- - Monday, July 9, 2012

PORTLAND, Maine — Critics are putting pressure on blunt-talking Maine Gov. Paul LePage to apologize for referring to the Internal Revenue Service as “the new Gestapo.”

The Republican governor made the remark in his weekend radio address, criticizing the Supreme Court ruling that upheld President Obama’s health care law. He said it gives Americans no choice but to buy health insurance or “pay the new Gestapo — the IRS.”

The Anti-Defamation League’s regional director called Mr. LePage’s remark “hurtful and inappropriate.” Derrek Shulman said comparisons to the Nazi police force have no place in politics or anywhere else.

Mr. LePage had no immediate comment Monday.

Since taking office last year, Mr. LePage has stirred outrage with remarks about labor unions, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and state government middle managers.


Challenges remain for high-speed rail plan

SACRAMENTO — California lawmakers may have given their OK to what would be the nation’s first high-speed rail line, but the project is still a long way from leaving the station.

Among the challenges that project supporters must overcome are environmental concerns, clashes with local leaders over land use, a $68 billion overall price tag with no funding guarantees and an increasingly disenchanted public.

Supporters applauded Friday when lawmakers narrowly approved billions of dollars in funding for the initial segment of the line in the agricultural Central Valley. The move enables the state to tap $3.2 billion in federal bond money.

Critics already are redoubling their efforts to defeat the project, which eventually could link Northern and Southern California by trains traveling up to 220 mph.


Obama’s re-election camp challenging website

Lawyers for President Obama’s re-election campaign are asking a judge to halt a website’s sales of T-shirts, bumper stickers and buttons with the campaign’s signature “O” logo.

Lawyers for the campaign asked the judge Monday to issue a preliminary injunction barring Washington-based Demstore.com from selling merchandise with its logos.

But Judge Emmet G. Sullivan appeared somewhat skeptical. He asked why the campaign initiated legal actions against the website in 2007, during Mr. Obama’s first campaign for president, but didn’t follow up until 2011. A lawyer said the campaign was focused on other things.

A lawyer for Demstore.com’s owner, Washington Promotions & Printing Inc., argued that many companies are selling similar merchandise and that the Obama campaign hurt its arguments by delaying action.

Both sides will return to court Monday afternoon.


Web page with old voter identification info still exists

HARRISBURG — A Pennsylvania government Web page that carries outdated information on voters’ photo ID requirements apparently lives on in cyberspace, although state elections officials say the votespa.com webpage no longer links to it.

A Department of State spokesman said Monday he wasn’t sure if the page itself could be eliminated from the Web.

Pennsylvania’s 4-month-old voter ID law requires people to have specific photo IDs to ensure their ballots are counted in November.

The law is being challenged in court as unconstitutional. Every Democratic lawmaker voted against it, and many decried House Republican leader Mike Turzai’s recent claim that it’ll enable Mitt Romney to win Pennsylvania in November’s presidential election.

State officials say 91 percent of Pennsylvania’s 8.2 million registered voters have state-issued IDs, not the 99 percent previously claimed.


Ex-governor gets probation for campaign payment

ST. LOUIS — Roger Wilson, a Missouri Democrat who was elevated to the governor’s job after the plane crash that killed Gov. Mel Carnahan, was sentenced Monday to two years of probation for misusing money to make political donations.

Wilson, 63, of Columbia, pleaded guilty in April to one count of misappropriation of funds from an insurer, the same day his federal indictment was announced. He admitted that he improperly steered $8,000 to the state Democratic Party in 2009 while serving as CEO of Missouri Employers Mutual Insurance Co., a state-created workers’ compensation firm.

Wilson could have received up to six months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. Chief Magistrate Judge Mary Ann L. Medler cited Wilson’s otherwise exemplary record in nearly a quarter-century of public service in opting not to require jail time. She also cited many letters of support for Wilson.

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