Bring your unloaded gun: Gun rights supporters plan rallies

Organizers are encouraging gun rights supporters to bring unloaded rifles to rallies at state capitols across the U.S. this weekend, pushing back against a wave of student-led gun violence protests that some see as a threat to the Second Amendment.

A group called the National Constitutional Coalition of Patriotic Americans ...

Missouri Senate approves lobbyist gift ban

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Senate has approved an amendment to the state constitution that would ban lobbyist gifts to lawmakers.

The measure, passed Wednesday in a 20-12 vote, would also change legislative term limits to allow lawmakers to serve more time in one chamber. If the amendment ...

House expected to vote on red flag bill, bump stock ban

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - The Rhode Island House of Representatives is expected to vote on whether to implement a statewide "red flag" policy and ban bump stocks.

The vote is scheduled during the House session at 4 p.m. Thursday. A House committee passed both bills Tuesday amid protests from Second ...

The DNC Still Has A Long Way To Go On Hiring Minority-Owned Businesses

Tom Perez

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

A year after Tom Perez and other Democratic National Committee leaders promised that diversity hiring would be a priority for the party moving forward, racial and ethnic minority-owned businesses still accounted for only 17.6% of the $17.5 million the party spent on consultant work, according to a BuzzFeed News analysis.

In an analysis of the DNC’s spending from March 2017 to February 2018, $3,076,569 in disbursements for telemarketing, direct mail, and consulting work went to minority-owned businesses.

The BuzzFeed News analysis of federal filings shows that over the past year 6.4% of money spent went to black-owned firms and spending on Latino-run firms was less — about 4.3%.

In recent months, Democrats across the country have declared that black people and especially black women are the “backbone” of the Democratic Party after the constituency helped push the party to wins in places once thought impenetrable, like Alabama — the kind of refrain that frustrates minority operatives who want the party to involve a more diverse set of people at the leadership and policy level.

In response to BuzzFeed News, DNC officials said that the committee has been making a wide variety of changes over the past year, some of which aren’t reflected by pure spending numbers in FEC filings. For instance, officials said that some contractor spending in the March 2017 to February 2018 FEC filings were servicing prior agreements made under previous DNC leadership.

"Democrats have won over the past year because we’ve invested in the women and people of color who form the backbone of our party. That commitment doesn’t end with one election or with one news cycle,” said DNC spokesperson Michael Tyler. “Although outside consulting contracts make up only 2% of our overall budget, we’re focused on making sure we realize that commitment in our contracting process. That’s why these efforts are now being led at a senior level by chief operating officer Laura Chambers, who has ended many previously existing contracts.”

Since new leadership has taken charge of the DNC, officials said, it's brought a lot of functions that were previously contracted out to be in house, bringing the DNC’s total spending on outside contracts down to 2% of overall spending. The officials also emphasized that the majority of the party’s spending is on staff salary and benefits, and that currently, staffers of color make up 43% of the DNC workforce and that 57% of senior leadership is female.

In response to BuzzFeed News, the DNC shared a different story of the numbers: Per its method, the party spent $16,065,116.94 on contracts in total, but — removing some nonvendor spending like postage — really spent $10,775,201.21 for the total spending on contracts by including building contracts, like security.

The DNC also include businesses owned by women as a separate category in their diversity statistics. (The BuzzFeed News analysis includes a number of businesses run by women of color and who have consulted for the DNC.) Using that methodology, the DNC reached a figure of $2,264,800.88 spent on minority- and women-owned businesses, including building security, to reach a total of $3,079,216.96 — or 29% minority- and women-owned businesses.

Last February, Tom Perez tweeted that the DNC needed a “top-to-bottom” evaluation of its existing contracts and procurement processes and that contracts should not be “auto-renewed,” in response to DeRay Mckesson asking what the committee’s plan for making sure its money was being directed toward consultants of color.

The DNC has long maintained a lengthy “diversity supplier” list of firms approved to do business with the party where it encourages businesses to self-submit information to be considered for potential contracts. The list counts women, the LGBT community, Asians, Latinos, blacks, and people with disabilities under the same “minority” label, which some in the party have critiqued in the past.

The disparity of contracts awarded to minority firms has long been a sore spot between the national party and black and Latino strategists who feel like the party isn’t prioritizing their commitment to recruiting diverse consulting firms. In 2014, a report from PowerPAC+ found that only 1.7% of the $514 million the DNC had spent on consulting over two political cycles had gone to businesses that were minority owned.

A DNC official said that the committee has also begun a new contract-approval process that tracks all vendors with contracts of $5,000 and above by a breakdown of gender and racial diversity — a level of detail the DNC has not done in the past in tracking its contracting on diversity.

After that report, calls for the DNC to improve its numbers when it comes to diversity resulted in the committee hiring its first chief diversity officer, Greg Hinton, to ensure the party was meeting its goals in hiring diverse staff and in contracting, but the FEC records show that the DNC stopped paying Hinton for his work in November 2016.

DNC officials said Hinton’s duties had become part of the portfolio for the party’s chief operating officer, Laura Chambers.

LINK: From 2015: Democrats Still Haven’t Made Big Changes On Diversity Contracting

GOP slams ‘Lyin’ Comey’ ahead of anti-Trump book tour

Republicans are launching a preemptive strike against former FBI Director James Comey's credibility, labeling him "Lyin' Comey" in advance of his book and publicity tour in which he is expected to trash President Trump.

Mr. Comey begins a national tour next week in support of his book, "A Higher Loyalty: ...

The Latest: Republicans say Greitens allegations disturbing

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Latest on Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (all times local):

9:30 a.m.

Top congressional Republicans from Missouri say allegations against GOP Gov. Eric Greitens are disturbing and disgusting, but they're stopping short of calling for his resignation.

A woman with whom the governor had an ...

Paul Ryan says he’s always been ‘candid’ with Donald Trump

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Thursday he's always been "candid" with President Trump.

"I always act in a way that I think is in the best interest for the country to move us forward and I've always found, especially with my relationship with the president, we have very good, ...

Steve Scalise: GOP can’t be distracted by race for speaker

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise said Thursday that he and his fellow Republican leaders met with President Trump after House Speaker Paul Ryan announced he'll retire at the end of this year.

"What I've always said is first of all I've got a job right now as the House majority ...

Kevin McCarthy: Keeping majority is the main priority for Republicans

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Thursday his main priority is keeping Republicans in the majority.

"What means most to me is that in the next Congress there is an opportunity for a Republican to be speaker and not Nancy Pelosi," Mr. McCarthy, California Republican, said on Fox News.

House ...

High Tech and Government: A Culture Clash

Carl Cannon, RealClearPolitics
Six years ago, while describing the inexorable march of progress, President Obama casually slandered one of his predecessors, Rutherford B. Hayes. In Obama’s telling, Hayes was a hapless Luddite who, when confronted with the newfangled telephone, muttered, “It’s a great invention, but who would ever want to use one?” “That’s why he’s not on Mount Rushmore -- because he’s looking backwards,” Obama continued. “He not looking forward.”