Washington (CNN) - The first family paid $1.79 million in federal taxes for 2009 on adjusted gross income of $5.5 million, mostly from the sale of President Barack Obama's books, the White House announced Thursday.
Obama and first lady Michelle Obama reported $329,100 in donations to 40 different charities, with the largest reported contributions being $50,000 each to CARE and the United Negro College Fund, according to their federal tax return posted on the White House Web site.
In addition, Obama donated the $1.4 million Nobel Prize money to 10 charities, the White House said.
Under tax laws, it said, Obama's decision to donate the prize money to charity meant he didn't have to list it as income, and couldn't declare it for a charitable deduction.
The White House also posted the 2009 federal tax returns for Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, showing they paid $71,147 in taxes on adjusted gross income of $333,182.
The Bidens contributed $4,820 to charity in both monetary and in-kind contributions, according to the return.
Washington (CNN) - According to fundraising numbers released Thursday by Sen. Arlen Specter's re-election campaign, the five-term senator raised only half as much cash as his probable Republican challenger in the first three months of 2010.
Specter, a Democrat, brought in $1.16 million in the first quarter, while his likely Republican opponent, Pat Toomey, reported a haul of $2.3 million over the same period.
Specter switched from the Republican to Democratic party in part because he did not want to face Toomey, the former president of the conservative group Club for Growth, in a primary challenge.
But Specter's campaign said the senator has $9.06 million cash on hand, far more than Toomey's reported $4 million.
(CNN) – Florida Gov. Charlie Crist Thursday vetoed an education bill favored by state Republican lawmakers and grassroots conservatives.
The legislation, considered one of the most far reaching in the country, would have made the process of firing Florida teachers easier. Teachers and many parents opposed the bill, which would have linked educators pay to student test scores.
Some political watchers say that Crist's veto may be a signal that the governor is positioning himself as a centrist and giving up his bid against Marco Rubio for the Republican Senate nomination.
A Quinnipiac University poll indicates that Rubio, the former state house speaker and a darling with conservative activists, leads Crist by 23 points among Republican primary voters. But the survey of Florida voters, released Thursday, also indicates that Crist, if he chose to run as an independent, would hold a narrow edge in a three-way contest with Rubio and Rep. Kendrick Meek, the Democratic candidate in the race.
Washington (CNN) – Leaders of the Tea Party Express marked Tax Day Thursday by celebrating their efforts over the last year and unveiling a list of "heroes" and "targets" ahead of the upcoming midterm elections.
In the lengthy press conference that partially amounted to a pat on the back for their efforts at impacting a handful of key races in the last several months, the group said they are only supporting candidates they feel have a viable shot at winning next November.
"In politics, you always have to be careful to promise what to do," said Sal Russo, a GOP consultant who is aiding the Tea Party in their efforts. "We try to keep our focus on the doable. We have a lot of wonderful candidates that simply can't win. So our focus is on the candidates that can win so we can really focus on taking America back."
But among their list of supported candidates is Sharron Angle, a former Republican member of the Nevada Assembly who is an anti-tax champion vying to take on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. A recent poll indicates Angle lags far behind the two other Republicans seeking the party's Senate nomination - college basketball star Danny Tarkanian and former state GOP Chairman Sue Lowden. The Mason-Dixon survey for the Las Vegas Review-Journal showed Angle at 5 percent while Lowden registered 45 percent and Tarkanian polled at 27 percent.
Washington (CNN) – As the primary calendar heats up, President Obama will attend fundraisers from coast to coast over the next few days.
The president, already in Florida Thursday afternoon for a speech at the Kennedy Space Center where he'll outline his plans for the future of America's space program, heads south to Miami later in the day to headline two Democratic party fundraisers.
The first event, at $30,400 per couple, is at the home of singer Gloria Estefan, according to a Democratic source. The second fundraiser will be held at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, with tickets ranging from $250 to $1,250. Jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding will be performing. The source tells CNN that both events combined could raise around $2.5 million for the Democratic National Committee.
The Democratic National Committee raised at least $13 million in March, a Democratic source tells CNN. Its counterpart, the Republican National Committee, reports raising $11.4 million last month.
Obama is the main attraction Monday at two joint fundraisers in Los Angeles for the DNC and fellow Democrat Barbara Boxer. The three-term senator faces what's expected to be a difficult re-election campaign this year.
Washington (CNN) - First lady Michelle Obama revealed Wednesday that there are strict rules on the use of technology within the walls of the White House's East Wing - at least during the week and only if your name is "Sasha" or "Malia."
"[I]n my household, you know, we try to establish a set of guidelines and rules that make sense - no computers, phones, television during the week," the first lady said Wednesday in an interview with CNN en Espanol's Juan Carlos Lopez that aired on CNN's The Situation Room.
Obama called the question of how much technology is too much a generational issue, but said educators and parents are beginning to understand the unique challenges posed by the Internet and social networking platforms.
"We talk a lot with [our daughters] about the dangers of Facebook and sort of getting into that social networking kind of gossip mill or, you know, that - that comes from those activities," the first lady said, "[W]e spend a lot of time talking to our kids. And fortunately, more schools are understanding the challenges and they're doing more to educate families, as well as parents and children, about the pros and cons of excessive use of the Internet and all these new networking technologies."
Washington (CNN) – A former employee of the secretive National Security Agency has been indicted in connection with the leak to a reporter of classified information about the agency's electronic intelligence programs, the Justice Department announced Thursday.
Thomas Drake has been charged with illegally retaining classified information, obstruction of justice and making false statements to federal agents investigating the leak, the Justice Department announced. According to the indictment, Drake was a source for a series of articles about the NSA that were published in 2006 and 2007 by a newspaper that is not named in the charges.
The first of the articles for which Drake is accused of providing classified information ran two months after The New York Times disclosed the existence of the NSA's warrantless domestic surveillance program. The disclosure and the stories that followed in other news outlets stirred up a firestorm of criticism of the program, which a federal judge recently declared was conducted illegally.
Drake was a senior NSA employee who held a top-secret security clearance at the time, according to the charges against him. His security clearance was suspended in 2007 and he resigned from the agency in 2008. Efforts to contact his attorney were unsuccessful Thursday.
Drake was introduced to the reporter who wrote those articles by a former congressional aide, the indictment states. Neither the reporter nor the aide were named in the indictment.
(CNN) - The man who made famous the "Contract for America" 16 years ago is signing on to a similar pact Thursday advanced by Tea Party activists.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will become the first high-profile politician to endorse the so-called "Contract from America" later Thursday at an event in Austin, Texas.
The document, which included online solicitations and voting, was drafted by the Tea Party Patriots - one of the major factions in the anti-government spending, low tax movement.
The document is also set to be unveiled during a rally at the Washington monument Thursday evening.
Among the contract's provisions:
(1) Protect the Constitution, (2) Reject Cap & Trade, (3) Demand a Balanced Budget, (4) Enact Fundamental Tax Reform, (5) Restore Fiscal Responsibility and Constitutionally Limited Government in Washington, (6) End Runaway Government Spending, (7) Defund, Repeal and Replace Government-run Health Care, (8) Pass an 'All-of-the-Above' Energy Policy. (9) Stop the Pork, and (10) Stop the Tax Hikes.
Washington (CNN) – President Obama on Thursday ordered a review of mines with poor safety records and criticized the owner of the West Virginia coal mine where an explosion killed 29 people last week.
In remarks at the White House, Obama said the April 5 disaster at the Upper Big Branch Mine was due in part to failures by both the management and loopholes in existing laws and regulations.
Obama cited "a failure first and foremost of management, a failure of oversight and a failure of laws so riddled with loopholes" that companies repeatedly can violate safety regulations without penalty.
The president spoke to reporters after meeting Thursday with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Joseph Main of the Mine Safety and Health Administration to discuss the Naoma, West Virginia, explosion - the worst U.S. mine disaster in nearly 40 years.
Washington (CNN) - Florida Sen. George LeMieux, who was appointed to his seat last year by Gov. Charlie Crist, would not say Thursday whether he would support Crist's Senate bid if he decides to abandon the Republican primary and run as an independent.
A Quinnipiac poll released Thursday indicated that Crist trails his opponent for the GOP Senate nomination, Marco Rubio, by 23 points. But the same poll has Crist narrowly leading in a hypothetical three-way race against Rubio, the former Florida house speaker, and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek, with Crist running as an independent.
LeMieux, a longtime adviser to the governor, said he had "no information" on whether Crist planned to quit the GOP primary. He dodged when asked if he would support Crist as an independent.
"He is a Republican, has always been a Republican," LeMieux said. "I expect him to run as a Republican."