- - Thursday, March 22, 2012

SEATTLE — A U.S. senator is writing a bill that would stop the practice of employers asking job applicants for their Facebook or other social-media passwords, he told the Associated Press on Thursday.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat, said that such a practice is an “unreasonable invasion of privacy for people seeking work.”

“These practices seem to be spreading, which is why federal law ought to address them. They go beyond the borders of individual states and call for a national solution,” said Mr. Blumenthal, who first spoke to Politico on Wednesday.

The AP reported this week that some private and public agencies around the country are asking job seekers for their social-media credentials. The practice has alarmed privacy advocates, but the legality of it remains murky.


Brown cites mother in domestic-violence law push

BOSTON — U.S. Sen. Scott P. Brown is pointing to his mother’s history of abusive relationships with men as he pushes for renewal of a domestic-violence law that has met with opposition from some fellow Republicans.

In recent days, the Massachusetts Republican has released a radio ad and taken to the floor of the Senate to call for the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act. On Friday, he and his sister plan to tour a shelter.

Mr. Brown said he takes his support for the bill personally, describing himself as a victim of domestic violence, but Democrats say he’s trying to distract female voters from his support of an amendment that could have limited birth-control coverage

Mr. Brown is locked in a tight race with his chief Democratic rival, Elizabeth Warren.


Santorum calls Romney hardly better than Obama

SAN ANTONIO — Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Thursday said Republicans “might as well” give President Obama another term if former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee.

Mr. Santorum reiterated an argument he has made before: Mr. Romney is not conservative enough to offer voters a clear choice in the fall election and that only he can provide that contrast.

“You win by giving people a choice,” Mr. Santorum said during a campaign stop in Texas. “You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who’s just going to be a little different than the person in there.”

Mr. Santorum added: “If they’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk of what may be the Etch-A-Sketch candidate for the future.”

The remark reignited criticism of Mr. Romney as the type of politician who will say or do anything to win.

Mr. Romney, who made no public appearances Thursday, issued a statement expressing disappointment “that Rick Santorum would rather have Barack Obama as president than a Republican.”

“This election is more important than any one person. It is about the future of America,” he said. “Any of the Republicans running would be better than President Obama and his record of failure.”

Rival Newt Gingrich tweeted: “Rick Santorum is dead wrong. Any GOP nominee will be better than Obama.”


Chief: Tea party groups not political targets

The head of the Internal Revenue Service has told Congress his agency isn’t denying tax-exempt status to tea party groups because of their political views.

Several of the conservative groups have accused the agency of frustrating their attempts to become tax exempt by sending them lengthy, intrusive questionnaires.

But IRS chief Douglas H. Shulman told members of a House panel that his agency prides itself on being nonpolitical. He says the answers the IRS is seeking are typical of the questions that it asks when determining whether a group is entitled to be tax exempt.

After the Ways and Means Committee hearing, Republican Rep. Charles W. Boustany Jr. of Louisiana told reporters he was dissatisfied with Mr. Shulman’s response, saying the groups think their First Amendment rights are being violated.


U.S. to OK Egypt aid despite lawmakers’ concerns

A top Senate Democrat says Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will use her waiver authority to release at least a portion of $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, who wrote the section of the law imposing conditions on the aid, said he was disappointed in the decision, which he learned from the State Department on Thursday.

Mrs. Clinton had to determine whether Cairo was meeting the criteria for the U.S. assistance by supporting the country’s transition to democracy and upholding human rights.

Mr. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, said in a statement that the U.S. move sends a contradictory message about favoring democracy but rewarding Egypt as the military harasses and arrests those working for democracy.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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