A weekly outreach to our friends and colleagues in Canada
Dem Déjà Vu – Democrats and the media, joined by a posse of big name Hollywood stars, all joined together and once again made a special election for an open House seat – this time in Georgia’s 6th District – a referendum on President Donald Trump. Their pre-election narrative was a win for the Democrat would have “national implications” and jump start the 2018 midterms on a wave of anti-Trump backlash. Once again they lost. Despite the massive out-of-state cash infusion to Democrat Jon Ossoff’s campaign (Editor’s note: the Los Angeles Times reported Californians accounted for more than 11,600 donations to the Ossoff campaign, kicking in over $1 million – that’s more than triple the number of donations made by Georgians), outsized media attention, and a huge volunteer effort including Hollywood personalities who drove Ossoff voters to the polls – it was Karen Handel who kept the seat in Republican hands. She won the predicted “nail-biter” by four points against Ossoff, who didn’t even live in the district. Handel is the first woman to represent Georgia in the US Congress. The seat was vacated by Tom Price who became Trump’s health and human services secretary. This is the fourth special election Democrats have lost since Trump’s November 2016 victory. Republican Ralph Norman also won a special election Tuesday to fill the South Carolina congressional seat vacated by Mick Mulvaney who resigned to become President Trump’s budget director. Democrats also came up short this year making Trump the focal point in House races in Kansas, and most recently in Montana.
Brutal Regime – The father of the American student left comatose after 18 months in a North Korean prison says the results “speak for themselves” regarding the efforts of the former Obama administration to help his son. 22-year-old Otto Warmbier died Monday in Ohio, surrounded by his family. Warmbier was in a coma, and doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said the UVA student was in a state of "unresponsive wakefulness" and suffered loss of brain tissue in all regions of his brain when he was admitted to the hospital. Last week, his dad, Fred Warmbier, praised President Trump and his administration for securing his son’s release. Mr. Warmbier said over the course of many months he appealed to government officials, from members of Congress to former Secretary of State John Kerry, to help free Otto who was jailed for removing a propaganda poster in 2016. Fred Warmbier said he was told to stay quiet by the Obama administration so as not to “upset” the North Koreans. “We relied on this false premise that they would treat Otto fairly and let him go,” he said. Doctors treating Otto Warmbier say he showed extensive loss of brain tissue consistent with respiratory arrest, when oxygen to the brain is cut off. North Korea claims the young man slipped into a coma after suffering from botulism and taking a sleeping pill. Fred Warmbier refutes that claim and a report in the New York Times said US intelligence officials say Otto was severely beaten by the North Koreans.
Meddlesome – Meanwhile, Obama’s former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified before the House Intelligence Committee yesterday that Russian interference into the 2016 election did not result in the changing of any actual votes. "I know of no evidence that through cyber intrusion, votes were altered or suppressed in some way," Johnson said. The House and Senate Intelligence Committees and the FBI are investigating Russia's efforts to hack state voting systems in 2016 and lawmakers pressed Johnson on why the Democratic National Committee rejected the Department of Homeland Security's efforts to help after Russians hacked it. "I recall clearly that I was not pleased that we were not in there helping patch this vulnerability," Johnson said. But he added, "The Department of Homeland Security does not have the power to issue a search warrant to go in over their objections." Johnson took heat from Democrats, angry that former President Barack Obama did not more forcefully announce Russia's meddling as it was happening. "Why wasn't that done? Was there thought given to that? Why was that course rejected?" asked Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee. Johnson said that Obama wanted the message out there but didn’t want it to appear he was trying to impact the election for Hillary Clinton whom he was actively supporting.
Terrifying But Not Terror – The politically-motivated shooting targeting Republican lawmakers as they practiced for a charity baseball game last week is being treated as an “assault” case and not an act of terrorism. The FBI made that announcement in a press conference yesterday morning. The FBI says James T. Hodgkinson acted alone when he opened fire on the ballfield June 14 in Alexandria, Virginia, leaving House Republican Whip Steve Scalise fighting for his life and wounding several others including a police officer. Hodgkinson was taken down by Capitol Police and later died. After several surgeries, Congressman Scalise is recovering. Hodgkinson was a virulent anti-Republican/anti-Trump hater who volunteered on the 2016 presidential campaign of avowed socialist Bernie Sanders, who ran as a Democrat. The FBI confirmed Hodgkinson had a list of names of six Republican lawmakers in his pocket at the time that he opened fire on Republican congressmen and staffers last Wednesday. Hodgkinson performed “cursory” searches online for two of those Republicans. As well, Hodgkinson researched the Republican National Convention online the night before he attempted the mass political assassination, according to law enforcement officials who said they found “more than 200 rounds of ammunition, a receipt for a November 2016 gun purchase and additional SKS rifle components” in a storage facility Hodgkinson rented in Alexandria, Virginia. The FBI also said the shooter took photos of various monuments and government buildings, including the Supreme Court and “inside the visitor’s entrance of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.”
David in DC
If it’s summertime (or fall, winter or spring) it must mean your former US Ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins, is busy working it in Washington, DC.
This week Wilkins welcomed our great friend Ian Russell, president and CEO of the Investment Industry Association of Canada, as well as several of his Board of Directors from the Canadian financial industry to the US capital city. Many meetings were had including with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Congressman Chris Stewart (R-UT), Congressman David Kustoff (R-TN) and Senator John Boozman (R-AR).
Props from Politico
Washington’s ultimate inside the beltway website Politico, mentioned David Wilkins and his work with Canada in this little tidbit Wednesday:
WHO'S HIRING LOBBYISTS TO WORK ON NAFTA: The Trump administration's impending renegotiation of NAFTA means everyone, including Mexican states and Canadian provinces, are eager to lobby up, The Hill's Vicki Needham, Megan Wilson and Rafael Bernal report. "The state of Sinaloa, which is the largest agricultural producer in Mexico, has hired Mercury, which has former Mexican government official Luis Rosendo Gutiérrez Romano as its managing director, to lobby on its behalf. Similarly, New Brunswick, a Canadian province, hired the law firm that boasts the former U.S. ambassador to Canada. That firm, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, already represents the Canadian province of Saskatchewan…”
Prayers for the Peanut Man
It is with a heavy heart that Team Wilkins joins with so many folks across South Carolina to mourn the passing of former Representative Skipper Perry.
Skipper was a member of the SC House and Wilkins was proud to be his speaker. He served for 10 years and retired in 2008. Skipper’s son, Richard, is known by many as Senator Lindsey Graham’s longtime chief of staff.
Canadians who attended David and Susan Wilkins’ epic July 4th bashes at the US Ambassador’s Residence in Ottawa will fondly remember Skipper as the (boiled) “Peanut Man” dressed out in his festive straw hat and suspenders.
He was a character to the very end and will be missed. We are praying for his wife Anne, for Richard, and for the entire Perry family. Skipper was 77.
RIP Skipper Perry. Credit: Aiken Standard
Fans of Freedom
Your Carolina-Canada Connections is taking a lil summer vacay for a week or two. So we want to take this time to wish our friends in Canada a warm and wonderful Canada Day and our American friends a happy July 4th.
May God bless the men and women of our armed services. We know freedom is not free and we owe them everything for their service and their sacrifice.
As the great Mark Twain noted: “We are called the nation of inventors. And we are. We could still claim that title and wear its loftiest honors if we had stopped with the first thing we ever invented, which was human liberty.”
They Said What?
- “Laughing my #Ossoff,”/“Thanks to everyone who breathlessly and snarkily proclaimed GA06 as a ‘referendum on POTUS.’ You were right,” – White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway on Twitter after Republican Karen Handel won the special election in Georgia against Democrat Jon Ossoff.
- “For weeks the media narrative was Ossoff was going to wipe the floor with Trump – you wouldn’t even know there was a woman named Karen Handel in the race. Then the polls started to change and now they’re saying this race is not such a big deal...it didn’t really matter,” – Nationally syndicated radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh Tuesday afternoon regarding what he expected the post-election media spin to be on the Georgia House race.
- "Steve, let me ask you one last question on this. If there was a turnout effect from the bad weather today in the district, does that have any partisan implications that you could foresee in terms of what was expected for same day, Election Day voting rather than the early vote?" – MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow pondering if the rainy weather in Georgia suppressed Democrat turnout in Tuesday’s special election.
- “This is just becoming too political on both sides. We have to stop criminalizing political differences. The criminal law should be reserved for obvious violations of the criminal law that exists, not for making political points against your political enemies on both sides,” – Harvard Law school professor Alan Dershowitz regarding special counsel Robert Mueller, a close friend of fired FBI director Jim Comey, and concerns that he has hired a slew of Hillary Clinton donors to investigate President Trump.
- “Things are so bad that I’m going to have to give Trump the last word. On June 15 he tweeted, ‘They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story.’ Unless there is some new revelation, that may turn out to be pretty accurate commentary,” – New York Times columnist David Brooks writing this week on the “striking” lack of evidence of any crime regarding the stream of accusations against President Trump.
If you are interested in the possibility of having Ambassador Wilkins speak at an event, please contact Christy Cox at Christy.Cox@nelsonmullins.com or call 803.255.9470.
The articles published in this newsletter are intended only to provide general information on the subjects covered. The contents should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Readers should consult with legal counsel to obtain specific legal advice based on particular situations.