District of Columbia
Report: Alternative email accounts in use
WASHINGTON — Some of President Barack Obama’s political appointees are using secret government email accounts to conduct official business, The Associated Press found, a practice that complicates agencies’ legal responsibilities to find and turn over emails under public records requests and congressional inquiries.
White House spokesman Jay Carney on Tuesday acknowledged the practice and said it made eminent sense for Cabinet secretaries and other high-profile officials to have what he called alternative email accounts that wouldn’t fill with unwanted messages. Carney said all their email accounts were subject to congressional oversight and requests by citizens under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.
The AP reviewed hundreds of pages of government emails released under the federal open records law and couldn’t independently find instances when material from any of the secret accounts it identified was turned over.
Agency to hire fewer firefighters
WASHINGTON — As dry conditions set the stage for another difficult fire season, the Forest Service said Tuesday it will hire 500 fewer firefighters than last year because of automatic spending cuts imposed by Congress.
The agency still will be able to fight wildfires across the West despite the force reduction of about 5 percent, Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell said, in part because three new air tankers are being put into service.
Tidwell told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that the Forest Service expects to hire about 10,000 firefighters this year, down from 10,500 last year.
Obama nominates 3 to appeals court
WASHINGTON — Issuing a forceful challenge to Senate Republicans, President Barack Obama nominated three judges to the influential federal appeals court in Washington, declaring that the GOP has “cynically used Senate rules and procedures” to delay and block past nominees.
“What I’m doing today is my job; I need the Senate to do its job,” he said as he announced his nomination of Patricia Ann Millettt, Cornelia Pillard and Robert Leon Wilkins on Tuesday in the White House Rose Garden.
October election to fill Lautenberg seat
TRENTON, N.J. — Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday set an October special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat made vacant by Frank Lautenberg’s death, a decision that gets voters the quickest possible say on who will represent them in Washington but preserves Christie as the top attraction on November’s ballot.
The move means the state will have two statewide elections three weeks apart, a rare occurrence that Democrats immediately criticized as a wasteful move designed to help the governor’s political position.
Christie didn’t answer the big question of whom he’ll appoint to fill the seat in the meantime, but he said he has a list of possibilities in his head and will announce a decision quickly.
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