Skip Navigation
Breaking News
Breaking News
from Washington and beyond

Tennessee Republicans Issue Stupidest Possible Statement on Gun Control

Republican lawmakers are really creative when it comes to ignoring their own constituents.

A sign reads "Protect Kids from Books Drag Guns" with Books and Drag crossed out.
Seth Herald/Getty Images
Students walked out of schools to gather at the Tennessee State Capitol building to demand gun reform on April 3.

On Wednesday, Tennessee House Republicans announced on Twitter that “any red flag law is a non-starter,” and also that they are “focused on finding solutions that prevent dangerous individuals from harming the public.”


Just to spell it out: The point of red flag laws are to prevent individuals with … “red flags” from … “harming the public.”

The nonsensical statement comes in the aftermath of the Nashville school shooting that left three children and three adults dead. Thousands of Tennesseans have been protesting since the incident demanding gun reform. The movement has only gained momentum after Republicans expelled two since-reinstated Black Democrats, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, for interrupting House proceedings to stand in solidarity with the protesters. And the tides beneath the clamoring for change has only swelled amid a string of mass and targeted shootings throughout the country.

Republican Governor Bill Lee recently expressed interest in some form of a red flag law, but he did not go into specifics, and apparently he has not worked to convince the rest of his party it’s actually necessary.

Despite the increasing demands by the public for any action to stop the onslaught of gun violence, Tennessee Republicans have largely remained intransigent. Tennessee actually loosened gun laws on the day of the Nashville shooting. Republicans have also repeatedly shut down a red flag law that could have prevented the shooting in the first place: once two years ago, and again just last week.

The disinterest in public safety stems beyond red flag laws. Before the shooting, state Republicans also passed a bill allowing people 21 and older to openly carry handguns without permits. Republicans are now pushing to allow 18- and 19-year-old residents to carry any firearm—including weapons like AR-15s and shotguns—without permits.

As of 2020, Tennessee was among the top 10 deadliest states in the country from guns.

Top Tennessee Republican Who Voted to Expel Democrats Resigns Over Sexual Harassment Charges

Tennessee Republicans are suddenly under the spotlight after voting to expel Democratic lawmakers—and it’s not looking good.

Seth Herald/Getty Images

A top Tennessee Republican who voted alongside his party to expel three Democratic representatives for breaking House “decorum” has resigned after the findings of a sexual harassment investigation became public.

NewsChannel5 reported that a secret ethics subcommittee found state Representative Scotty Campbell, vice chair of the House Republican caucus, guilty of sexually harassing at least one legislative intern, and likely two.

The findings were sent nearly three weeks ago to House Speaker Cameron Sexton, who is facing his own ethics issues over reports that he doesn’t actually live in the district he represents. Sexton made no move to expel Campbell, who only resigned after the charges were made public on Thursday.

The ethics investigation into Campbell details the extent of his sexual harassment. In an email the victim wrote to university officials, given to NewsChannel5 by a family member, she recounted some of Campbell’s gross behaviors.

On one occasion, after watching the victim and another 19-year-old female intern enter her apartment, Campbell allegedly later “made comments about how … he was in his apartment imagining that we were performing sexual acts on one another and how it drove him crazy knowing that was happening so close to him.”

The victim told Campbell, uncomfortably, that that was not happening; the Republican representative insisted that he knew it was happening and asked her to tell him all about it. She responded that the other girl was her friend. Campbell allegedly went on to explain how sexually attractive he finds her as well.

NewsChannel5 reports that the other girl is likely the second complainant against Campbell.

Campbell also reportedly made repeated comments about how he is “very, very lonely” and wishes “he had someone with whom he could just cuddle.”

In another instance, Campbell asked the victim how many men she slept with. After she said zero, Campbell insisted she was lying, then asked how many women she had slept with. He “said he bets girls go crazy over me,” the victim wrote in the email. Campbell then apparently offered her cannabis gummies in exchange for being able to see her tattoos and piercings.

“I told him absolutely not, and he begged me for several hugs,” she wrote in her email. She grew more and more fearful; Campbell grew more and more brazen, reaching out and grabbing her neck.

“I recoiled and said I felt sick and immediately left. That was the last night I ever spoke with or saw him. I blocked his number after that.”

Campbell has repeatedly insisted that the conversations he had with the intern were “consensual adult” ones.

Meanwhile, the legislature is slow to release much further information, including how much taxpayer money was spent covering up the disturbing behavior. NewsChannel5 reports that potentially thousands of dollars have been spent to relocate the victim from the apartment building that she and Campbell both lived in, to ship her furniture back home to another part of Tennessee, and to place her in a hotel for the remainder of her internship.

Again: Tennessee taxpayers have had to foot the bill of protecting a victim from sexual harassment—and from potentially facing further harassment—by a sitting Republican lawmaker.

Before Tennessee Republicans sought to expel three Democrats—and succeeded in expelling the two Black ones, Justin Pearson and Justin Jones—for standing in solidarity with thousands of Tennesseans protesting gun violence, they have long been making up and manipulating the rules in order to avoid public accountability. Such behavior has led them to vote down bills with abandon and introduce last-minute amendments to legislation that the public is seldom aware of. And in so doing, Republicans have established arbitrary standards that brought them to so brazenly expel Pearson and Jones, while ignoring when their own colleagues are sexual harassers, child molesters, or allegedly assaulting others on the House floor.

“Take That Pope Francis”: Twitter’s Blue Check Purge Begins

If nothing else, the reactions to the Twitter blue check apocalypse are amazing.

Twitter account on Twitter is seen displayed on a phone screen
Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Twitter on Thursday began removing blue verification checkmarks from people who do not pay for the platform’s subscription plan.

People can pay $8 a month for Twitter Blue to receive increased visibility on the platform. Those who don’t are having a field day with jokes now that they have lost their once-coveted blue check.

Some of the major people who have lost blue check status include Donald Trump, Beyonce, and Bill Gates.

Elon Musk still has his because he’s an “affiliate of Twitter.”

Nancy Mace Says Republicans Are the “Feminists of Today” With Anti-Trans Bill Passage

This is not how feminism works, Nancy.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Republican Representative Nancy Mace thinks her party is the new wave of feminists because it passed a bill banning transgender women and girls from women’s sports.

The House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would amend Title IX, a civil rights law that bans sex- or gender-based discrimination, to limit a person’s sex to the one they were assigned at birth. The measure passed entirely along party lines and is not expected to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate.

At one point during the debate, Mace suggested that Republican support for women’s equality in sports (except for trans women) makes them “the feminists of today.”

“As a woman who is pro-LGBTQ, I don’t care how you dress, I don’t care what pronoun you take, I don’t care if you change your gender, but we ought to protect biological women and girls in their athletics,” she said.

Mace suggested another amendment to conduct a study of the supposed adverse psychological effects on cisgender women and girls of letting trans women play women’s sports.

Democratic Representative Mark Takano clapped back that nothing is “further from the truth.”

“This amendment perpetuates false arguments that allowing transgender girls to participate in school sports teams will undermine the well-being of cisgender girls,” he said.

Democrat Pramila Jayapal pointed out that the only way for schools to enforce this rule would be to conduct genital exams on students.

Mace is rapidly becoming a classic “pick-me girl.” She keeps trying to show she’s not like other Republicans, even denouncing them to stand out from the crowd. Mace has repeatedly urged her party to adopt a more centrist stance on abortion rights. She also said she would oppose kicking Ilhan Omar off the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

But at the end of the day, she voted with Republicans every time.

Florida LGBTQ Group Cancels Pride Parade Thanks to Anti-Drag Bill

Florida’s drag ban hasn’t been signed into law yet, but it’s already having the intended effect.

People participate in the Pride Parade during the Miami Beach Pride Festival in September 2021.

Florida’s drag ban has not yet been signed into law, and yet it is already stopping Pride celebrations in the state.

The measure passed the state House of Representatives Wednesday by a vote of 82–32 and is now headed to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis. If he signs it into law, the measure would prohibit government entities and employees from issuing permits to organizations that may hold “adult live performances” in the presence of minors. It would also ban businesses from allowing minors to attend such performances.

The Pride Alliance of the Treasure Coast, which covers several counties in southeastern Florida, announced some dramatic changes late Wednesday to its Pride celebrations in light of the legislation.

As all of you know, the political climate that we are currently in has us all very concerned for our community. After multiple meetings with city officials, it is with a heavy heart that Pride Alliance of the Treasure Coast has to announce that this weekend’s Pridefest will now be a 21 and older event,” the group said on Facebook.

“We also regret to announce that we will have to cancel our plans to bring back our beloved parade.”

This is the law working as intended: forcing queer people back into the closet,” tweeted New York Times columnist Lydia Polgreen.

Florida is the latest state to advance a (vaguely worded, extreme) measure attacking drag performances, which have become a particular target for the right wing in recent years. It is likely to become the second state to pass a law, after Tennessee in March. The Tennessee law was blocked by a judge before it could go into effect on the grounds that it was overly broad and violated free speech rights.

Cop City Protester Was Shot 57 Times; Had No Gunpowder Residue on Hands

The police narrative on the murder of the environmental activist known as “Tortuguita” is quickly falling apart.

Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis/Getty Images
A vigil by environmental activists in a preserved forest in Atlanta that is scheduled to be developed as a police training center

The police do not seem to have been provoked when they shot and killed Manuel Esteban Paez Teran.

At least that is what the evidence continues to indicate. In January, the 26-year-old forest defender known as “Tortuguita” was shot and killed by police as they were protesting the construction of a $90 million police training facility in Atlanta, Georgia.

New autopsy results from DeKalb County reveal that Teran had no gunpowder residue on their hands, contrary to police reports that said Teran had shot first at a state trooper, provoking officers to respond with gunfire.

Even more appalling, Teran suffered at least 57 gunshot wounds, from head to toe. Officers shot at least 57 bullets into a person who was protesting the construction of a militarized police facility and defending a forest. Fifty-seven. If there was a point to be made about our overinflated police budgets, the police made it themselves.

Teran’s family reportedly conducted an independent autopsy that found Teran’s hands were raised during the shooting; the DeKalb County autopsy could not definitely come to a conclusion on that fact.

Conveniently, there is no body camera footage of the event, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The revelations follow an ongoing display of proof for why residents might be skeptical of giving the police more and more money. In March, at least 35 people were indiscriminately detained at a music festival organized by Cop City protesters. Twenty-three were charged with domestic terrorism.

Those arrested were accused of participating in vandalism and arson at a construction site over a mile away from where the music festival was held. There was no substantial proof that any were involved in illegal activity; some people were outright denied bond on the grounds of “evidence” like wearing black or having mud on their shoes (they were all in a forest, where it had just rained).

While the police continue to prove why they warrant more scrutiny and less leeway, their behavior has yet to change; it is unclear how much more damage they will need to cause to inspire enough change to stop them from causing such damage at all.

Taxpayers Are Subsidizing Fox’s Election Lies and Violent Radicalization

Fox is getting a big tax break on its settlement with Dominion. Meanwhile, it continues radicalizing its viewers, like the person charged with shooting Ralph Yarl.

Someone walks by a Fox News sign that has the channel's logo and the line "America is watching."
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

It turns out that every person who pays taxes is also paying for Fox to further radicalize their neighbors.

On Tuesday, Dominion Voting Systems decided to settle with Fox and its cable networks after a months-long battle in a defamation lawsuit alleging that Fox had knowingly spread lies about the 2020 election. And now, The Lever has revealed that Fox will get to obtain a tax break as large as $213 million off the $787.5 million it owes Dominion.

“Thanks to an arcane line in the tax code, Fox can deduct that settlement payment from its income taxes,” The Lever reports, “because federal law allows taxpayers to write off many legal costs, providing that they are ‘ordinary and necessary’ business expenses.”

The revelation is shocking at its face: With a settlement, Fox had weaseled out of a potentially deeper inquiry into the lies undergirding its operation. And now the American taxpayer, whether they watch Fox or not, gets to help the crooked company wade through the costs of its own actions.

The revelation is all the more shocking given reporting from the Kansas City Star on the role Fox played in the radicalization of the shooter of Ralph Yarl, a Black 16-year-old boy who went to the wrong home in Kansas City, Missouri, to pick up his siblings.

Andrew D. Lester, who has been charged with shooting Yarl last week, was apparently immersed in a “24-hour news cycle of fear and paranoia,” according to Lester’s grandson.

“He’s become staunchly right-wing, further down the right-wing rabbit hole as far as doing the election-denying conspiracy stuff and Covid conspiracies, and disinformation, fully buying into the Fox News, OAN kind of line,” his grandson, Klint Ludwig, told the Star. “I feel like it’s really further radicalized him in a lot of ways.”

And how has Fox covered this shooting? Media Matters reports that between the day of Yarl’s shooting and Tuesday Fox had spent a whopping 13 minutes covering the violent incident. The only prime-time coverage, Media Matters notes, came while Tucker Carlson downplayed the shooting and used it to somehow attack the Biden administration. The figures are especially rich given Fox is ostensibly so “tough on crime”—but apparently not for the vicious acts it helped incite in the first place.

Republicans Really Want to Avoid Talking About Abortion

Top members of the Republican Party, including the 2024 front-runner, are seemingly reversing course on abortion.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Republicans seem to be getting exactly what they want on abortion, and yet suddenly none of the party’s top members want to talk about it.

In the past few weeks alone, a Texas judge ruled that mifepristone, one of the medications used to induce an abortion, had been improperly approved by the FDA and should be pulled from the market. A chaotic battle over access to the drug is now playing out in the courts. Meanwhile, under cover of night, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law banning abortion after six weeks—before most people know they are pregnant.

Donald Trump, the front-runner for the GOP 2024 presidential nomination and the man primarily responsible for Roe v. Wade being overturned, has not commented publicly on any of it.

President Donald J. Trump believes that the Supreme Court, led by the three Justices which he supported, got it right when they ruled this is an issue that should be decided at the State level,” a Trump campaign spokesman said in a statement to The Washington Post.

Trump has repeatedly touted himself as “the most pro-life president” ever, and yet now he’s evading the issue. His campaign refused to answer questions about what policies he would support if reelected. Other top Republicans have similarly changed their tune when it comes to abortion.

In January, the Republican National Convention urged the party to “go on offense” against abortion rights and pass new restrictions, including six-week bans. But now, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has begun telling candidates to back a 15-week ban instead. According to the Post, she doesn’t believe the six-week bans are popular or helpful to the GOP (she’s right). And even 15-week bans are tricky: Last year, when Senator Lindsey Graham introduced a federal 15-week abortion ban just before the midterms, many of his colleagues slammed the move. The bill never made it to the Senate floor.

After the initial mifepristone ruling, only a handful of Republicans reacted, most of whom gave mealy-mouthed answers that sought to deflect attention onto other issues. Presidential hopeful Nikki Haley has generally adopted a waffly stance designed not to alienate anyone. She maintains she is “pro-life” but doesn’t “judge anyone who is pro-choice.” Another candidate, Tim Scott, struggled to form a coherent sentence about abortion rights last week but ultimately said he supports a federal ban on abortion after 20 weeks and would consider a ban at 15 weeks.

Simply put, abortion wins elections. Every time an abortion-related issue has been on the ballot, the people vote in favor of protecting reproductive rights, not taking them away. Republicans must know this, but they don’t want to alienate the one-third of Americans who still oppose abortion rights. So rather than address the issue, they’re burying their heads in the sand.

Florida Republicans Pass Bill Allowing Trans Kids to Be Removed From Their Families

This is just the latest anti-trans bill passed in the state, but it’s among the most dangerous.


Florida’s House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that would let the state take transgender minors away from their families if they are receiving gender-affirming care.

The measure passed by a vote of 82–31. A previous version of the bill passed the Senate earlier this month by a vote of 27–12, and the amended version now goes back to the other chamber for a final vote. Governor Ron DeSantis has previously expressed support for the bill and will likely sign it into law if it passes.

If it becomes law, the bill will allow the state to take custody of a child if they have been “subjected to or [are] threatened with being subjected to” gender-affirming care, which includes puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy. Florida courts could modify custody agreements from a different state if the minor is likely to receive gender-affirming care in that second state. The text refers to gender-affirming care as “sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures” and qualifies this care as a form of “physical harm.”

Medical facilities would have to give the state Department of Health a signed attestation that they neither provide gender-affirming care to patients nor refer people to providers that do. Their medical license renewal is contingent upon sending in this attestation. Medicaid funds could not be used to pay for gender-affirming care, even though the majority of people do not use Medicaid to pay for such treatments.

Minors who have already begun transitioning will be allowed to continue to do so, but they are no longer allowed to receive care via telehealth, including for prescriptions. Their doctors have to tell them about the “risks” of gender-affirming care, and patients will have to sign an informed consent form, which the ACLU has pointed out often contains misinformation. Doctors who violate any of these new rules could be charged with a felony.

“We’re supposed to be working to keep Floridians healthy, safe, and prosperous. We are not supposed to be here to pass ambiguous bills and take away a child’s ability to be healthy and safe,” said Democrat Rita Harris during the debate.

“Florida ranks fortieth in health care for children. You want to protect children? … And yet here we are, taking away health care from children.”

Republicans across the country have introduced bills targeting gender-affirming care, insisting that by doing so, they are protecting children. Instead, lawmakers are criminalizing LGBTQ people of all ages and putting them at risk of real harm.

And Florida seems to be leading the charge. Republicans have introduced bill after bill targeting LGBTQ people and openly admitted their goal is to erase the community from existence. A little more than an hour earlier, the House passed a bill banning drag performances, which heads to DeSantis’s desk.

House GOP’s Debt Ceiling “Plan” Calls for Medicaid and SNAP Work Requirements

The Republican proposal would fail at addressing the debt but would succeed in making people’s lives worse in more ways than one.

Kevin McCarthy
Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Republicans have introduced a debt ceiling plan that really just increases social, environmental, and financial costs.

On Wednesday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy revealed a GOP debt ceiling bill that would instate work requirements for Medicaid and food stamps, reduce funding for the Internal Revenue Service, repeal green energy programs, and block President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. 

The bill is not even guaranteed to pass the Republican-controlled House and has little chance of passing the Senate. But McCarthy’s bill is less about getting something done than trying to compel Democrats to join Republicans’ push to cut spending on services essential to hundreds of millions of people in this country.

On Medicaid, Republicans want recipients to fulfill certain income and work thresholds. If they don’t, states could kick them off their health insurance plans. A Congressional Budget Office report estimated that Medicaid work requirements would cause two million people to lose health coverage.

Republicans also want work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Adults without children must fulfill work requirements up to the age of 56, overturning current law that has the threshold at age 49. Not only are such cuts punitive in nature, but they effectively leave people more vulnerable to precarity. The less we support people preemptively, the higher the costs will be if they fall through the cracks.

On the proposed IRS cuts, the only thing conservatives would be “saving” is bloated tax evaders. A CBO analysis found that the IRS program would in fact reduce the deficit by $120 billion over the next decade (as in, the Republican proposal would add to the deficit).

The proposal also calls to repeal numerous green-related provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act, like tax credits for electric vehicles. And as we have seen, the more slowly we transition from fossil fuels to a greener economy, the more climate disaster we will face and, consequently, the more astronomical the human and financial cost will be. The conservative insistence on appeasing the fossil fuel industry and obstructing climate-friendly solutions is not only deeply crooked but fiscally irresponsible.

Such a dynamic is just as pressing when considering that the bill blocks Biden’s plan to relieve 43 million people from crippling student debt. These are millions of working people who are trying their best to bloom and live more whole and productive lives but are hindered by the burden of such soulless debt. In the short term, Republicans may frame their ideas as cost-saving, but in reality, such measures will increase medium- and long-term costs on society.

All this to say, the GOP proposal is unserious on a few counts. For one, it is self-evidently not concerned with coming to fruition; the primary conservative goal is to egg Biden and Democrats on to support cuts, lest the government default. But moreover, the bill is not about “saving” at all; it encourages money to be stolen from the government by tax-evading elites who flout the IRS, it promotes fiscal irresponsibility by way of encouraging wasteful and toxic fossil fuel reliance, and it further welcomes future social and economic costs by ways of leaving—and pressing—a boot on millions of people.