John Edwards to open ‘social equality’ law firm in N.C., D.C.

John Edwards — the former Democratic Party rising star and famed trial lawyer whose celebrity political status came crashing down in the wake of an adulterous affair and a campaign finance scandal — is now getting back on the career track, opening a law firm with his daughter Cate.

The firm will have offices in North Carolina and Washington, Politico reported.

“It is a privilege to practice again, and we want to take on cases that, through litigation, change social inequalities in favor of the greater good,” he said in a statement reported by WRAL in North Carolina. “In building Edwards Kirby, we sought a team that has championed the causes of economic and social equality in court and in hundreds of communities across the country.”

SEE ALSO: Rielle Hunter sorry for Edwards affair — as memoir heads to book shelves

Ms. Edwards also had a statement, speaking of the firm’s touted higher mission and her father’s touted desire to help those less fortunate: “His life’s mission, I think, has been to help people. Edwards Kirby is founded for that purpose — to give people a voice, to give the disenfranchised a voice.”

Mr. Edwards has maintained a low profile for more than a year after being acquitted of misusing campaign funds during the 2008 race. He was actually acquitted of one of six charges; jurors couldn’t reach a determination on the other five charges, and the judge ruled a mistrial.

His daughter also made clear that Mr. Edwards had no immediate plans to launch a new political career and said his law firm was not being built for that purpose, Politico reported.

The announcement came just weeks after other media outlets reported on Mr. Edwards‘ former mistress, Rielle Hunter, and the launch of her tell-all book.

Senate Democrats target Rush Limbaugh

Radio personality and strong conservative Rush Limbaugh has become the target of House Democrats for introducing a new resolution urging the House to condemn Limbaugh’s implication that members of the military who question the war in Iraq are “phony soldiers.”

The push by Democrats comes after House and Senate Republicans directed some members of the Democratic Party to vote to denounce an advertisement by in The New York Times last month that referred to General David H. Petraeus as “General Betray Us.” Limbaugh isn’t just getting flack from Congressional Democrats.

Rush Limbaugh

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards also criticized Limbaugh’s comments. According to The Associated Press, Edwards called on Republicans to point the finger at Limbaugh in the same way they came down on Democrats after the liberal advocacy group ran the advertisement criticizing General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq.

Edwards and the campaign of fellow Democrat Chris Dodd took issue with the radio talk show host’s characterization of Iraq war veterans who have spoken out against the war. Limbaugh was responding to a caller who argued that anti-war groups “never talk to real soldiers.”

According to The AP, Edwards stated that “All these Republicans went running to the mic and the TV cameras when ran their ad about General Petraeus. Now let’s see if they really mean it. Let’s see if they’ll speak out against Rush Limbaugh. Let’s see if they’ll challenge him about men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States.”

Limbaugh has since said that the phone call conversation where the term “phony soldiers” was used occurred between himself and a current United States soldier and that he was referring only to one soldier: disgraced, convicted former Army soldier-turned antiwar-activist Jesse Macbeth.

Macbeth falsely claimed to have participated in war crimes in Iraq and received a Purple Heart, but in reality, he was discharged after only 44 days of service, never stepping foot in Iraq.

Macbeth was sentenced to five months in prison for fraudulently collecting more than $10,000 in benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to The AP.
United States conservatives have dominated talk radio and its ardent political debate, but Democrats have begun to fight back against popular radio hosts like Limbaugh who may play a role in the 2008 presidential election. Democrats are attacking the conservative radio host and believe that he has crossed the line with recent comments about anti-war soldiers and African Americans.

More than 40 congressional Democrats signed a letter sent to the liberal media watchdog organization, Media Matters, asking that Mr. Limbaugh’s remarks be renounced. Democrats also took to the Senate floor to demand an apology from Limbaugh for his remarks.

Krista Herald, a senior communications major at John Carroll University said, “The Senate should spent it’s time worrying about legislative business instead of criticizing a private citizen.”

According to The AP, Mark P. Mays, president of Clear Channel, the parent company of Limbaugh’s broadcast, responded to the letter where Democrats called on the network “to publicly repudiate” comments made by Limbaugh “that call into question the service and sacrifice of troops who oppose the war in Iraq.”

Mays also came to Limbaugh’s aid by telling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that while he isn’t certain who Limbaugh was referring to when he used the term “phony soldiers,” the radio talk show host does have a long history of supporting U.S. troops.

White House, Senate Democrats clash over campaign cash

Senate Democrats are increasingly concerned that President Barack Obama’s campaign money machine is sucking up so much cash that it will cut into the party’s aggressive campaign to hold on to the Senate next year, several Democratic sources say.

Democratic senators have already pressed Obama campaign officials — including campaign manager Jim Messina — not to lock up the richest Democratic donors, but the presidential campaign declined to make such a promise.
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Majority Leader Harry Reid and other top Senate Democrats have also asked for at least $10 million in aid from the Democratic National Committee as well as the president’s reelection campaign to help underwrite expensive TV ad campaigns and on-the-ground efforts for crucial Senate races in 2012, according to Democratic sources.

In a recent meeting in Washington, Reid, along with Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.); Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the third-highest ranking Democrat; and Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, made their pitch to Messina, according to Democratic sources.

Messina would not agree to the request not to max out big donors, and no decision was made on the amount of financial backing that Senate Democrats will get from the DNC and the Obama-Biden campaign.

Democrats believe Obama’s robust campaign infrastructure will benefit a number of their Senate candidates in pivotal presidential swing states, but it’s not clear how much emphasis the president’s team will place in a handful of other states where Senate races could determine the balance of power in the chamber next Congress.

“We have a huge number of incumbents who are up this cycle and a lot of them have taken tough votes to enact significant portions of this president’s agenda, and I think that there is a sense that there should be an all-hands-on-deck approach to keep the Senate in Democratic hands,” said one Democratic official familiar with the meeting.

The meeting between Messina and Democratic senators shows that fights over campaign cash are not always straight Republican-Democratic contests. As the 2012 campaign gets started in earnest, there is increased competition for donors across the board as Democrats in the House and Senate scramble to raise money while the Obama-Biden team is vacuuming up money from wealthy Democrats who may soon max out their contributions.

Adding more competition in the race for cash, Democratic operatives have formed a number of new third-party groups, known as super PACs, each of which have sometimes competing goals of electing more House Democrats, Senate Democrats or Obama himself. These operatives are often competing for the same list of wealthy donors.

All this comes at a time of growing concern among Democrats that Obama’s decreasing popularity may limit the amount donors are willing to give to Democratic campaigns.

While nowhere near as intense as the donor scramble going on among GOP presidential hopefuls, Democratic strategists and fundraisers are aware that donor dollars are especially precious in a struggling economy.

“The biggest problem of all is that people are frustrated and disillusioned,” said Peter Buttenwieser, a major Senate Democratic donor and 2008 and 2012 Obama bundler. But Buttenwieser, a philanthropist who is heir to the Lehman Brothers securities fortune, predicted that Democratic incumbents would be well-financed this cycle.

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What do John Edwards and Newt Gingrich have in common? (A look at the week ahead in Congress.)

What do John Edwards and Newt Gingrich have in common? (A look at the week ahead in Congress.)

Don’t be surprised if you hear the names of John Edwards and Newt Gingrich mentioned on the Senate floor this week.

Senate Democrats plan to consider a measure Tuesday that would extend lower interest rates for some federally subsidized college loans and pay for the extension by ending tax breaks for firms with three or fewer shareholders — commonly referred to as “S-corporations.”

Democrats call these types of tax breaks the “Newt Gingrich/John Edwards loophole,” because both former politicians took advantage of a federal tax law that allows those with high incomes to avoid paying Medicare payroll taxes on earnings by establishing S-corporations and treating only a portion of their total earnings as taxable wages.

Newt Gingrich. (JASON REED – REUTERS) News reports cited by Democrats note that in 2010, Gingrich Holdings and Gingrich Productions paid the former House speaker about $444,000 in wages and declared $2.4 million as profits to his S-corporation, allowing Gingrich to avoid $69,000 in Medicare payroll taxes. Edwards did the same starting in 1995, when he paid himself $360,000 each year for four years and treated the rest of his $26.9 million in earnings as company profits, saving him an estimated $600,000 in payroll taxes.

Senate Democrats want to close the tax loophole by requiring S-corporation stockholders earning more than $250,000 annually to count any income from a limited partnership or professional services business as taxable income. The change would be limited to firms that derive at least 75 percent of their revenue from the services of three or fewer shareholders — but Democrats say it would generate enough revenue to pay for the lower student loan rates.

Before last week’s recess, House Republicans passed a bill that would keep college loan rates at 3.4 percent by cutting almost $6 billion from a preventative health fund — a nonstarter for Democrats.

Lawmakers from both parties generally agree in principle that college student loan rates should remain at 3.4 percent, but sorting out how to pay for the low rates could dominate debate on Capitol Hill until the rates are set to expire, on July 1 — if not longer.

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio holds up the gavel after being re-elected to a third term

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio holds up the gavel after being re-elected to a third term.

Homeland security funding is stalled in Congress and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) argues – rather bluntly – that Senate Democrats are to blame.

“The House has done its job,” Boehner declared during a Wednesday media briefing. “Why don’t you go ask the Senate Democrats when they’re going to get off their a– and do something other than to vote no?”

Last month, Boehner’s Republican-dominated chamber passed a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security but included provisions that would undermine President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Democrats said those provisions are a non-starter and repeatedly blocked the legislation from moving forward in the Senate.

“I think it’s clearly stuck in the Senate,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said, according to The New York Times. “We can’t get on it, we can’t offer amendments to it. And the next step is obviously up to the House.”

But Boehner disagreed and argued those who say otherwise need a refresher course on “how a bill becomes a law.”

“The House did its job. We won the fight to fund the Department of Homeland Security and to stop the president’s unconstitutional actions. Now, it’s time for the Senate to do their work. You know, in the gift shop out here they got these little booklets on how a bill becomes a law,” he quipped.

The department will run out of money on Feb. 27 unless Congress can get past the impasse.

Watch Boehner make his comments below, via the Washington Free