One of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol announced he will not seek reelection in Ohio next year.
US Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, a former NFL player with a once-bright political future, cited his two young children for his decision and noted “the chaotic political environment that currently infects our country.” He is the first Latino to represent Ohio in Congress.
“While my desire to build a fuller family life is at the heart of my decision, it is also true that the current state of our politics, especially many of the toxic dynamics inside our own party, is a significant factor in my decisions,” Gonzalez said in his statement Thursday night.
Gonzalez, 36, would have faced Max Miller in the 2022 primary. Trump has endorsed Miller, his former White House and campaign aide, as part of his bid to punish those who voted for his impeachment or blocked his efforts to overturn the results of the election. Trump rallied for Miller this summer.
In a statement, Miller’s campaign called Gonzalez’s announcement “good news for the voters of our district,” said Gonzalez had “dishonored the office by betraying his constituents” with his impeachment vote.
Gonzalez represents northeast Ohio’s 16th Congressional District, in the northeastern part of the state.
The Ohio Republican Party censured Gonzalez in May for voting in February to impeach Trump. Gonzalez has stood by his impeachment vote in the face of fierce pushback from his party’s conservative wing. (Associated Press)
Bureau of Land Management headquarters returning
WASHINGTON—The Interior Department will summon the far-flung headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management back to Washington from the mountains of western Colorado, reversing a move by the Trump administration that caused upheaval within the agency and led to nearly 90 percent of the former headquarters staff to retire, quit, or leave for other jobs.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland broke the news to BLM staffers on a phone call Friday afternoon, before the announcement was made public in a statement shortly afterward. Haaland said the agency will create a new ‘’Western headquarters’' in Grand Junction, Colo., in place of the national headquarters.
In the call to staff, Haaland said her ‘’primary concern has always been for your well being and to restore the effectiveness of the BLM’s operations.’’
‘’I know the past few years have been difficult for many of you. The relocation of the BLM headquarters scattered employees and programs across the West, driven others out of the agency, and put enormous stress on those who remained,’’ Haaland said, according to the call heard by a reporter for The Washington Post.
Haaland and other BLM leaders have been surveying employees about the headquarters move to Grand Junction, which was completed last year at the end of the Trump administration. The move had led to widespread stress and frustration among headquarters staff in Washington, who were given a deadline of last summer to move to rural Colorado or other Western cities or lose their jobs, despite the pandemic.
Of the 328 headquarters positions slated to move out of Washington, 287 employees either retired or quit for other jobs, Haaland noted during a visit to Grand Junction in July, as she prepared a plan for the headquarters and talked to employees. Just three people ultimately ended up relocating to Grand Junction, she told reporters at the time, and more than 80 vacancies in the headquarters office remained.
The Trump administration justified the headquarters move, saying the vast majority of the public lands managed by the BLM is in the Western US and the move would put leadership closer to that land. But current and former employees have said they believe the intention was to weaken the agency that does environmental assessments and regulates fossil fuel and other energy interests.
Haaland said during her call on Friday the BLM’s presence in Grand Junction ‘’will remain and grow’' as the new Western headquarters and ‘’important policy functions and senior personnel will continue to be located’' there. But the agency’s director and ‘’other key leadership positions’' will return to Washington, ‘’ensuring a presence in the nation’s capital, like all the other land management agencies in the federal family.’’
Haaland added that apart from the core leadership team, employees who have already moved will not be required to relocate. (Washington Post)
GM targeted for boosting Republicans who fought election result
Progressive pressure group MoveOn.org has released a digital ad slamming General Motors for making donations to Republican members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden’s election in January months after it had paused contributions.
The online video, which plays on traditional car commercials by presenting GM’s political donations in the form of specs for a new vehicle, claims the Detroit automaker reneged on a promise to halt donations to the members of Congress who voted to overturn the election results.
In January, dozens of US corporations, including GM, halted or paused donations after a deadly riot at the US Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.
Some companies singled out lawmakers who voted to overturn the election results, while others suspended political contributions altogether. General Motors said at the time it had “paused new contributions” and would evaluate its 2021 giving to political action committees, or PACs. It resumed giving in May, according to Jeannine Ginivan, a spokeswoman for the automaker.
“The General Motors employee-funded PAC supports the election of US federal and state candidates from both sides of the aisle who foster sound business policies, support American workers and understand the importance of a robust domestic auto industry as we pursue an all-electric vehicle future,” GM said in an emailed statement.
GM gave $47,000 to Republican members of Congress and their leadership PACs through the end of June, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, according to the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW. Both were among those who voted to object against Biden’s certification. The MoveOn.org ad cited data from CREW.
Toyota backtracked on its political giving policies in July when its resumption of contributions sparked a social media backlash. The Japanese carmaker reinstated its ban on donations to the 147 congressional Republicans who voted against certifying Electoral College votes for Biden on Jan. 6. (Bloomberg)
Loan for Trump Tower put on watch list
A $100 million loan on Donald Trump’s Fifth Avenue tower was moved to a watch list Monday because of “lower average occupancy,” according to information compiled by Wells Fargo & Co.
The debt, sponsored by the former president himself, is secured by the 244,482 square feet of office, residential, and retail space in Trump Tower. Occupancy has dipped to 78.9 percent from 85.9 percent at the end of 2020, according to WellsFargo.
Marc Fisher, whose showroom occupied the 21st floor of Trump Tower, “vacated prior to lease end,” the note said, adding that the Trump Organization is trying to find a replacement. In March, the Trump Organization sued the footwear maker for more than $1 million in unpaid back rent, a claim that was later discontinued, according to court records.
The $100 million loan is part of the more than $590 million of debt held by the Trump Organization that comes due within the next four years. More than half of that is personally guaranteed by Trump.
Eric Trump, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. (Bloomberg)