WASHINGTON (CNN) – South Carolina First Lady Jenny Sanford and her four boys are moving out of the governor's mansion in Columbia and back to their home in Charleston for the upcoming school year.
The wife of South Carolina governor Mark Sanford announced the news in a statement e-mailed to reporters on Friday, days after the family returned from a two-week vacation to an undisclosed location in Europe.
"While we will be leaving Columbia, we will return often, and I will remain engaged in activities in my role as First Lady, acknowledging that my responsibilities to my family come first," she said.
Mark and Jenny Sanford's four boys have attended Heathwood Hall Episcopal School in Columbia, but they will presumably enroll in a new school in the Charleston area.
Updated with Mark Sanford's statement after the jump
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Obama's political operation is signaling a new call to arms, and is urging supporters to push back against vocal opponents who have dominated the recent congressional town hall meetings on health care.
"The same angry groups and right wing extremists we saw at rallies during last year's election are at it again," Mitch Stewart, director of Organizing for America, says in a nearly two-minute long video that will be emailed Friday afternoon to Obama supporters.
"They are spreading lies about the president's plan and with the encouragement of Republican leaders, and funding from their special interest allies they are disrupting pubic events. They are trying to drown out public discourse and legitimate conversation on this issue in communities all across America."
The video shows Stewart sitting in an office and cuts to images of protesters disrupting town halls. Stewart goes on to instruct supporters to visit a Web site to "sign up for events in your community and contact your representatives."
At the conclusion of the 2008 election, Obama transitioned his presidential campaign into OFA, which is now a project of the Democratic National Committee.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Pentagon expressed disappointment that the Senate departed for a month-long August recess without finalizing the nomination of the Secretary of the Army.
On Tuesday, the Senate Armed Services committee approved the nomination for Rep. John McHugh to become the new Army Secretary and Joseph Westphal to be his undersecretary.
The nominations were sent to the full Senate for a vote which did not come to pass because Kansas senators Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts put a "hold" on the nominations. The two Republican senators made the parliamentary move on Thursday because they want the administration to give them information about reported plans to transfer Guantanamo detainees to jails in Kansas or Michigan.
"The Senators requested either assurance that Leavanworth, Kansas was not an option or answer" to questions about the reported plans, according to a statement put out by the senators' offices.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said Friday he would not appoint himself to fill the remaining time left in Sen. Mel Martinez's, R-Florida, Senate term.
Crist, who is running for Martinez's seat, would not speculate on who he might appoint to fill the remaining term, but the governor also noted that "there is not a long list of candidates" for the position.
"This is a very serious thing and I recognize that," Crist told reporters at a briefing in Florida.
"There is not a short list," he said. "There is not a long list, but I am getting a lot of calls and recommendations and volunteers."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Florida, will announce that he is resigning his seat, three GOP sources tell CNN.
The sources said that Martinez will officially announce his intention to step down on Friday. The Florida Republican, first elected in 2004, announced in December of last year that he would retire in 2010.
Florida law states that Gov. Charlie Crist may temporarily appoint someone to the vacant seat until the next general election. As of Friday morning, it was unclear what Crist would do. Crist announced in May he would not seek another term as governor, and instead would run for Martinez's seat.
Martinez is the only Hispanic Republican in the Senate. He joined eight other Republicans Thursday in voting to confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor as the first Hispanic justice to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The protests at town hall meetings on health care reform continue to get louder and more violent.
One event in Tampa, Florida, got particularly ugly… with hecklers and people pushing and shoving. As the Democratic congresswoman addressed the crowd - people chanted "read the bill" and "tyranny."
Hundreds couldn’t even get into the meeting - as demonstrators on both side of the debate shouted at one other.
In St. Louis - there are reports that six people were arrested after health care protests broke out at what was supposed to be a forum on aging held by a Democratic congressman.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was even at the center of about 200 protesters in Denver where she was visiting a homeless clinic. The crowd was loud, but orderly - about half supported the reform and half opposed it.
Pelosi and other Democrats insist these protests at meetings sponsored by Democrats won’t derail health care reform once Congress gets back to work next month.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion, click here
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Rep. Carolyn Maloney is giving up her bid for the U.S. Senate. The congresswoman from New York City announced Friday she would not challenge the state's junior senator, fellow Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand.
"These are unique times with unparalleled challenges and running for the Senate is a full time job. Giving up for a critical period of time, the things I do best - passing legislation, working on the issues, serving New Yorkers would put politics before policy for the next year and a half," Maloney said in a statement.
Gillibrand, a former congresswoman from upstate New York, was named by Gov. David Paterson in January to succeed Hillary Clinton, who stepped down to become secretary of state.
The White House, hoping to prevent a primary fight next year, tried to clear the field for Gillibrand, who will run in 2010 to fill the final two years of Clinton's term. Steve Israel, another congressman from New York who was considering a run against Gillibrand, decided against such a bid after lobbying by the White House.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Two prominent U.S. senators were cleared by the Senate Ethics Committee Friday after a year-long investigation into allegations they received special, unusually favorable terms on mortgages from lender Countrywide Financial.
The six-member committee, split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, found "no substantial, credible evidence" that mortgages given to Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, both Democrats,
violated Senate ethics rules.
At the same time, it concluded that the senators "should have exercised more vigilance in (their) dealings with Countrywide in order to avoid the appearance that (they) were receiving preferential treatment."
In June 2008, it was revealed that Countrywide - one of the companies accused of fueling the subprime mortgage crisis - gave favorable mortgage rates to Conrad and Dodd.
The two senators were enrolled in Countrywide's "V.I.P." program, designed to process and fund home loans for certain customers and senior-level Countrywide employees. Some V.I.P. customers referred by former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo were also known as "Friends of Angelo," according to the committee report.
The committee noted, however, that all V.I.P. and "Friends of Angelo" mortgages were required to meet standards similar to the company's other loans. It also found that discounts offered by the two programs were not the best deals available at either Countrywide or in the broader mortgage marketplace.
Dodd said he sought out Countrywide in 2003 to refinance his two homes - one in his home state of Connecticut and the other in the District of Columbia. He claimed that he never met or discussed the loans with Mozilo.
Conrad used Countrywide in 2004 to obtain a loan for a beach house in Delaware and an apartment building in Bismarck, North Dakota. He told the committee he "briefly" spoke with Mozilo about obtaining a mortgage for the beach house.
The committee concluded that neither Conrad nor Dodd sought to be included in the V.I.P. program. But once they became aware that their loans were "being handled through a program with the name 'V.I.P.,' that should have raised red flags," it noted.
Conrad and Dodd, who insisted they had not acted improperly, both said they were gratified by the committee's finding.
"While I should have shown more vigilance in the appearance of these transactions, the committee has concluded I did nothing unethical, and that is the truth," Conrad said in a written statement.
Dodd, who is facing a tough re-election bid in 2010, said he hopes that the dismissal of the charges "will go a long way towards restoring the bond of trust and confidence that I've worked long and hard to build with the people of (Connecticut)."
But "now that the facts have been aired and the lessons learned, it's time to move on."
The committee's reports on Conrad (pdf) and Dodd (pdf).
WASHINGTON – White House economic adviser Christina Romer has declared the president's stimulus plan "absolutely" is working to slow the decline in the economy, though she still held open the possibility of a second stimulus
package a few months down the road.
Her remarks came ahead of a new unemployment report Friday that showed the unemployment rate fell to 9.4 percent from 9.5 percent in June, the first decline in that closely watched reading since April of 2008. Economists had
expected unemployment to rise to 9.6 percent.
Romer, chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said Thursday that the stimulus package has helped "change the trajectory" in the economy by cushioning what would have been a much steeper fall without drastic government intervention.
"In other words, after we administered the medicine, an economy that was in free fall has stabilized substantially, and now looks as though it could begin to recover in the second half of the year," Romer said during a speech
and question-and-answer session at the Economic Club of Washington.