(CNN) – Alaska State Sen. Kim Elton, one of the leading officials to pursue an investigation of Gov. Sarah Palin during the heat of the presidential campaign, has taken a high-level job in the Interior Department.
Palin reacted in a short statement Monday, the day Elton announced his move to Washington.
“Senator Elton pledged his allegiance to President Obama last summer,” said the governor. “We wish him well as he moves on and hope that he uses this job for Alaska’s benefit.”
Palin was the target of an official investigation last year over charges she improperly dismissed a public safety commissioner who refused to fire her sister’s ex-husband, a state trooper. Elton led the legislative investigation of the incident.
The report, released in October, said Palin had the authority to fire the public safety commissioner, and the governor said it cleared her of wrongdoing. But the report also said Palin had abused her power as governor, and had violated state ethics law.
Elton will serve as Director of Alaska Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - President Obama's economic A-team went to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to address questions about the administration's ambitious budget request.
But they also ended up being grilled on everything from the latest AIG bailout to the risk of propping up zombie institutions.
Proposals like Obama's plans to reform federal efforts on health care and energy are big heaves in normal times. Now the president has to sell his budget at a time when many lawmakers are worried about the effectiveness of the government's expensive efforts to stem the economic and financial crises so far.
That was made abundantly clear as Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and White House budget director Peter Orszag testified in hearings before the House and Senate.
(CNN) – A conservative group has launched an ad campaign in support of Republican Jim Tedisco’s fight for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s former House seat.
The conservative Our Country Deserves Better Committee, an independent PAC, announced Tuesday that it will be buying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of television and radio airtime in Albany and New York City over the next few weeks. The group will launch its first radio and television spots on Thursday.
In the first series of ads, the group attacked Democratic candidate Scott Murphy for supporting the economic stimulus bill and said he has a “shameful record of attacking our military.”
“Tedisco’s opponent, Democrat Scott Murphy, is the taxpayers’ worst enemy,” Lew Uhler, Chairman of the National Tax Limitation Committee PAC, said in one of the ads, accusing the Democrat of failing to pay taxes and to vote in several elections. The group also takes aim at Murphy over his support for President Obama’s stimulus plan.
The special election to replace Gillibrand is scheduled for March 31.
The Our Country Deserves Better Committee was started in the past year and released ads supporting Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and attacking President Obama’s policies.
The special election pitting Tedisco against Murphy is a priority for both parties: On Monday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committees paid for an ad for Murphy, while former Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani hit the trail with Tedisco in upstate New York.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Vice President Biden will travel to Brussels, Belgium next week to meet with the North Atlantic Council, the White House announced Tuesday.
“The purpose of his trip is to consult with [NATO] allies on Afghanistan and Pakistan and to ensure that their views help inform the strategic review ordered by President Obama,” the White House said in a statement.
Biden also plans to meet with NATO’s secretary general, senior leaders in the European Union, and Belgian governmental officials.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also headed to Brussels Thursday for an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in preparation for the NATO summit in April.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Obama plans to nominate National Zoo Director John Berry to be Director of the Office of Personnel Management, the agency that oversees the federal government’s work force, the White House said Tuesday.
“From turning around the National Zoo to fostering a more productive work environment at the Department of the Interior, John Berry has a tremendous record of effective management in key public service roles,” Obama said in a statement. “I’m confident that he will provide that same leadership at OPM to help ensure that government works for the American people the way it should.”
Berry previously worked in the Clinton administration in the Treasury and Interior Departments, and as a legislative aide for Maryland Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer.
The White House also announced Tuesday that the President plans to nominate Julius Genachowski to serve as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.
Click here to read the announcement on whitehouse.gov
WASHINGTON (CNN) – As national Democrats eagerly point to Rush Limbaugh’s influence among Republicans, one Virginia Democrat is looking to make the radio host a flash point in this year’s governor’s race.
Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman now seeking his party's nomination for governor, sent a letter Tuesday to the de facto Republican nominee, former state Attorney General Bob McDonnell, asking him to reject Limbaugh’s recent statement that he wants President Obama to fail.
“I know that you and I disagree on many issues, but I'm hoping that we can agree on this: hoping for failure isn't the right way to get our economy back on track,” McAuliffe wrote in the letter. “That's why I'm asking you to join me in condemning the remarks Rush Limbaugh made wishing for the President to fail.”
McAuliffe wrote that Virginians are concerned with getting the economy back on track and that Limbaugh’s comments are not constructive.
“I hope you'll join me in calling for Rush to start taking an approach that reflects the best of what our system stands for,” McAuliffe wrote.
McDonnell campaign spokesman Tucker Martin said McAuliffe "desperately wants our attention."
"And if he wins his competitive and tough primary in June he will get it," Martin said. "Until then, we wish him the best of luck.”
(CNN) - More bad news for New York Gov. David Paterson: in a new poll, the governor's approval rating plummeted 20 points in a month.
Just 26 percent of the state’s registered voters questioned in a Marist poll released Tuesday say they approve of Paterson’s job performance - the lowest approval rating a New York state governor has received in the poll’s 30-year history, and a sharp decline from the governor’s January showing.
Fifty-three percent of those polled said they would vote for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani if the 2010 vote for governor were held today, while 38 percent said they would back Paterson.
Paterson is losing ground against the former Republican presidential candidate – the two were in a statistical standoff in January's poll, and in November's poll the governor maintained a 51 percent to 41 percent lead.
The sitting governor does fare better than former congressman Rick Lazio. Forty-seven percent would support Paterson in a run against Lazio, while 35 percent would back the congressman. Eighteen percent are undecided.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) – Mortgage modifications have a bad rap, yet President Obama is depending on them to stop the foreclosure crisis.
Modifications continue to be pushed as the best way to get struggling borrowers back on their feet. The jury is out on whether modifications work long-term. One recent study showed about half of borrowers with modified loans fell behind within six months.
Still, Obama is giving modifications a central role in his $75 billion foreclosure prevention program.
The program, which starts on Wednesday, calls for loan servicers to lower struggling borrowers' interest rates to 31% of their gross income. The government will subsidize part of the reduction, as well as kick in incentives for the servicers, borrowers and mortgage investors to participate in the modifications.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – One day after the stock market fell to its worst showing in more than a decade, President Obama suggested the current situation offered great investment opportunities for some Americans.
“What you’re now seeing is profit and earning ratios are starting to get to the point where buying stocks is a potentially good deal, if you’ve got a long-term perspective on it,” Obama told reporters Tuesday.
The president and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, visiting Obama in the White House for the first time, took questions in the Oval Office.
Obama dismissed doubts over his plans to reform the banking system. “Well, let me say this: I'm absolutely confident that they will work,” he said. “And I'm absolutely confident that credit is going to be flowing again, that businesses are going to start seeing opportunities for investment, they're going to start hiring again, people are going to be put back to work.
“What I'm looking at is not the day-to-day gyrations of the stock market, but the long-term ability for the United States and the entire world economy to regain its footing. And, you know, the stock market is sort of like a tracking poll in politics. It bobs up and down day to day, and if you spend all your time worrying about that, then you're probably going to get the long-term strategy wrong.
Both leaders also stressed the “special relationship” between the U.S. and Great Britain, and even discussed the possibility of a tennis match, reportedly Brown’s sport of choice.
“I don’t think I could ever compete with you at basketball,” said Brown. “Perhaps tennis.”
This is the second meeting President Obama has hosted with a world leader at the White House since taking office. He met with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso in February.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The chairman of the Democratic National Committee persisted Tuesday in calling attention to his Republican counterpart Michael Steele’s apology to Rush Limbaugh, describing the radio host as “the Wizard of Oz” and “the godfather” of the GOP.
DNC Chairman Tim Kaine told CNN that Steele’s backpedaling from earlier criticisms of the talk show host proves that Limbaugh is "the Wizard of Oz, you know, who kind of oversees everything" in the Republican Party.
Earlier in the day, Kaine told MSNBC that Limbaugh is “clearly the godfather, or the he-who-must-be-obeyed in Republican politics these days.”
“When Chairman Steele over the weekend pointed out that the kinds of comments that Rush Limbaugh has been making, hoping the president will fail, pointing out that those were ugly and incendiary, I thought that that took some guts to say that,” Kaine told CNN.
“But then the fact that he backtracked immediately leaves me wondering, okay, so is Rush Limbaugh the guy that's really in charge of the party?”
Democrats are eager to highlight the GOP skirmish: Kaine made several cable appearances Tuesday and released two statements criticizing Steele after the RNC chair called Limbaugh to apologize for calling him an “entertainer” and saying his comments can be “ugly.”
Story updated 12:36 p.m.