(CNN) – A third generation of the Palin clan is getting in on the increasingly public feud between the family of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and the family of Levi Johnston, Bristol Palin’s ex-fiance who is the father of Gov. Sarah Palin’s infant grandson.
In an issue of US weekly that hit newsstands Wednesday, Chuck Heath, the governor’s father and Bristol Palin’s grandfather, told the magazine that Johnston "’has not contributed anything’" for the infant son, Tripp, he fathered with Bristol.
The strife between the Johnston and Palin clans reached a new level recently when Johnston, his sister, and his mother tried in television interviews to dispel what the Johnstons called false rumors about them.
After an initial appearance by the Johnstons on the Tyra Banks show, a spokesperson for Governor Palin said the teenage father had lied about ever having lived in the Palins' home. Days later, the teenage father struck back in a second interview on CBS, complaining about how the the Palin family is treating him now.
In the US Weekly interview, Heath took issue with Johnston’s recent media rounds.
"'I don't agree with what he's doing right now,’" Heath told the magazine. "'It's not right. He's broke, so he's trying to capitalize on this. I wish he’d take some of this money he’s making and buy some diapers with it.’"
In the Johnstons’ interview with Tyra Banks, the talk show host made a point of emphasizing that the family was not being paid for appearing on her show.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reached an important milestone Wednesday in her quest to pay the debt from her failed 2008 presidential bid: For the first time in eight months, her campaign committee reported having more money in the bank than it owes.
On a day most Americans were preoccupied with filing their federal income taxes, Clinton's campaign committee filed finance documents with the Federal Election Commission, reporting a total of $2.3 million in debts at the end of March, compared with $2.6 million in the bank.
The nation's top diplomat has been steadily chipping away at unpaid campaign bills since suspending her White House bid in June 2008, when her debt peaked at $25.2 million. That amount covered $12 million owed to vendors, as well as the $13.2 million she loaned her campaign from personal funds.
Clinton's campaign was unable to repay that personal loan by the time the Democratic National Convention convened in Denver, Colorado, last August, the deadline mandated by the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The former New York senator was forced to forgive the entire loan amount.
ATLANTA (CNN) – A political surprise created a wide open race for Georgia governor next year, as the leading Republican contender was forced to drop out Wednesday because of medical problems.
An emotional Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle announced he was leaving the race because he will undergo surgery on his neck and spinal cord to fix nerve damage. Choking up and pausing to fight back tears, he called the decision to withdraw "difficult personally," but said we "are all dealt certain cards that we have to face."
At least three other Republicans are seeking the GOP nomination to replace outgoing Governor Sonny Perdue. The GOP is trying to hold the Governor's office after winning it in 2002 in Georgia for the first time since Reconstruction. Three Democrats are already in the race as well.
The 43-year-old Cagle had been positioning to succeed Perdue, and said "things were strongly moving our way."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Secret Service officers were scurrying to close the North Lawn of the White House Wednesday afternoon because of a suspicious package and it appeared that trouble was brewing.
But it turned out that nothing more was brewing than an innocent little box of, yes, tea bags.
The security alert started around 2 p.m. ET, when an unidentified person tossed the box over the gate of the White House and it landed on President Obama's lawn with a thud.
Journalists were quickly banned from moving outside of the press briefing room, and hundreds of protesters gathered for a "Tax Day Tea Party" were quickly shooed out of Lafayette Park as a security robot inspected the package closely.
After about a half hour of high alert, a Secret Service official told CNN the "suspicious package" was merely some tea bags. So the threat was over, and so was the anti-Obama protest.
Updated: 5:05 p.m.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Illinois Republican Rep. Aaron Schock is hoping a recent magazine profile will help him in Washington's bustling social scene.
"'There's no line of young ladies at my door every morning,'" the 27-year-old congressman told Details in an interview for the magazine's May issue. But, "'[m]aybe when they read my Details profile . . .'" Schock added.
The young Republican has come from nowhere to become a rising star in the GOP in just a few months since becoming the youngest member of the 111th Congress.
Schock was voted "hottest freshman" by the readers of the liberal Huffington Post Web site. He was also showered with attention by President Obama, who was hoping to win the young congressman's vote for his $787 billion stimulus plan. (The freshman Republican hopped a ride on Air Force One with the commander-in-chief and attended a presidential town-hall-style event in Peoria, Illinois, but ultimately voted against the bill.)
And Meghan McCain, daughter of former Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain, recently showered praise on Schock, suggesting that the young conservative might be the future of the GOP and calling him a "congressman-turned-TMZ hottie."
Related: TMZ focuses on Schock
With all that attention, the spotlight was inevitably bound to turn to his personal life – a subject he discussed with Details. "He's the only one of his siblings not married with children, and is similarly an outlier among friends," the profile says. "'I had a group of fix or six guys, and we hung and traveled – ski trips and stuff,'" Shock told the magazine. "'They slowly got picked off – married, married, married.'"
WAKEFIELD, Virginia (CNN) - The crowds weren’t drinking tea on Tax Day in southeast Virginia.
At the Shad Planking - Virginia’s annual backwoods carnival of fish and politics - bourbon and beer were the cocktails of choice. And although the candidates for governor who showed up at this year’s event didn’t actually booze, they were definitely taking some shots.
Their main target, as expected, was Terry McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee who decided last year to seek the governorship.
McAuliffe arrived at the Shad Planking making no apologies for the amount of money he’s spending in the 2009 race.
Drivers making their way into Wakefield were overwhelmed by nearly 25,000 “McAuliffe for Governor” signs planted along the roadside, put there by 60 full-time campaign staffers and 40 more volunteers. Circling the skies above the event was a plane towing a sign reading “New Energy, New Jobs: Vote Terry.” McAuliffe even brought along a man dressed in a chicken suit wearing a diaper, meant to demonstrate the candidate’s enthusiasm for turning chicken waste into re-usable energy.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton carefully side-stepped questions today about whether the United States would drop its long-standing insistence that Iran halt its nuclear enrichment program before any talks with the United States.
"We have not dropped or added any conditions," Clinton said at a State Department picture-taking session. But she repeated that the U.S. wants dialogue and engagement with Iran.
She had just met with European Union official Javier Solana who formally had extended an invitation for Iran to join talks with the U.S. and its allies. Clinton said there had been no response to the invitation. But meanwhile inside Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seems to be signaling Washington that talks are possible and that he soon may respond.
"We are looking to have an engagement with Iran but we haven't seen anything that would amount to any kind of proposal at all," Clinton said. "We will continue to work with our allies to make it clear that Iran cannot continue to pursue nuclear weapons."
"We will stand behind the sanctions that have already been implemented and we will look for new ways to extend collective action vis a vis Iran's nuclear program. At the same time we have made it clear to the Iranians …that we are open to engagement with them," Clinton added.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The White House released 2008 tax returns Wednesday for the Obamas and the Bidens.
The president and the first lady reported an adjusted gross income of of more than $2.6 million last year, and paid $855,323 in federal income tax. The Obamas also donated $172,050, to 37 different charities, including $25,000 contributions to CARE and the United Negro College Fund.
The Obamas, who donated $26,270 to Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ in 2007, did not contribute any money to the church in 2008. They donated $240,370 to 33 charities in 2007, including $35,000 to CARE, and $50,000 to the United Negro College Fund.
New York could become the fifth state to legalize gay marriage. Governor David Paterson is expected to introduce legislation tomorrow that would make marriage between same-sex couples legal in New York.
Paterson has previously said he’s committed to bringing “full marriage equality in New York state,” adding it’s a problem that gays and lesbians who live in a civil union aren’t entitled to around 1,300 civil protections that are available to married couples.
Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer introduced the same bill back in 2007 — it passed the Assembly but died in the state Senate. It’s expected the bill would pass the Assembly once again, but would need support from some Republicans in order to pass the Senate.
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(CNN) - New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand accused Republicans of stooping to a "new low" Wednesday amid reports GOP lawyers have challenged her ballot in the election to name her successor in the state's 20th congressional district.
"Their latest move to challenge my ballot is part of a much larger attempt to disenfranchise legal Democratic voters and delay Scott Murphy's inevitable victory in the 20th," she said in a op-ed on the Huffington Post.
The Albany Times Union first reported on Tuesday lawyers for Republican Jim Tedisco objected to Gillibrand's absentee ballot because the senator was in the district on Election Day.
Thousands of absentee ballots remain to be counted in the special election called to fill the congressional seat vacated by Gillibrand when she was appointed to the Senate. As of Tuesday, Tedisco trails by just under 50 votes.
A spokeswoman for Gillibrand said the senator requested an absentee ballot because she did not expect to be able to vote at her polling location because Senate votes were scheduled that day.
"The Republican's challenge is frivolous and without merit," said Gillibrand spokeswoman Bethany Lesser in a statement to CNN.
Lesser also noted New York state law allows a voter to request an absentee ballot if he or she has an expectation to be absent on Election Day. State law further says a voter must intend to be outside of their home county on election day, not the congressional district as a whole. Though Gillibrand was in the 20th congressional district on the evening of Election Day, she did not enter her home county, Lesser said.
Lawyers for Tedisco have not returned CNN's request for comment.