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The Florida Republican was the back-up headliner of the event — put on by the New York Young Republican Club — after former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin backed out of the indoor event. James O’Keefe, the leader of the conservative outfit Project Veritas, was also on the billing.

Gaetz’s profile has grown considerably in the Trump years, as the congressmen is one of his most fervent backers in Washington and frequently spars with critics online. Murphy, echoing the president’s penchant for derisive nicknames, referred to Gaetz as “Matt Putz,” using a term for a foolish person.

“It is obvious being a knucklehead is not beyond the pale for him,” Murphy said while commenting on a photo taken of Gaetz at the event.

Murphy posted almost identical statements on his Twitter account Friday alongside a photo of Gaetz in a gas mask, which he wore on the House floor earlier this year while the chamber was debating coronavirus relief legislation.

“You’re gonna regret this tweet when you move to Florida like the rest of New Jersey,” Gaetz retorted on the social media platform, while thanking Murphy for sardonically praising the congressman’s looks.

“I’m only considered handsome in New Jersey, though,” Gaetz added.

Restrictions on public activity have increasingly become a partisan flashpoint, particularly as winter approaches and more activities are forced indoors. Democratic elected officials in a number of areas also opened themselves to charges of hypocrisy after a series of high-profile incidents.

Murphy said that local law enforcement officials are investigating the matter, and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop has ordered the venue, located across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan in Liberty State Park, be temporarily shut down for violating rules on capacity limits and mask wearing.

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“What’s disheartening to me is that they facilitated doing this for an organization that was too scared of doing it in New York City,” Fulop told POLITICO, referring to the venue, Maritime Parc. “You’re putting residents at risk, you’re putting workers at risk, and we’re going to hold them accountable.”

Fulop, a Democrat, said his response would have been the same for a Democratic event, but took a shot at attendees for taunting New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo from afar in a tweet.

“There’s no profile in courage there,” he said. “The guy waits two hours after the event, after sneaking across the Hudson, to be a tough guy to Gov. Cuomo … It’s pathetic.”

New York, where the event was originally planned to be held, limits indoor gatherings to the lesser of 50 people or 25 percent of its total capacity. New Jersey limits indoor gatherings to just 10 people, but allows for activities protected by the First Amendment — such as religious services and political events — to go beyond that amount, provided they do not exceed 25 percent capacity or 150 people.

Gavin Wax, the president of the club, insisted on Twitter that the occasion complied with local rules and any “suggestion to the contrary and any legal threats are made in bad faith and politically motivated.”

“As far as we are aware, the First Amendment has not been repealed,” he tweeted.

Carly Sitrin and David Giambusso contributed to this report.




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D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s sister dies from Covid as city passes 1,000 deaths

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The statement came as the mayor declared Wednesday a day of remembrance for the more than 500,000 Americans and 1,000 D.C. residents who had died from the disease. The city announced that it had passed 1,000 deaths on Wednesday.

Bowser ordered flags to fly at half-staff and encouraged houses of worship to honor those who died in the pandemic on Wednesday evening.

“These beautiful souls who passed were grandparents, parents, siblings, cousins, neighbors, classmates, colleagues, friends and loved ones,” Bowser said in a statement announcing the day of remembrance. “This tragic milestone is a reminder that this pandemic has forever changed families and communities.”

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Mercia Bowser had previously worked for Catholic Charities and the D.C. Office on Aging, focusing her work on children, the elderly and those with behavioral disorders, the mayor said in her statement.


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A possible Tanden replacement privately touts her own Senate support

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Privately, too, O’Leary has reiterated her belief that the White House could and should still muster the votes needed for Tanden’s confirmation—noting that Tanden is qualified for the job and that her friends and allies should come to her side and not back down from defending her.

It’s a message that synced with administration officials who have refused to retreat from the nomination despite mounting evidence it’s going down.

But, at the same time, O’Leary has not shied away from touting her own qualification for the Biden administration’s top budget job should that no longer be the case. In conversations with numerous Democratic associates since her name began appearing in news stories as a possible fallback option, O’Leary has portrayed herself as a skilled policy architect and less partisan alternative, according to three Democrats familiar with the exchanges. O’Leary has gone as far as telling them that she could be confirmed by the Senate, two of the sources told POLITICO.

Reached by phone Wednesday, O’Leary restated her support for Tanden.

“Neera Tanden is exceptionally well qualified and should be confirmed for this position,” O’Leary said. “I have worked with her for years and years, and I can’t imagine a better advocate for President Biden to get his budget through Congress and help manage the policies of this administration. I am 1,000 percent behind her.”

One friend who spoke with O’Leary said the feeling they got from their conversation was that she was not campaigning for the OMB post. But the timing of O’Leary’s private comments raised eyebrows for others given her stated commitment to Tanden’s Senate confirmation battle and their history together. The two, at one point in time, were considered part of an exceedingly small “brain trust” for Hillary Clinton that included Heather Boushey, who now is on the Biden White House’s Council of Economic Advisers.

O’Leary’s private conversations in recent days also lend credence to a dynamic the White House itself has refused to publicly acknowledge: that Tanden’s chances of confirmation are increasingly dim and that machinations are underway to be her replacement.

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Several alternatives have emerged with competing constituencies in their corners. House Democrats are making the case for Shalanda Young, Biden’s deputy director nominee at OMB, whom they know from her time as staff director of the Appropriations Committee. Support for Shalanda on the Hill is so strong that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and lieutenants, including Rep. Jim Clyburn, were on board before Biden named Tanden. Progressives in the party are coalescing behind Gene Sperling, a former National Economic Council director.

O’Leary has a close relationship with White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, who she would likely need the backing of to secure the OMB nomination if one opens. But she faces headwinds from her tenure with Newsom, a Democrat whose stewardship of the state amid the coronavirus crisis has been so uneven that opponents are closing in on the signatures to qualify a recall effort.

While O’Leary has loyal allies in California, including current and former Newsom aides who praise her policy command and record of accomplishments with Newsom, she confounded other advisers who argued that she struggled to get up to speed on the inner workings of Sacramento and its complex power dynamics.

She also co-chaired the state’s now-defunct Covid business task force with billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer that ultimately was more for optics than actually addressing the issues at hand, with some high-profile defections at the end including Bob Iger.

The possible recall campaign, which comes against the backdrop of shuttered schools and irate business owners who blame their struggles on the state’s see-sawing coronavirus restrictions, could form the basis for critics trying to thwart an O’Leary Senate confirmation.


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Dominion Voting Systems takes out ad on conservative radio

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Dominion appears to have taken out similar ads touting itself as a “proud American company” on The Hayride, a right-wing Louisiana politics blog. Representatives for Dominion did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the ads were part of a broader public relations push or were being run elsewhere.

Dominion is one of the contractors seeking to fulfill Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s request to replace 10,000 decades-old voting machines, according to The Associated Press, and the state deal is estimated to be worth as much as $100 million. Dominion has furnished voting equipment for Louisiana since 2011.

But the former president and numerous prominent Republicans launched unsubstantiated attacks against the company in the run-up to last year’s White House race, alleging that it manipulated votes in favor of then-Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

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Some high-ranking GOP officials sought to distance themselves from those conspiratorial claims ahead of last month’s Georgia Senate elections, worried that Trump’s rhetoric would dissuade Republican voters from casting their ballots. The pair of runoff races ultimately flipped control of the chamber to Democrats.

Meanwhile, Dominion is embarking on a string of litigation against Trump allies who promoted the baseless theories about rigged voting machines. The company has filed defamation lawsuits against Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for $1.3 billion in damages each.




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