Cruz: Trump May Be Hiding Mob Ties in Tax Returns

tcBy Greg Richter   |   Sunday, 28 Feb 2016 01:37 PM

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on Sunday upped the pressure on Donald Trump, his main rival for the GOP presidential nomination, to release his past taxes – even hinting that he might not be doing so to hide mafia connections.

“There have been multiple media reports about Donald’s business dealings with the mob, with the mafia,” Cruz said on ABC’s “This Week.” “Now maybe his tax returns show that those business dealings are a lot more extensive than has been reported.”

Cruz noted that ABC News had been one of the media outlets to report Trump has done business with S&A Concrete to build Trump Tower in Manhattan.

The company is “owned by two of the big crime families in New York,” Cruz said. “Maybe that’s what his tax returns show. We don’t know. But the important point is, George in the general election, Hillary Clinton is going to shine a light on all of this. And Republican primary voters deserve to know.”

Cruz said Trump’s returns might also show he is a big donor to liberal causes, such as Planned Parenthood, which Trump has touted in recent debates as doing good work for women’s health, though he admitted he disagreed with the group performing abortions.

“At every debate, it seems, he praises Planned Parenthood. Maybe he’s written them a bunch of checks,” Cruz said.

Both Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio have released summaries of their own past tax returns in an effort to shed light on Trump’s refusal to do so himself. Trump said his taxes are complicated and that he can’t release them while he is under audit by the IRS.

He told CNN’s Chris Cuomo after Thursday’s debate he might have been targeted because he is a “strong Christian.”

Nobody who heard that statement had “any reaction other than laughter,” Cruz said on “This Week.” “He needs to release his tax information, and the fact that he’s refusing to do so really suggests as Mitt Romney pointed out, that there may be a bombshell in there. There’s something he’s hiding.”


Rubio, Fox News Led Effort for Amnesty


By Greg Richter   |   Sunday, 28 Feb 2016 01:03 PM

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has downplayed his role in the 2013 “Gang of Eight” bill that was defeated in the House and has since come to be labeled “amnesty” by conservatives, but The New York Times reports that Rubio was part of a dinner in 2013 with Fox News executives to try to sell the plan as not being amnesty.

At the dinner in the executive dining room of Fox’s parent company News Corporation’s Manhattan headquarters, Rubio and Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer met with News Corporation head Rupert Murdoch and Fox News chief Roger Ailes, who were amenable, the Times quoted sources familiar with the meeting.

“But the media executives, highly attuned to the intensifying anger in the Republican grass roots, warned that the senators also needed to make their case to Rush Limbaugh, the king of conservative talk radio, who held enormous sway with the party’s largely anti-immigrant base,” the Times writes.

They did just that, the Times reports, in a later dinner in Florida with Rubio, Schumer, Murdoch and Ailes in attendance. Limbaugh even alluded to it on his syndicated radio show on Monday, when he told a caller, “I’ve had it explained to me by no less than Sen. Schumer.”

Rubio also reached out to conservative radio hosts Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham, according to the Times. And Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly became friendlier to the plan, according to the Times.

But Rubio’s goal to bring more Hispanics into the GOP ultimately failed along with the bill, and Rubio and Fox “are still paying for that dinner,” the Times wrote. Rubio is constantly hammered by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on the presidential campaign trail, and conservatives have less trust in Fox News now thanks to attacks by front-runner Donald Trump, though Fox is still the giant of cable news ratings.

The Gang of Eight bill — so named for it’s support by four Republicans and four Democrats — would have given a pathway to citizenship to 11 million illegal immigrants with promises of securing the border with Mexico while any foreigners still in the country would have to leave when their visas expired.


Kasich: I’ll Quit If I Don’t Win Ohio

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich said Saturday that he will leave the race if he did not win the primary in his home state of Ohio next month.

“I will beat Donald Trump in Ohio, and that will be the beginning of a new day,” Kasich said in Nashville, The New York Times reports.

“Some of the other candidates, if they can’t win their home state, they got to get out, OK?” the Ohio governor continued. “If I don’t win my home state, I’ll get out.

“But you know what? I’m going to win Ohio,” he said.

Kasich’s comment was a shot a rival Marco Rubio, who is lagging behind Trump in his home state of Florida by as much as 16 points in recent polls.

The Buckeye State holds its primary on March 15.


Twitter targets trolls but winds up silencing conservatives

twitterBy Robby Soave
February 23, 2016 | 8:43pm

When Twitter sanctioned popular right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos last month for bad behavior, conservatives were concerned. Two weeks ago, when the social media platform picked a bunch of leftist groups to write its new harassment policies, they grew worried.

Now, in the wake of Twitter’s recent decision to ban conservative blogger Robert Stacy McCain, is it time for full-fledged panic?

There’s no telling what Twitter’s endgame is, but it’s unlikely to be good for users who don’t want the company to enforce overly broad harassment and hate-speech policies at the expense of open dialogue.

McCain, the latest high-profile pundit to run afoul of Twitter’s vague prohibitions on abusive behavior, is a controversial figure. Many would find his passionate denunciations of liberals — feminists, in particular — offensive, even vile (I know I do). But there’s a considerable difference between using Twitter to harshly criticize opponents and using it to harass them or incite others to violence. I’ve yet to see a compelling case that McCain crossed that line.

Why did he get the boot, then? Twitter recently formed the Orwellian-named “Trust and Safety Council” to propose changes to the company’s use policies. The goal, according to a press release, was to find a middle ground between permitting broad free speech and restricting actual abuse.

But practically none of the 40 people chosen to be part of the council are all that concerned about free speech. In fact, most of them work for anti-harassment groups and seem likely to recommend further limitations on online expression.

One such council member is Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist blogger and opponent of the GamerGate movement.

People associated with GamerGate believe feminists are trying to take the sex and violence out of video games in the name of liberal political correctness; Sarkeesian contends (not incorrectly) that women who speak up about sexism are subjected to misogynistic harassment on forums and social media sites.

Sarkeesian is exactly the kind of person McCain has spent his life bashing: The fact that he was banned from Twitter mere days after the company chose her for the council doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that such decisions are being made fairly.

To be clear, even if Twitter’s administrators are engaging in ideologically motivated suppression of speech they dislike, that’s legal. The First Amendment prohibits the government from censoring citizens — it doesn’t prevent private companies from censoring would-be customers.

Indeed, Twitter has the ironclad right to enforce its rules as vindictively as it wants. Conservatives and libertarians ought to support that right on principle, even if they are its losers in this specific case.

What should conservatives do? What they’re already doing: speak up, and loudly. Shortly after McCain was shown the door, people who want the platform to be more open to free expression organized a #FreeStacy hashtag.

Twitter, to its shame, soon suppressed the hashtag.

In response, some have vowed to boycott Twitter entirely. Actor Adam Baldwin, a popular conservative voice on social media, said the site is “dead to me,” and deleted his entire history save for a single link to an article demanding McCain be returned to good standing.

Twitter’s ill treatment of right-leaning figures deserves pushback, and these kinds of stunts are as good a tactic as any.

As Popehat blogger and lawyer Ken White argued, “I classify Twitter’s action as bad customer service and as private speech I don’t like because of my conservative views.” When a company has bad customer service, the best solution is often to defect.

Personally, I like Twitter, and would hate to start over recruiting followers on whatever platform the young folks are into these days — Facebook? Instagram? Snapchat? Is that a thing? So I’ll be sticking with the little blue bird for the foreseeable future.

In the meantime, I hope the company does a better job expelling users for the expression of actual abuse rather than incorrect beliefs and attitudes. It could allay some concerns by adding a dedicated free-speech enthusiast — White would be a great choice — to the roster of its Trust and Safety Council.

Nobody, right or left, wants to get banned for saying the wrong thing.

Robby Soave is a staff editor at Reason and columnist for The Daily Beast.