- - Tuesday, December 4, 2012

President Obama may have placed some limits on lobbyists serving in the White House, but he has had no problem continuing the timeworn Washington practice of doling out coveted diplomatic posts to big-money backers.

Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine, may be the latest luminary to reap the rewards of directing millions Mr. Obama’s way. The president is considering nominating her for an ambassadorship in Britain or France, according to a Bloomberg report.

As a major bundler for Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign, Ms. Wintour co-hosted a star-studded fundraising event at actress Sarah Jessica Parker’s home in early June and helped out with a line of Obama merchandise that brought in $40 million for the campaign.

MASSACHUSETTS

Reid seeks out Warren 
for banking committee

BOSTON — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants Massachusetts Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren to join the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

A Senate Democratic official confirmed Tuesday that Mrs. Warren’s appointment was likely, but cautioned nothing was final until the Democratic Caucus approves the move. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because no announcement has been made.

A favorite of the party’s liberal wing, Mrs. Warren’s likely committee assignment is already winning praise from progressive groups. The Senate banking panel oversees the implementation of the so-called Dodd-Frank financial-system overhaul and other banking regulations.

Mrs. Warren defeated Massachusetts Sen. Scott P. Brown, a Republican, and takes office in January.

JUSTICE

Officials recover $5 billion 
from bogus claims

The Justice Department has recovered a record $5 billion in the past year from companies that filed false claims against the government.

Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West said Tuesday that the federal False Claims Act is the most powerful tool in the government’s legal arsenal for protecting the integrity of government programs, such as Medicare and defense contracting.

Fraud against the government involves a risk of harm to a wide range of Americans, including homeowners victimized by abusive foreclosure practices, children and seniors taking medication for uses that were marketed by pharmaceutical companies but not approved by regulators, and men and women in the armed forces relying on defective products sold to the military.

It’s “an epidemic that really reaches every aspect of our daily lives,” said Stuart Delery, principal deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

FEMA

Funds available until spring 
for Superstorm Sandy victims

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says there’s enough money in the government’s disaster-relief fund for Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts until early spring.

FEMA Director Craig Fugate told the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday that the fund still has about $4.8 billion that it can disburse. So far, the government has distributed about $2 billion in aid to the 11 states struck by the late October storm.

Mr. Fugate’s testimony somewhat undercuts appeals by New York, New Jersey and Connecticut for more aid immediately. Those three states alone want another $83 billion. President Obama can request up to another $5.4 billion without hitting a spending ceiling. Several Republicans say more than that should be matched by spending cuts in other federal programs.

REPUBLICANS

Rubio, Ryan urge GOP
 to broaden party appeal

Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Marco Rubio, two potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates, laid out policy prescriptions for the GOP on Tuesday night, nudging a party still reeling from Mitt Romney’s loss to President Obama to reach out to a broader audience.

Mr. Ryan, the GOP’s vice presidential nominee in November’s election and chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee, told his audience that their party cannot write off large swaths of Americans — a subtle reminder of Mitt Romney’s remarks criticizing 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay income taxes. And he made clear that he would be making poverty in America a central part of his political message as he weighs a presidential campaign of his own.

“You know, both parties tend to divide Americans into our voters and their voters. Let’s be really clear: Republicans must steer very clear of that trap. We must speak to the aspirations and the anxieties of every American,” Mr. Ryan said at a dinner to honor his former boss, the late Rep. Jack Kemp, who also was a failed GOP vice presidential nominee in 1996.

Mr. Rubio, too, was set to outline his views for the party going forward during a later set of remarks.

COLORADO

Junior senator to chair
campaign committee

DENVER — Colorado’s junior senator has a new responsibility — helping Democrats maintain their hold on the U.S. Senate in 2014.

Sen. Michael F. Bennet will chair the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. That announcement was made Tuesday. Mr. Bennet is a soft-spoken centrist who defied the Republican wave in 2010 and won re-election in a bitter campaign run by the political strategist who is now the campaign committee’s executive director.

Mr. Bennet will be responsible for raising money and helping draw up national strategy for Democratic senators. He also will continue to serve in the Senate. Twenty Democrats and 13 Republicans are up for re-election in 2014. The Democrats include Colorado’s senior senator, Mark Udall.

Democrats and the two independents who often vote with them currently hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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