A weekly outreach to our friends and colleagues in Canada
Weekly Washington Wrap
- Republicans in Congress aren’t making much headway on key promises to voters like repealing and replacing Obamacare but the markets sure seem content – enjoying a nonstop rally since the November 2016 election of President Donald Trump. Early yesterday morning, the Dow hit a fresh milestone, cracking the 22,000 barrier for the first time in its 121-year history. According to the Wall Street Journal this week, “America’s largest companies are on pace to post two consecutive quarters of double-digit profit growth for the first time since 2011, helped by years of cost-cutting, a weaker dollar and stronger consumer spending.” Earnings at S&P 500 companies are expected to rise 11% in the second quarter and US wages have improved enough to help bolster consumer spending without raising employer labor costs.
- Meanwhile, following another couple weeks of uproar at the White House that saw the departure of chief of staff Reince Priebus and comms’ director Sean Spicer, as well as the short-lived and profanity laced tenure of Anthony Scaramucci, Trump has sent in the Marines! Trump’s new chief of staff, General John Kelly, is a well-respected, take charge, four-star general from the Marine Corps who agreed to take the job on the condition that everyone on staff answer directly to him. He was serving Trump as head of Homeland Security. General Kelly has spent almost his entire adult life in the military since enlisting in the Marines in 1970 and saw combat duty in Iraq. In 2010, his 29-year-old son, Robert Kelly, a Marine first lieutenant, was killed when he stepped on a land mine in Afghanistan.
- An anti-corruption watchdog group wants to know why a Florida Democrat Congresswoman and former head of the Democrat National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, continued to pay a House IT aide under federal investigation who was barred from accessing the House computer system. The aide, Imran Awan, was busted earlier this week as he was trying to flee the country for Pakistan. So far he has been charged only with one count of bank fraud. He and four other House staffers have been the subject of an ongoing investigation the media has mostly ignored. For years the four have had access to the e-mails and other electronic files of members of the House’s Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees. According to published reports, “it turns out they were accessing members’ computers without their knowledge, transferring files to remote servers, and stealing computer equipment — including hard drives that Awan & Co. smashed to bits of bytes before making tracks.” In the ethics complaint filed against Wasserman Schultz, the ethics group writes, “Nearly all of the Members who employed Awan terminated his employment in March 2017. However, Representative Wasserman Schultz continued to employ and compensate Awan with taxpayer funds. For several months, Wasserman Schultz refused to remove Awan from house payroll even though he was barred from the House computer system which would presumably prevent him from performing any reasonable IT work. It wasn’t until July 25, 2017, after Awan was arrested on bank fraud charges when he was attempting to leave the country, that Wasserman Schultz fired Awan.”
- Former President Barack Obama, his fellow Democrats, Hollywood and the media are cheering Republicans inability to reach consensus on the seven years of promises they made to GOP voters to repeal and replace Obamacare. Arizona Republican John McCain shocked most everyone last week when he joined fellow Republicans, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Maine’s Susan Collins, in voting against GOP efforts to keep repeal and replace alive – effectively protecting Obamacare as currently enacted. Obama’s signature piece of legislation passed without a single GOP vote in 2010. Since that time millions of Americans have lost their doctors and premiums on Obamacare exchanges have skyrocketed – increasing by double digits every year since they were formed in 2013. Out-of-pocket expenses — including copays and deductibles — rose 40 percent, to $2,649 per person on average, between 2011 and 2014. Hundreds of counties across the country are likely to have no health insurers offering plans on their local exchanges next year.
Perfect at PNWER
It’s slated to be a scorching, sunny 107 degrees in Portland, Oregon today but last week’s conference goers attending the 27th Pacific NorthWest Region (PNWER) Annual Summit enjoyed perfect – and we do mean perfect – weather as well as an information packed conference.
Your former US Ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins, was honored to help kick things off last Monday, moderating a panel discussion featuring United States Embassy Charge d’Affaires Elizabeth Moore Aubin and Denis Stevens, the Deputy Head of Mission in Canada's Embassy to the United States of America. The trio were talking NAFTA, softwood lumber and all things US-Canada bilat.
United States Embassy Charge d’Affaires Elizabeth Moore Aubin answers the PNWER crowd questions last Monday.
David Wilkins cracks a joke (or two) last week in Portland, Oregon to PNWER conference goers.
PNWER is a statutory public/private non-profit created in 1991 by the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Washington, and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon and Northwest Territories.
It was wonderful to see so many old (and new!) friends at this year’s event including Can/Am BTA President and CEO Jim Phillips; June Dewetering with the Canada-US Parliamentary Group; Alberta’s Senior Representative to the US Gitane DeSilva; CAPP President and CEO Tim McMillan; Premier Bob McLeod of the Northwest Territories; Saskatchewan Trade Ministry’s James Kettel, as well as our great pal Matt Morrison who runs PNWER and his wonderful staff and so many others.
We’re already looking forward to the 2018 version slated for beautiful Spokane, Washington!
David Wilkins was honored to be named in the “Government Law” division as the best attorney in his field as nominated by his colleagues in the August 2017 edition of Greenville Business Magazine’s “Legal Elite of the Upstate.”
In the accompanying profile piece, Wilkins noted visiting with the brave Canadian Forces in 2007 while on a trip with former General Rick Hillier in Kandahar, Afghanistan as continuing to provide him with inspiration.
Wilkins Wind Up!
Who knew the guy who talks Clemson football all the time also has a mean change-up? Or was that a curve ball? Whatever his strategy, Wilkins placed it right over the plate last night, honored with throwing the opening pitch in Wednesday's Minor League baseball game between the Greenville Drive and Asheville’s Tourists. Wilkins was there as part of Boy Scout night and the South Carolina Blue Ridge Council’s 2017 Good Scout Award honor.
Never down in the count, Wilkins wails one over the plate!
They Said What?
- "I tell you this, if you stand up and campaign and say, we're going to repeal Obamacare and you vote for Obamacare, those are not consistent. And the American people are entirely justified in saying, any politician who told me that and voted the other way, didn't tell me the truth. They lied to me,” – Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz after the GOP-led Senate failed to repeal and replace Obamacare after seven years of Republican promises they would.
- “Yet whatever harm skinny repeal might have done to health insurance markets pales in comparison with the harm congressional Republicans have already done to themselves. Unwilling to take the political heat of repealing and replacing Obamacare as they promised, Republicans are in effect enshrining Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement – and making it their own. The most likely scenario now is that Congress will, at the behest of panicked insurers, pass legislation to shore up failing insurance exchanges. In other words, Republicans will save Obamacare,” – conservative columnist John Daniel Davidson writing for the UK Guardian.
- “And I think, similarly today, the party's lost its way. We have given into nativism and protectionism. And I think that, if we're going to be a governing party in the future, and a majority party, we have got to go back to traditional conservatism, limited government, economic freedom, individual responsibility, respect for free trade. Those are the principles that made us who we are,” – Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake on CBS News talking about his new book which takes on the GOP.
- “You’ve got to be careful with those sources down the road. Either they don’t know what they’re talking about, or they’re lying. So those sources presumably will go away. That’s my experience as a reporter,” – CNN’s Wolf Blitzer chastising his colleague CNN’s Gloria Borger after she wrongly reported a story on CNN citing her White House “sources” as the basis for her reporting.
- “The Democrat-linked firm Fusion GPS actually took money from the Russian government while it created the phony dossier that's been the basis for all of the Russia scandal fake news. And if you want to talk further about a relationship with Russia, look no further than the Clintons. As we've said time and time again, Bill Clinton was paid half a million dollars to give a speech to a Russian bank, and was personally thanked by Putin for it. Hillary Clinton allowed one-fifth of America's uranium to -- reserve to be sold to a Russian firm whose investors were Clinton Foundation donors. And the Clinton campaign chairman's brother lobbied against sanctions on Russia's largest bank and failed to report it. If you guys want to talk about having relations, which you seem obsessed with doing, look no further than there,” – White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at Tuesday’s press briefing pushing back on the mainstream press Trump-Russia narrative.
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.