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Inside Politics: Akin, McCaskill’s challenger, claims conflict of interest with funds

- - Tuesday, October 9, 2012

JEFFERSON CITY — Businesses affiliated with the husband of Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, have received almost $40 million in federal subsidies for low-income housing developments during her first five years in office.

Ms. McCaskill's Republican challenger, W. Todd Akin, claims the payments represent a "conflict of interest and a breach of trust" with voters. The senator's campaign says that is "flat-out wrong."

Ms. McCaskill's financial reports show that her husband, Joseph Shepard, earned between $400,000 and $2.6 million in income from the businesses that received federal payments from 2007 through 2011.

Ms. McCaskill voted for some, but not all, of the bills that funded the federal departments that provide the housing subsidies. Ms. McCaskill's campaign says many of those housing contracts existed before Ms. McCaskill was elected in 2006, or before Mr. Shepard invested in them.

NEW YORK

Evangelical leaders appeal to Christians to vote GOP

NEW YORK — Evangelical leaders worried that Mitt Romney's Mormonism could suppress conservative turnout are intensifying appeals for Christians to vote.

About two dozen prominent evangelical leaders issued a statement last month emphasizing conservative moral values over a candidate's particular religion.

Influential Pentecostal publisher Steve Strang has also been working to get out the vote. He told a group of pastors last week that many churchgoers are having trouble setting aside theological concerns about Mormonism to back the Republican presidential nominee. Mr. Strang fears Christian conservatives will stay home on Election Day.

Mr. Romney is the first Mormon presidential nominee of a major party. Evangelical voters have said repeatedly in polls that they would back Mr. Romney despite concerns about his religion. But Southern Baptist leader Al Mohler said that hypothetical question now faces a real-world test.

MASSACHUSETTS

Attorney general questions town's ban on profanity

BOSTON — Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is recommending that the town of Middleborough change or repeal a bylaw that prohibits public profanity.

The town approved a proposal during the summer that would allow police to enforce the 1968 ban by imposing a $20 fine on people who engage in loud swearing in public.

The proposal was made in response to concerns by local merchants about profanity-laden language used by teenagers and other young people in the downtown area and public parks.

But Ms. Coakley said Tuesday that the original bylaw appears to violate the First Amendment guarantee of free speech, and she called on Middleborough to take it off the books or amend it.

HOUSE

Lawmakers seek more rules for compounded medicines

Two Democratic lawmakers are calling for stricter federal oversight of compounding pharmacies in the wake a deadly meningitis outbreak linked to contaminated injections made by a Massachusetts specialty pharmacy.

Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro of Connecticut and Rep. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts said in separate statements Tuesday that they would draft legislation to give the Food and Drug Administration more authority to police the safety of custom-mixed medicines, known as compounded drugs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 13,000 people received steroid shots from the New England Compounding Center of Framingham, Mass.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama OKs implementation of new sanctions on Iran

President Obama has signed an executive order that carries out new sanctions against Iran that Congress approved and that he signed during the summer.

The sanctions seek to deter Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Iran insists its nuclear development is for peaceful purposes.

The order Mr. Obama signed Tuesday sets up a framework for implementing new sanctions approved by Congress in August.

DELAWARE

Fundraising in race for governor no contest

DOVER — The Republican challenger hoping to unseat Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat, has raised less than 10 percent of the money raised by Mr. Markell this year.

Republican Jeff Cragg's campaign finance report shows that he has raised a little more than $60,000 this year, with more than $26,000 of that total, or almost half, from Mr. Cragg himself. That is a fraction of the more than $741,000 raised by Mr. Markell.

SENATE

Democratic lawmaker pushing to raise taxes

A top Senate Democrat is pushing to raise taxes on the wealthy while preserving many tax breaks benefiting the middle class in a challenge to a traditional tax-reform model that lowers tax rates for all and finances the cuts through a broad assault on tax breaks and loopholes.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, says any money from curbing tax breaks should go to reducing the deficit. He also says the top tax rate should go back to Clinton-era levels.

Mr. Schumer said proposals by Mitt Romney and others to cut tax rates across the board inevitably would end up boosting taxes on the middle class because policymakers would have to slash deductions and credits that benefit the middle class, such as breaks for mortgage interest and college savings.

From wire dispatches and staff reports