Confessing misdeeds. The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., reports two men have confessed to recording a campaign meeting at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office. They say they made the recording through a door, which they claim is not illegal. The men are members of the liberal group Progress Kentucky. Shawn Reilly, the group’s executive director, has a lawyer and is cooperating with the FBI investigation into the incident. The other man, Curtis Morrison, refused to answer the newspaper’s questions or say whether he had hired an attorney. The recording ended up on the website of the liberal publication Mother Jones earlier this week. In the recording, McConnell’s campaign aides discuss tactics they might use against a potential challenger, actress Ashley Judd. Suggestions included focusing on her bouts with depression and her views on religion, both of which she has openly discussed during interviews throughout her career.
Follow the money. Organizing for Action (OFA), an advocacy group dedicated to promoting President Barack Obama’s agenda, raised just under $5 million in the first quarter of this year. I assume they know he can’t run for office again, but evidently the president and his supporters believe they need money to help push forward his proposals for gun control and immigration reform. But wait … doesn’t Congress make laws? Evidently some donors just want to hang out with the president. In February, The New York Times reported some OFA donors paid $500,000 or more to attend quarterly meetings with the commander in chief. If any of them had their heart set on gun-control legislation, I think they’ll be pretty disappointed.
Blast from the past. Russia is ramping up its space program in what could be a modern day space race. President Vladimir Putin announced today the country would spend $52 billion on its space program through 2020. April 12 is Cosmonaut’s Day in Russia, set to commemorate the anniversary of Yury Gagarin’s historic 1961 space flight. Gagarin became the first person to journey into outer space and orbit the Earth, propelling the Soviets ahead of the Americans in the race to get to the moon. Of course, we all know how that turned out. …
Mall malaise. U.S. consumers are losing interest in shopping, perhaps because their tax refunds haven’t been as big as they had hoped. Retail sales fell in March for the second time in three months. Analysts expected the numbers to stay flat. Thanks to the flagging retail numbers and other economic indicators, analysts cut their growth forecasts for the first quarter. The culprit? That pesky payroll tax that took a chunk out of everyone’s paychecks at the beginning of the year.