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Inside Politics: Romney to raise about $10M in N.Y., Conn.

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NEW YORK — Mitt Romney is set to raise about $10 million during a fundraising swing through New York and Connecticut.

Mr. Romney's top finance aide told donors in New York City on Monday that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was set to raise at least that — and possibly "substantially" more — during more than a dozen events during two days this week.

Mr. Romney also plans a July fundraiser with former Vice President Dick Cheney in Wyoming, according to a "Save the Date" invitation to the event.

Mr. Romney's fundraising has skyrocketed since he started raising money with the Republican National Committee. With the party, Mr. Romney raised $40.1 million in April. That's nearly as much as the $43.6 million that President Obama and the Democratic Party raised together last month.

AIR FORCE

New disciplinary action taken in war remains case

The Air Force has reprimanded for a second time a colonel accused of retaliating against workers at the Dover, Del., military mortuary who reported the mishandling of body parts of some of America's war dead.

In a statement, the Air Force said Monday that it issued a reprimand against Col. Robert Edmondson and ordered him to forfeit $7,000 in pay. Last year, it reprimanded him and denied him further command assignments after an inspector general's probe found him and two others at Dover to be responsible for "gross mismanagement." He remains in uniform but the punishments are likely to curtail his career.

The Air Force also said it has suspended Trevor Dean, who had served as Col. Edmondson's top civilian deputy at Dover, for 20 days without pay for his role in the reprisals. A third person accused of taking inappropriate actions against the whistleblowers, Quinton Keel, resigned before action could be taken against him.

For their roles in the mishandling of remains, Mr. Dean and Mr. Keel last year took a cut in pay and were moved to nonsupervisory jobs.

The whistleblowers' original allegations of mishandling of war remains at Dover were forwarded to the Pentagon in May and July 2010 by an independent federal investigative agency, the Office of Special Counsel.

OHIO

Mandel, Renacci donations subject of federal probe

COLUMBUS — Federal officials are investigating questionable campaign contributions to two Ohio officeholders, freshman Rep. James B. Renacci and state treasurer and Senate candidate Josh Mandel, spokesmen for both Republicans confirmed Monday.

Renacci spokesman Shawn Ryan said the U.S. attorney's office contacted the campaign four or five months ago with questions about donations from employees of Benjamin Suarez, a direct-marketing magnate, to either the congressman's campaign or Mr. Mandel's.

Mr. Renacci, seeking a second term representing Ohio's 16th Congressional District, is being challenged by Rep. Betty Sutton, a Democrat who was drawn out of her district. Mr. Mandel, elected treasurer in 2010, is challenging Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown.

The (Toledo) Blade had reported in August that Mr. Suarez and 16 employees and spouses from Canton-based Suarez Corp. Industries gave donations totaling $100,000 each to Mr. Renacci and Mr. Mandel.

Federal campaign finance law prohibits a donor from contributing in someone else's name. Corporations also are prohibited from awarding bonuses or other rewards to employees in exchange for campaign contributions. The company has said the employees gave freely and weren't compensated.

KENTUCKY

Watchdog group goes after anti-Obama pastor

LOUISVILLE — An eastern Kentucky Baptist pastor troubled by President Obama's views on gay marriage violated federal law when he urged his followers to vote the president out of office in November, a Washington watchdog group said.

Pastor Ronnie Spriggs of Hager Hill Free Will Baptist Church said during a May 13 sermon that he wants Mr. Obama voted out of office because of the president's support of gay marriage.

Mr. Obama "said that he believes that gays ought to have the right to marry in the United States. That's the president of the United States who said that," Mr. Spriggs told his flock during the sermon. "I don't know about you folks, but I'm going on record and I don't care who knows it. I want the guy out."

The statements elicited cheers from the flock and supporting shouts of "Amen!"

Americans United for Separation of Church and State said Mr. Spriggs' comments violate a federal law that says tax-exempt churches should not oppose a candidate.

Executive Director Barry Lynn said the group receives several tips during election seasons of churches that may be violating the law, but he said only a few reports are sent to the IRS.

"This is one of the most over the top, unequivocal statements of opposition to a candidate that we have seen in a long time. Usually it's a little bit fuzzier," Mr. Lynn said. "This guy clearly doesn't care what the law says."

SENATE

Iran sanctions tightened to stop nuclear program

Intent on weakening Iran economically, the Senate on Monday approved tough new penalties on the Tehran regime to thwart its nuclear ambitions.

By voice vote, the Senate backed the measure ahead of talks between leading nations and Iran in Baghdad on Wednesday. The bill would target Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, require companies that trade on the U.S. stock exchange to disclose any Iran-related business to the Securities and Exchange Commission and would expand penalties for energy and uranium mining joint ventures with Tehran.

The bill also would deny visas and freeze assets on individuals and companies that supply Iran with technology that could be used to crack down on its citizens, such as tear gas, rubber bullets and surveillance equipment.

Both the Obama administration and the international community have imposed tough sanctions on Iran over its nuclear development program, which Iran maintains is for peaceful purposes only.

Last Thursday, Senate Republicans blocked consideration of the bill, insisting that it include language stating that the use of military force is an option, as Mr. Obama has said. Negotiations through the weekend produced a bill that was acceptable to Democrats and Republicans.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama plans to deliver Air Force Academy commencement

President Obama plans to deliver the commencement address to the U.S. Air Force Academy, his fourth service academy graduation speech in four years.

The president will travel to Colorado Springs, Colo., on Wednesday, just days after completing a NATO summit in Chicago where the U.S. and its allies firmed up plans for the eventual withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of 2014.

Since 2009, Mr. Obama has delivered commencement addresses at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden also has delivered graduation speeches to the service academies.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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