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Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove is seen at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida August 27, 2012.

Karl Rove's Crossroads group gets a win from the IRS

02/10/16 10:44AM

If you've ever seen some of the Republican attack ads launched by Crossroads GPS, chances are you didn't think the commercials came from a "social welfare" non-profit organization. But we were reminded yesterday that the law in this area can get a little murky.
 
The Washington Post reported on an unexpected decision from the IRS, following years of review.
The Internal Revenue Service has granted tax-exempt status to Crossroads GPS, a conservative group that has aggressively pioneered in a new form of political engagement by nonprofit groups sanctioned by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.
 
The decision by the IRS -- first reported by OpenSecrets.org, the website of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics -- means that Crossroads GPS has been deemed a "social welfare" nonprofit under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code.
Just so we're clear, Karl Rove and former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie created a super PAC several years ago called American Crossroads, which plays a prominent role in Republican politics. Crossroads GPS is a companion entity, which is also a high-profile role in the party, but plays by a different set of rules.
 
One of the benefits of creating a 501(c)(4) non-profit is secrecy: these groups can collect unlimited amounts of money from just about anyone, invest that money in political campaigns, and keep their donors' names secret from the public. The organizations are popularly known as "dark money" groups because there is no disclosure, and the financing is kept in the shadows.
 
What's the catch? Under federal tax law, in order to qualify for non-profit status as a 501(c)(4) "social welfare" group, the organization has to ensure that a majority of its work is not overtly political. Or put another way, for every dollar one of these organizations collect, 51 cents has to go towards some kind of "social welfare" purpose -- and campaign attack ads don't count.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks to the crowd at his primary night rally at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, N.H., on Feb. 9, 2016. (Photo by Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Rubio hopes to recover by focusing on Obama, treason

02/10/16 10:00AM

As recently as last week, things couldn't have been much better for Marco Rubio. The media celebrated his third-place finish in Iowa as if it were a victory; endorsements came rushing in; mega-donors starting lining up; and polls showed him on track for a strong, second-place finish in New Hampshire.
 
Rubio's "3-2-1" plan -- third place in Iowa, second place in New Hampshire, first place in South Carolina -- was on track. The Florida senator was positioned to ride a wave of hype towards his party's nomination.
 
Last week, however, suddenly seems like a long time ago. Rubio choked in Saturday night's debate, embarrassed himself at the worst possible moment, and appears to have come in fifth in New Hampshire. No GOP candidate has ever finished worse than second and gone on to win the nomination. Rubio's chances appear to have been shattered.
 
But the senator still hopes to pick up the pieces, and as TPM reported, Rubio took his message to Fox this morning.
The Florida senator later added that he won't stop talking about how Obama is hurting the country.
 
"One of the things I'm criticized for is saying the truth, and I'll continue to say this: Barack Obama is undermining this country. He is hurting this country. He is doing serious damage to this country in a way that I believe is part of a plan to weaken America on the global stage. This is the truth," Rubio said on Fox.
For any adult looking at reality, it obviously is not the truth, but let's not brush past the specifics of this pitch too quickly. Rubio believes he sees a secret plan, hatched by the president of the United States, "to weaken America" deliberately.
 
In other words, Rubio's comeback plan involves telling voters that President Obama is somehow guilty of treason.
The silhouettes of emissions are seen rising from stacks of the Duke Energy Corp. Gibson Station power plant at dusk in Indiana, July 23, 2015. (Photo by Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg/Getty)

Supreme Court conservatives block Clean Energy Plan

02/10/16 09:23AM

Much of the political world was focused late yesterday on the New Hampshire presidential primaries, and for good reason: the nation's future direction will be shaped in large part by who wins the White House.
 
But away from the Granite State, Americans received a very different kind of reminder about what's actually at stake in 2016. NBC News' Pete Williams reported:
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked enforcement of the Obama administration's ambitious new plan for cutting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
 
The justices granted a plea from 30 states that asked for a temporary hold on the new Clean Energy Plan while the lower courts decide whether the Environmental Protection Agency has the legal authority to impose it.
This was ... wait for it ... a 5-4 decision. The court's Republican-appointed conservatives -- Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Kennedy, and Roberts -- agreed to block the energy policy, while the court's Democratic-appointed center-left justices -- Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan dissented.
 
A New York Times report noted that there is no precedent for the high court taking a step like this: the Supreme Court "had never before granted a request to halt a regulation before review by a federal appeals court." Jody Freeman, a Harvard law professor and former environmental legal counsel to the Obama administration, described the move as "stunning."
 
To appreciate why, let's pause for a moment to consider how we reached this point.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) speaks on stage after declaring victory over Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire Primary on Feb. 9, 2016 in Concord, N.H. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty)

Sanders makes history with New Hampshire landslide

02/10/16 08:40AM

There are plenty of questions about what happens now in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, and those questions matter. But before looking ahead, it's worth pausing to appreciate just how impressive Bernie Sanders' landslide win in New Hampshire really is.
 
For one thing, this would have been very hard to predict when the race got underway in earnest several months ago. Hillary Clinton, who won the New Hampshire primary eight years ago, appeared to have an insurmountable lead over a 74-year-old socialist senator, who was believed to be running as a protest candidate, simply looking for a platform for his ideas. And yet, as the dust settles, Sanders appears to have finished with a roughly 22-point victory.
 
For another, consider that margin in a historical context. Among New Hampshire Democrats, the biggest win ever for a non-incumbent was Michael Dukakis' 16-point victory in 1988. Sanders defeated that record easily. In fact -- here's the really amazing part -- Sanders' 22-point win is actually larger than some of the Democratic primaries in which an incumbent Dem president faced a challenger: Jimmy Carter won by 10 points in 1980 and Lyndon Johnson won by 8 points in 1968.
 
Exit polls offer us some sense of how the Vermont independent pulled it off.
Values and demographics shaped the strong support Bernie Sanders received Tuesday in New Hampshire, according to the NBC News Exit Poll of Granite State Democrats.
 
The Vermont senator won 83 percent of millennial voters under the age of 30. He also won 66 percent of voters who describe themselves as very liberal, and at the same time took 72 percent of self-described independents.
That last point is of particular interest. Among New Hampshire Democrats, Clinton and Sanders actually tied, but independents voted in the primary and propelled Sanders to his record victory.
 
Having set the stage, let's now consider the What It All Means question.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets people as he visits a polling station as voters cast their primary day ballots on Feb. 9, 2016 in Manchester, N.H. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty)

Trump scores easy NH win, reclaims frontrunner status

02/10/16 08:00AM

By definition, a development everyone expected to happen can't be a surprise, but that doesn't make the outcome any less remarkable: Donald Trump, a first-time candidate running on a bizarre platform, won the Republican Party's New Hampshire presidential primary -- easily.
 
The vote tally isn't quite finished, but as things stand, the New York developer is on track to prevail with a margin of victory of 19 points, which is the largest for a non-incumbent Republican since Reagan's 1980 win over three decades ago.
 
In the wake of the Iowa caucuses, in which Trump finished second, the conventional wisdom said the setback put the candidate on a trajectory towards inevitable failure: the Trump bubble had been pierced, the paper tiger had been exposed, and some degree of normalcy had been restored in the nominating fight.
 
No one is saying that anymore. On the contrary, chaos now reigns.
 
As we did after Iowa, let's again try to cut through the noise and break things down from a pitch-vs-hype-vs-truth perspective.
 
Donald Trump
 
The Pitch: "We are going to start winning again!" Trump said in his victory speech. "We are going to win so much. You are going to be so happy."
 
The Buzz: Meet the new GOP frontrunner, same as the old GOP frontrunner.
 
The Truth: It's interesting to see the Republican race effectively reset to where it stood before the Iowa caucuses. At that point, Trump was on track to prevail, and now he's right back where he was. Just as important, the road ahead looks favorable -- Trump enjoys big leads in South Carolina polling -- titling the odds further in his favor.
 
John Kasich
 
The Pitch: The Ohio governor suddenly has the "GOP establishment" lane all to himself.
 
The Buzz: A strong showing in New Hampshire doesn't negate the fact that Kasich is poorly positioned to compete in the next round of primaries and caucuses.
 
The Truth: Kasich deserves enormous credit for implementing an effective New Hampshire strategy, built largely on a foundation of retail politicking and a unique, positive message. His second-place showing, outperforming polling averages, gives the governor renewed credibility as a national candidate. What it does not give him, however, are the resources and organizational structure he needs to move forward. The best case scenario for Kasich: other establishment-style Republicans quickly drop out and endorse him.
Close race in NH means every vote counts

Close race in NH means every vote counts

02/09/16 08:01PM

Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow emphasize that even though projected winners in the New Hampshire primary have been declared before all of the voting is finished, the extremely close race for second place among Republicans means every remaining vote is still very important. watch

Tuesday's Mini-Report, 2.9.16

02/09/16 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Iraq: "In an address to the nation Tuesday night, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi congratulated the Iraqi people on the liberation of Ramadi and the opening of a road connecting the western city to the Iraqi capital, Baghdad."
 
* Texas can't block Syrian refugees: "U.S. District Court Judge David Godbey of Dallas ruled on Monday that it was not up to the courts to interfere with issues that should be handled by the executive branch and that Texas officials failed to prove the state could win its lawsuit challenging the process of finding refugees new homes."
 
* Not sure what to make of this one: "The Obama administration is 'on the verge of taking action' against the Islamic State in Libya, where the terrorist network has flourished in recent months, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told POLITICO on Tuesday."
 
* At the height of the recession, there were 6.8 unemployed workers for every job opening. Now, that number has improved to just 1.4.
 
* Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) decided to issue a written State of the State address, rather than deliver an address to members of Maine's legislature. It's an odd, eight-page document, which uses the word "socialist" a lot.

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About The Rachel Maddow Show

Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.

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