to the Senate.

Scalpers often use bots to evade computer security and buy mass quantities of tickets for concerts and other live events immediately after the tickets go on sale online. They then resell the tickets at much higher prices.

“For years, ticket scalpers have been taking advantage of computer-hacking software to overwhelm online ticketing websites with requests,” Blackburn said. “These anti-consumer tactics have no place in our society, and it’s time we take action to protect fans of live entertainment.”

The bill would make use of ticket-buying bots a civil offense and allow the FTC to take action against online scalpers that use them. Individual ticket buyers also could sue for damages if they are shut out because scalpers used a ticket-buying bot.

Abortion rights group organizes in TN

A national abortion-rights group is organizing in Tennessee and making U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn a special target in the process, reports Michael Collins.

NARAL Pro-Choice America has dispatched a group of activists to Tennessee to help organize a network of supporters who will push to expand access to reproductive rights and abortion services in the state. The network also could be tapped to work to defeat political candidates who oppose abortion.

The program, called Tennessee Total Access, could eventually expand to other red states, said James Owens, NARAL’s states communications director.

“This is a very targeted effort to go into places like Tennessee that have not traditionally been hotbeds of pro-choice sentiment,” Owens said.

The activists have been on the ground in Tennessee since June. They have been going door to door to sign up new NARAL members, buying ads and billboards to spread the abortion-rights message and attending concerts, fairs, festivals and other cultural events to reach other people who favor reproductive rights.

Though the campaign is statewide, most of its resources are focused on Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Clarksville and Murfreesboro. Continue reading

Blackburn pushes corruption investigation of Clinton Foundation

Rep. Marsha Blackburn is asking the FBI and other federal agencies to open a “public corruption” investigation into the activities of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, reports Michael Collins.

In a letter she is circulating to other House members, the Brentwood Republican says media reports have raised significant questions about the foundation’s practices and their intersection with American foreign policy.

“These reports, along with recently discovered information about the foundation’s initial tax exempt filings, portray a lawless ‘Pay to Play’ enterprise that has been operating under a cloak of philanthropy for years and should be investigated,” the letter says.

The letter will be sent Friday to FBI Director James Comey, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen and Edith Ramirez, chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission. Blackburn asks all three agencies to investigate the foundation’s practices.

A spokesman for the Clinton Foundation did not respond to a request for comment.

In the letter, Blackburn suggests the foundation’s international activities are illegal. In its initial filings with the IRS, the foundation said its activities would involve constructing a presidential library, maintaining a historical site with records and engaging in study and research.

“No mention is made of conducting activities outside of the United States, which is one of the codes included in the IRS ‘Application for Recognition of Exemption’ in effect at that time,” the letter says.

Blackburn to speak at GOP convention, downplays VP talk

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said she will speak at the Republican convention in Cleveland this month, but declined to comment on growing buzz that she’s being vetted for vice president, according to Politico.

“I am a very unlikely candidate,” Blackburn said when asked Thursday whether she’s submitted documents to Donald Trump’s campaign for vetting.

She repeated, “I am a very unlikely candidate, we all know that. I am a conservative from a red state. I am a very unlikely candidate.”

Blackburn would, indeed, be an unconventional candidate. She is not from a swing state, representing a conservative western Tennessee district between Memphis and Nashville.

Blackburn, 64, was first elected to the House in 2002. She is an outspoken opponent of abortion rights, and has frequently advised GOP leadership on the issue.

She attended a Thursday morning meeting with Trump at the Capitol Hill Club, and said Trump did a “very good job” during his first confab with the House GOP.

Blackburn renews push for ban on Syrian refugees

U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn took to the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday to make another push for a temporary ban on resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States, reports WPLN. She cited the recent Orlando murders in her speech.

Blackburn has co-sponsored a measure with fellow Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais that would cut off all funding for resettlement until Congress has approved the Obama administration’s plans.

The shooter in the Pulse nightclub massacre was born and raised in the United States; his parents were immigrants from Afghanistan. Authorities also say they have not found any evidence he was in contact with Islamic State, even though he’s reported to have declared his allegiance with the group.

Still, Blackburn says the case suggests Syrians shouldn’t be allowed into the U.S.

That’s because Omar Mateen was twice investigated by federal authorities based on tips he might become violent, but they found nothing.

“This reveals vetting is nearly impossible,” Blackburn says, “and it is one of the reasons … that we need to halt the migration of Syrian refugees until a proper process is in place.”

Supporters of refugee resettlement counter by arguing the process is already tough enough, frequently taking years to complete.

They also argue that it’s rare for a refugee to get involved in extremism.

More often it has been someone who was reared in the U.S. — like Mateen — that carries out an attack.

Democrats call for disbanding Blackburn’s abortion panel

Democrats have ramped up their attacks on an investigation of abortion providers by a committee lead by U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, reports Michael Collins.

In a letter, Democrats called on House Speaker Paul Ryan to disband the investigation committee. Blackburn insists there’s nothing partisan about the investigation and she’s pushing ahead.

“While the panel’s investigation has never been fair or fact-based, its pattern of reckless disregard for safety has escalated over the past few weeks,” said the letter, which was signed by 181 of 188 House Democrats.

The letter describes a litany of alleged abuses by Blackburn and GOP investigators, including misuse of subpoena power to intimidate scientific researchers, doctors, clinics, health-care providers, universities and others. The investigation reached “a new low” earlier this month, the letter says, when the panel issued a news release identifying an abortion provider and his clinic by name.

“The press release’s hyperbolic rhetoric and misleading allegations pose a real danger to the doctor, the staff at the clinic and the patients of the named clinic,” the letter says. “These recent steps are completely outside the bounds of acceptable congressional behavior. We disgrace ourselves by allowing this misconduct to continue.”

Blackburn defended the investigation and fired back at her Democratic critics.

“The question everyone should be asking,” the Brentwood Republican said, “is why are Democrats so afraid of letting the truth come out.”

Ryan didn’t set up the committee, which is formally known as the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives. Former House Speaker John Boehner helped form the 14-member panel and named Blackburn as its chairwoman in one of his final acts before stepping down late last year.

But Ryan also has given his backing to the panel’s work.

Blackburn listed among prospects for Trump running mate

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee has made The Hill’s top ten list of prospective vice presidential candidates for Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee.

The others are New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

Here’s the excerpt on Blackburn:

The outspoken Tennessee Republican is a veteran legislator with more than a decade of experience on Capitol Hill.

She’s vice chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, a member of the Budget Committee and leading the House investigation into Planned Parenthood.

Trump has stumbled on abortion and failed in the eyes of some conservatives as a fierce enough critic of Planned Parenthood.

And having a woman on the ticket could be critical for Trump, who will likely face a rival in Hillary Clinton eager to highlight his past disparaging remarks about women.

Blackburn said she’d be open to being Trump’s vice president as far back as February, when most lawmakers were loathe to be associated with the businessman.

And here’s a comment from Blackburn on Trump, part of a story on the presumptive nominee today in Politico.

And even Republican women — who, by and large, have been turned off by Trump’s rhetoric — are beginning to fall in line with him. Moderate Sen. Susan Collins of Maine told a radio station Wednesday that she’d support him if he quit making “gratuitous personal insults.” And Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee told POLITICO women would “forgive” him of his past remarks.

“I would have preferred some of those comments not be made, but I think that our economy is in such bad shape and people are so concerned about security issues that they are looking for somebody who will get the job done,” she said over the phone on Wednesday. “They are willing to forgive some of those comments they think may have been inappropriate.”

More TN GOP congressmen climb aboard Trump train

U.S. Reps. Scott DesJarlais was the first Tennessee congressman to endorse Donald Trump for president, followed more recently by Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr. After Trump’s win in Indiana Tuesday, other Republican congressmen are pledging their support.

From a Michael Collins report:

“It looks like the presumptive nominee of the party is going to be Donald Trump, and I think Republicans need to unify and get behind the Republican nominee,” said U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Ooltewah.

Fleischmann, who initially backed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, had declined to endorse another candidate after Huckabee dropped out of the race.

…”I will back the Republican nominee for president 100 percent,” Fleischmann said. “If that is going to be Donald Trump, I will certainly get out and campaign for him and support him 100 percent.”

U.S. Reps. Phil Roe of Johnson City and Diane Black of Gallatin also pledged to support Trump.

“As I’ve said from the beginning, I will support our nominee,” Roe said. “It’s time for the Republicans to unite, and I am enthusiastically supporting Donald Trump. I look forward to helping him in any way that I can to take back the White House in November.”

Black said “the three scariest words in the English language today are ‘President Hillary Clinton.'”

“I will support our presumptive nominee, Donald J. Trump, in the general election and call on Republicans across Tennessee to do the same,” she said. “After eight years of failed liberal policies, this is a time for our party to unite and put a conservative in the White House.”

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood didn’t mention Trump by name, but said, “I will support the Republican nominee, and I look forward to seeing a Republican in the White House.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander, as quoted in the Kingsport Times-News: . “Donald Trump wasn’t my first choice, but the people have a right to their choice, and I will support the Republican nominee when we have one.”

Blackburn, other TN congressmen, push ban on robot ticketing

Computer hacking software that instantly gobbles up online tickets for live entertainment events would be a civil offense under bipartisan legislation introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, reports The Tennessean.

The Better Online Ticket Sales Act would make the use of so-called ticket bots an “unfair and deceptive act”, enforceable by the Federal Trade Commission. It also would allow individual ticket buyers to sue for damages if they’re frozen out because someone used a bot.

“It is time to end these anti-consumer tactics and level the online ticket playing field for fans of live entertainment,” Blackburn, R-Brentwood, said in prepared statement.

The proposal is co-sponsored by Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis; Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville; and Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-South Pittsburg.

Scalpers have used bots to evade computer security and buy mass quantities of tickets to concerts and other live events immediately after the tickets go on sale.

Note: Rep. Blackburn’s press release is below.
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