While an Air Force veteran’s online campaign to fund President Donald Trump’s border wall topped $14 million in pledges early Saturday, concerns were raised about whether the federal government would be able to accept the money, the New York Post reported.
If the money cannot be accepted, people who pledged the cash may have to be issued refunds, the newspaper reported.
Florida resident Brian Kolfage, a triple amputee and Purple Heart recipient who was severely injured during his deployment in Iraq in 2004, started a GoFundMe page Dec. 16 called “We The People Will Fund The Wall” and set a goal of $1 billion. More than 229,000 people have already pledged money to the cause.
According to his website, Kolfage lost three of his limbs during Operation Iraqi Freedom during a rocket attack at Balad Air Force Base on Sept. 11, 2004. Kolfage is a fervent supporter of Trump’s border wall.
“Americans are putting their money where their mouth is,” the campaign’s founder, Kolfage told The New York Times on Friday. “They’re willing to put money down to show politicians this is what they want.”
While Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, complimented Kolfage’s effort, he tempered his enthusiasm with concerns about allowing the private sector to raise money for government spending, the Post reported.
“I think it’s admirable, and I think that the country should respond,” Goodlatte told the newspaper. “Obviously, we can’t let citizens raise money and say, ‘The government will spend my money on this purpose.’ ”
According to the Treasury Department, general donations to the federal government are sent to a “Gifts to the United States” general use fund for budget needs, the Post reported. set aside for “general use” by the federal government or “budget needs.” Most federal agencies cannot use this money without congressional approval, the newspaper reported. Some agencies are allowed to accept gifts for earmarked purposes, but it was not clear whether the Department of Homeland Security, which is in charge of border security, is one of them, the Post reported.
GoFundMe’s terms of service prohibit “not using funds for their stated purpose,” the newspaper reported. That means Kolfage and GoFundMe may have to reimburse donors if the Department of Homeland Security is unable to accept the cash.
A competing fundraiser to buy “ladders to get over Trump’s wall” was created Thursday in response Kolfage’s campaign and had raised more than $115,000 by early Saturday.
Despite the tongue-in-cheek opposition, Kolfage remains determined.
“It’s time to stop playing games with voters,” Kolfage told The Washington Post in an email. “If we are told we’re getting something, make it happen.”
Proponents of psychedelic mushrooms in Oregon received good news from the state’s attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, who approved language last week for a ballot measure to legalize them, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
If passed, the measure would reduce criminal penalties for the manufacture, delivery and possession of psilocybin, which is the hallucinogen contained in psychedelic mushrooms, OPB reported.
In a tweet, members of the Oregon Psilocybin Society said it will begin gathering the 140,000 signatures required to put the measure on the ballot for the 2020 election.
On its website, society members asserted there is more evidence now that the drug is safe and can be used in treatment for depression, anxiety, PTSD and even drug addiction.
The federal government controlled use of mushrooms during the 1970s, OPB reported.
Brenda Snipes, the Broward County elections supervisor who was the lightning rod for the voting controversy during midterm elections in Florida, was suspended by Gov. Rick Scott on Friday, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
Snipes, 75, was replaced by Peter Antonacci, 70, president and CEO of Enterprise Florida. Antonacci will serve for the remainder of Snipes’ term until a replacement can be chosen by voters in November 2020, according to Scott’s office.
In a statement, Scott cited “misfeasance, incompetence and neglect of duty” as the reasons for suspending Snipes, who said she was resigning Jan. 4.
“After a series of inexcusable actions, it’s clear that there needs to be an immediate change in Broward County and taxpayers should no longer be burdened by paying a salary for a supervisor of elections who has already announced resignation,” Scott said in a statement.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Snipes in 2003, WPLG reported.
Snipes could not be reached for comment. Antonacci deferred questions to the governor’s office, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
Antonacci grew up in Hialeah, Florida, and earned urban planning and legal degrees from Florida State University and the FSU law school, WPLG reported.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton received 11 write-in votes for an election in North Carolina, officials said.
Newton’s name was written in for the Mecklenburg County Soil and Water Conservation district position, according to the Board of Elections.
The two people who won received more than 100,000 votes each.
Newton has thrown for 2,086 yards and 17 touchdowns this season for the Panthers, who are 6-3 and trail the New Orleans Saints by two games in the National Football League’s NFC South division.
The lightning rod for the voting controversy in Florida this year has been Broward County and its supervisor of elections, Brenda Snipes.
President Donald Trump told reporters Friday that Snipes “has had a horrible history and all of a sudden they are finding votes out of nowhere,” The New York Times reported. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, holding a razor-thin lead in the race for the U.S. Senate over incumbent Bill Nelson, announced Thursday that his campaign had filed a lawsuit against Snipes and Susan Bucher, the supervisor of elections in neighboring Palm Beach County, WFOR reported.
The suits accuse both offices of not complying with the state’s public records laws, and Scott publicly blasted both officials for “rank incompetence,” the Sun-Sentinel reported.
A Broward County judge ruled in favor of Scott on Friday and said Snipes must allow “immediate” viewing and copying of records that had been requested, WFOR reported.
However, a spokeswoman for the Department of Law Enforcement told the New York Times that no fraud allegations had been made and that no criminal investigations would proceed against Snipes or Bucher.
Here are some things to know about Snipes:
Brenda Calhoun Snipes, 75, is a native of Talladega, Alabama, and has lived in Broward County since 1964, according to the official Broward County Supervisor of Elections website.
She graduated from Westside High School in Talladega and then attended Talladega College, where she majored in modern foreign languages. After moving to Florida, she earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction for adults from Florida Atlantic University and was awarded a doctorate in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University, according to the website.
She began teaching in Broward County after being invited by Blanche G. Ely, a social activist and principal of the Pompano Beach high school that bears her name.
She served as a co-principal at C. Robert Markham Elementary School in Pompano Beach before being appointed principal at the school.
She retired from the school system in June 2003. Five months later, Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Snipes to replace Miriam Oliphant, who was removed from the post after accusations of mishandling the 2002 gubernatorial primary, CNN reported in 2003. She was elected in her own right in 2004 and was re-elected in 2008, 2012 and 2016,
Snipes and her husband, Walter Snipes Jr., were married in Talladega County, Alabama, in April 1964, according to Alabama marriage records. They have two grown daughters: Derrice Snipes who is a grants management director at Southwest Community College in Memphis; and Melanie Snipes, an attorney in Cartersville, Georgia. Snipes and her husband have two grandchildren.
Some of the previous glitches that have occurred during Snipes’ tenure as supervisor of elections:
Election results in the 2016 primary were posted on the election office’s website before the polls closed, the newspaper reported.
In 2012, nearly 1,000 uncounted ballots were discovered a week after the election, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
In 2004, approximately 58,000 mail-in ballots were not delivered to voters, the newspaper reported.
Brevard County deputies said Daniel Chen, of Melbourne, called the office and made the threat because he was upset about the number of unsolicited calls he was receiving from political candidates.
Chen threatened to blow up the office and even gave his name and phone number, deputies said.
Deputies were able to locate Chen and confirm he made the threat.
Chen was arrested on one charge of making a false report of a bomb and is being held in jail in lieu of $15,000 bond.
The municipal tax collector for three townships in a New Jersey county is accused of stealing more than $75,000 in property tax payments, Lehigh Valley Live reported.
Rachellyn Mosher, 48, of Lopatcong Township, was arrested Friday, according to a New Jersey State Police news release.
Mosher was working as a tax collector between 2013 and 2018 when she allegedly stole property tax payments made by White Township, Harmony Township and Lopatcong Township residents in Warren County, WNBC reported.
Mosher’s arrest came after an 11-month investigation by the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption North Unit and the Warren County Prosecutor's Office, Lehigh Valley Live reported.
"In order to conceal her thefts, Mosher allegedly falsified each township's computerized tax records," the website reported, citing a news release from the New Jersey State Police.
Mosher was charged with three counts each of official misconduct, pattern of official misconduct, tampering with public records and two counts of theft, according to court records.
Update 8:37 a.m. EDT Nov. 5: The shark race results are in: Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis will be Florida's next governor and Democrat Bill Nelson will retain his seat in the U.S. Senate, according to the results of Nova Southeastern University's shark race.
>> Read more trending news Satellite tags were attached to the dorsal fins of four sharks by members of the Guy Harvey Research Institute and the shark that logged the most miles would "win" the election, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
In the governor's "race," the DeSantis shark swam 371.18 miles, while the shark for Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum logged only 8.21 miles. Nelson's shark, meanwhile, traveled 785.27 miles, and Gov. Rick Scott’s shark had 130.88 miles.
“Our nonpartisan sharks have spoken, um, swum and they have made their predictions,” said Mahmood Shivji, director of the Guy Harvey Research Institute. “Our racing mako sharks did a perfect job predicting the presidential elections two years ago, so we’ll see what happens come Nov. 6.”
>> Midterm elections: How to avoid stress before, after Election Day
Original report: Fins to the left. Fins to the right. Four mako sharks will be used by a Florida university to predict Florida’s contentious midterm elections, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
The shark “race” began Oct. 16 and will end Nov. 3, three days before the elections.
Nova Southeastern University’s Guy Harvey Research Institute held a similar race for the 2016 presidential election, pitting a male shark (representing Donald Trump) against a female (representing Hillary Clinton), the newspaper reported. The male shark predicted Trump would win.
“Once again we turn to our sharks for their wisdom and expertise,” Richard Dodge, dean of the university’s Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography, told the Sun-Sentinel. “The sharks did a pretty good job two years ago, so let’s see how they do this year.”
Each shark has a satellite tag attached to its dorsal fin. Every time the shark’s fin breaks the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, the tag pings the animal’s location. The sharks that swim the most miles will be named the winners of the election.
Each shark will represent a candidate, the Sun-Sentinel reported. In the gubernatorial race, one shark will represent Rep. Ron DeSantis and one will race for Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. The Senate race will pit sharks representing incumbent Bill Nelson and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
The sharks can be tracked at www.ghritracking.org/flrace/ or by following #makoprediction on social media.
“This is a fun way to focus attention on the research NSU scientists are doing and the plight of sharks in our oceans,’’ Dodge told the Sun-Sentinel.
A Utah state senator turned over a new leaf Saturday.
Jim Dabakis (D-Salt Lake) drove to Las Vegas and tried marijuana, filming himself on Facebook outside a dispensary, KUTV reported. Dabakis said he wanted to try cannabis before Proposition 2, which would legalize medical marijuana in Utah, comes up for debate in a special legislative session, and then a vote on Nov. 6, the television station reported.
“Until this moment, I was a marijuana virgin,” Dabakis wrote on Facebook. “Ending that now. At least one legislator ought to try the stuff before we change the law!”
In the video, Dabakis explains he went into the dispensary and spent $30 for edible marijuana that looked like a gummy bear. Following instructions to cut the tangerine-flavored gummy bear in half, the legislator popped it into his mouth.
“Here it goes, I am going to try it,” Dabakis said in the video.
Dabakis said there wasn’t much of a taste at first.
“I wouldn’t recommend it as sheer candy; it’s kind of bitter,” Dabakis said in the video. “I will not be bringing the rest of this to Utah, believe me.”
In an interview with KUTV on Monday, Dabakis said he was on a fact-finding mission.
“It dawned on me Wednesday on the floor of the Senate that the Legislature is going to have the final say on this medical marijuana," Dabakis said. “I thought, 'Maybe nobody on this floor has ever tried marijuana.'”
Dabakis said he supports Proposition 2 and believes if it does not pass, his fellow legislators will defeat medical marijuana legislation in Utah.
“If the people vote 'no' now, they are going to go ‘Well, the people voted 'no' so we’re not going to pass this,'" Dabakis said.
A South Florida City Council candidate used Facebook posts to compare two teen activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to Adolf Hitler, communists and actors, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
Ximena Hommel is running for a seat on the Plantation City Council. Although her social media posts have been deleted, Hommel has posted links and memes about David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez, who gained national attention after a gunman shot and killed 17 people at the Parkland high school Feb. 14.
A Feb. 21 post included a link to a story about Hogg reading “it’s all theater,” and suggested he was rehearsing scripted lines. A March 25 post included side-by-side photos of Hogg with his right arm raised, next to a saluting Hitler.
On the same day, Hommel posted a photo showing Hogg and Gonzalez wearing Russian-style hats with the caption, “Give us your guns, comrades,” the Sun-Sentinel reported.
Hommel, a former police officer in Plantation, told the newspaper she had no regrets about the posts and will not apologize for reposting links and memes.
“I shared it and I made it public,” Hommel told the Sun-Sentinel. “I posted it from other pages because I don’t believe (Hogg and Gonzalez) represent the victims of the school. Go talk to the real victims.
“I don’t like they are portraying themselves as the victims ’cause they’re not.”
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