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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 37)

Trump Says He’s Exploring ‘Various Tax Reductions’ and the Economic Data He Loves Shows Why

Westlake Legal Group tecon_promo_2-facebookJumbo Trump Says He’s Exploring ‘Various Tax Reductions’ and the Economic Data He Loves Shows Why United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Recession and Depression Labor and Jobs International Trade and World Market Interest Rates Customs (Tariff)

President Trump on Tuesday confirmed that he is considering “various tax reductions,” including a payroll tax cut, to stimulate the economy as many of the indicators his administration has used to showcase a Trump-fueled economic “boom” have fizzled on the back of the president’s escalating trade fights.

Companies that Mr. Trump has pointed to as signs of economic strength are now warning of weakness. United States Steel, an early champion of Mr. Trump’s metal tariffs and a frequent mention in the president’s Twitter feed, is idling workers and slowing production at a plant in Michigan. Home Depot on Tuesday lowered its sales outlook for the year as it braces for consumer spending to take a hit from Mr. Trump’s Chinese tariffs.

Consumer and small business optimism have fallen, and two in five economists surveyed by the National Association of Business Economists now expect the economy to slip into recession this year or next. Blue-collar job growth has fallen to its lowest level since Mr. Trump took office, and key surveys of manufacturing activity are near recession levels. Economic growth, which Mr. Trump once promised would soar as high as 5 or 6 percent annually, is now running at about a 2 percent annualized pace.

Mr. Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House, continued to portray the economy as “incredible” and played down any chance that the United States could enter into a recession. Any tax cut, he said, would not be done as a defensive move.

“I’ve been thinking about payroll taxes for a long time,” he said. “Whether or not we do it now, it’s not being done because of recession.”

In addition to potentially cutting payroll taxes, which would benefit workers by putting more money in their paychecks, Mr. Trump told reporters that he was thinking about unilaterally reducing capital gains taxes. Such a move would largely benefit wealthy investors by reducing the amount of taxes owed on profitable sales of stocks, bonds and other investments.

The economy is still growing and unemployment remains at a 50-year low. But several of the administration’s favorite economic data points now show unmistakable signs of a slowdown. Business investment has stalled and it slipped backward in the spring.

The indicators suggest that the effects of Mr. Trump’s trade fights with China and Europe and a slowdown in global growth are dragging on the American economy and eroding the short-term boost from the president’s 2017 tax cuts. Economists, including those at the Federal Reserve, say uncertainty from Mr. Trump’s trade policies and the impact of higher tariffs are the biggest threat to the American economy. Mr. Trump is prepared to impose new rounds of tariffs on imports from China in September and December, which will affect a large batch of consumer goods, and he has threatened to impose tariffs on imported automobiles next year.

Mr. Trump suggested on Tuesday that his fight with China would be worth some economic pain — including a brief recession — if it helped reduce America’s $500 billion trade deficit in goods with China.

“Whether it’s good or bad, the short term is irrelevant,” he said. “We have to solve the problem with China because they’re taking out $500 billion a year plus. And that doesn’t include intellectual property theft and other things. And also, national security, so I am doing this whether it’s good or bad for your statement about, ‘Oh, will we fall into a recession for two months?’”

It is unclear when — or if — the economy will tip into recession but much of the economic progress that the White House has cited, including in a series of charts last fall, has already lost steam.

Last September, administration officials walked reporters through a series of charts that they said showed the economy, under Mr. Trump, outperformed what had been its trend in the second term of President Barack Obama.

“I can promise you that economic historians will 100 percent accept the fact that there was an inflection at the election of Donald Trump and that a whole bunch of data items started heading north,” Kevin Hassett, then the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told reporters.

Nearly a year after that briefing, almost every data point the administration presented has headed south.

Perhaps the most significant shift has come in capital investment, which Republicans inside and outside the administration promised would skyrocket after Mr. Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax package that included steep cuts in the corporate tax rate and other incentives for companies to invest immediately. The charts showed nonresidential investment — money pumped into things like plants, property and equipment — surging to 8 percent growth under Mr. Trump.

New versions of those charts, updated by The New York Times to include more recent economic data, show investment growth was already slowing, or was on the cusp, last September. By this spring, it had fallen below the average quarterly growth rate for Mr. Obama’s second term.

That’s also true for equipment.

The falloff is seen even when using the administration’s preferred method for calculating growth rates. That method averages growth rates for investment over the previous six quarters, which smooths out temporary spikes in the data to show a more consistent trend line.

The final chart showed investment growth under Mr. Trump running well above forecasts made by the Congressional Budget Office in April 2018, after the tax law went into effect. That boost is no longer the case — and has not been, since last fall.

A similar story has played out in several gauges of manufacturing activity that White House officials highlighted in their briefing. The Institute for Supply Management’s Purchasing Managers’ Index, a closely watched measure of manufacturing health, has fallen to just above recession levels.

Growth in core capital goods orders, a leading indicator of capital spending, has flatlined. And job growth in goods-producing industries, which White House officials used as a proxy for blue-collar jobs, has dropped to just 1 percent.

Other indicators have also weakened since the White House trumpeted them, including the rate at which Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 are working and several measures of optimism among small business owners.

Fed officials have cited the trade war in moving to cut rates, a pattern that could continue with additional cuts this fall.

“When there’s a sharp confrontation between two large economies, you can see effects on business confidence pretty quickly and on financial markets pretty quickly,” Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell said at a news conference earlier this month.

The acting chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Tomas Philipson, said in an email last week that “the U.S. economic outlook remains strong despite slowing global growth.” He stressed that the manufacturing index remained higher than 70 percent of countries in the world, and said that standard economic models would predict the decline in investment growth after an initial spike.

“Part of the current global slowdown,” he said, “is a natural response to the prior period of strong growth.”

Mr. Trump and other advisers blame the slowdown on the Federal Reserve, which they say choked off growth by raising interest rates too fast in 2018. The Fed has since reversed one of its quarter-point rate increases, but Mr. Trump has called for it to cut rates by another percentage point.

“I think that we actually are set for a tremendous surge of growth if the fed would do its job. That’s a big if, frankly,” Mr. Trump said on Tuesday. “The fed should be cutting.”

Companies have continued to express concern about economic damage from the president’s trade war and some are beginning to tally up financial pain from higher tariffs and prolonged uncertainty.

Craig Menear, the chairman and chief executive of Home Depot, said in an earnings release that the company was reducing sales guidance in part to account for “potential impacts to the U.S. consumer arising from recently announced tariffs.” Executives at department store J.C. Penny said last week that the company is expecting a financial hit from the next wave of China tariffs, which will tax clothing and other retail products. A Kohl’s executive said the retailer had experienced unspecified damage from the first waves of China tariffs and expected additional pain from the upcoming batches.

Jeanna Smialek contributed reporting.

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Doreen Denny: Planned Parenthood chose to give up federal funding – It wasn’t forced out of Title X program

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6074712042001_6074709295001-vs Doreen Denny: Planned Parenthood chose to give up federal funding – It wasn’t forced out of Title X program fox-news/politics/judiciary/abortion fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc Doreen Denny article 33c7587d-c35d-51d4-b527-631cfcbc26f7

Planned Parenthood claims it was “forced out” of the federal Title X family planning program by the Trump administration. Hardly. The choice to exit was Planned Parenthood’s alone.

Title X is the federal program that provides access to contraceptive services, supplies and information. Priority goes to serving low-income individuals.

When the law was enacted in 1970, Congress prohibited funds from going to promote or perform abortion as a “method of family planning.” That requirement has never changed.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD ABANDONS TITLE X FEDERAL FUNDS AFTER TRUMP RULE PROHIBITS ABORTION REFERRALS

Rules prohibiting abortion were bent and unenforced under previous administrations. President Trump determined to realign Title X regulations to uphold federal law. The new rules were finalized in March after a public comment period that gave Americans the chance to weigh in.

More from Opinion

The new rules require a clinic to have full financial and physical separation from abortion services and prohibit telling patients where they can obtain abortions. However, the new rules permit counseling that can include – but no longer require – discussion of abortion. Similar Title X regulations were upheld by the Supreme Court in 1991.

Planned Parenthood applied for grants this year knowing full well that the Trump administration would be enforcing the new rules. A week ago Planned Parenthood made a high-profile threat to exit the program and begged the 9th U.S. Circuit Court for a reprieve. The appeals court refused. Monday was the deadline for grantees to start complying with the new rules or leave the Title X program.

Americans should thank the Trump administration for demanding that Planned Parenthood is now expected to abide by federal law.

For pro-life Americans, Planned Parenthood’s exit is another sign of the Trump administration’s commitment to stop federal funding of abortion. Trump gets a win with his supporters, while Planned Parenthood cries foul and lets the fundraising begin.

Planned Parenthood’s board made headlines recently by firing Dr. Leana Wen as president after less than nine months on the job. Wen’s ouster publicized internal dysfunction as well as the organization’s highest priority: abortion advocacy.

Abortion is the centerpiece of Planned Parenthood’s business. Last year the organization performed 332,757 abortions and its growth strategy includes a rising number of dangerous chemical abortions.

Planned Parenthood believes pregnancy is a physical condition that can be treated with abortion. They call it “health care.” Anyone reading this had a mother who thought otherwise and is healthier for it.

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Planned Parenthood’s public showdown over Trump’s new Title X rules put the organization’s advocacy resolve to the test. To stay would have required major changes. To leave untethers the group from an anti-abortion law it doesn’t like, but not without leaving money on the table.

Americans should thank the Trump administration for demanding that Planned Parenthood is now expected to abide by federal law. That’s the kind of taxpayer accountability we need in programs passed by Congress.

Planned Parenthood chose to stick with its abortion mission. Had the organization wanted to hang onto federal funding, it would have figured out a way to disentangle its abortion business from other family planning services. But that was never Planned Parenthood’s intent.

Other Trump administration requirements now in effect may have complicated Planned Parenthood’s mission. These requirements include greater transparency; increased accountability; and full compliance with state reporting laws for women and children who visit Title X clinics and are victims of child abuse, sexual abuse, rape, incest, intimate partner violence or human trafficking.

These rules could be major constraints for Planned Parenthood, which has operated for decades as if it was entitled to Title X funds. The federal government has repeatedly renewed grants without asking questions.

Lack of oversight has enabled serious violations. The group Live Action documented numerous cases in states across the country of Planned Parenthood’s complicit business shielding sexual abuse and sex traffickers. Clinics failed repeatedly to report these cases to law enforcement.

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A jury in Arizona just ordered Planned Parenthood to pay a former director $3 million in damages after firing and intimidating her for reporting illegal conduct. Charges included endangering women, falsifying documents and failing to report statutory rape.

With Trump’s Title X rules in force, federal taxpayers are finally getting untangled from abortion. Planned Parenthood has staged a walkout and is now unbound by federal rules. Pro-life Americans can only hope the net result is more lives saved.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE BY DOREEN DENNY

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6074712042001_6074709295001-vs Doreen Denny: Planned Parenthood chose to give up federal funding – It wasn’t forced out of Title X program fox-news/politics/judiciary/abortion fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc Doreen Denny article 33c7587d-c35d-51d4-b527-631cfcbc26f7   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6074712042001_6074709295001-vs Doreen Denny: Planned Parenthood chose to give up federal funding – It wasn’t forced out of Title X program fox-news/politics/judiciary/abortion fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc Doreen Denny article 33c7587d-c35d-51d4-b527-631cfcbc26f7

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RNC chairwoman responds to Democrat Stacey Abrams’ claim of RNC plans to intimidate voters: “Flat-out lie”

Westlake Legal Group McDaniel-Abrams-Getty RNC chairwoman responds to Democrat Stacey Abrams' claim of RNC plans to intimidate voters: "Flat-out lie" fox-news/opinion fox-news/fox-nation Fox News Staff fox news fnc/media fnc article 5c901360-b0b9-58a4-a3c2-6fab73b585a8

On Fox Nation’s “Reality Check with David Webb”, RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel responded to former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Stacey Abrams, who recently suggested that the RNC may try to intimidate minority voters during the upcoming 2020 elections.

“[A U.S. District Court Judge] just lifted a consent decree that’s kept Republicans and the RNC from going into local communities and intimidating voters by having off-duty officers tell people that they are monitoring their votes,” Abrams told MSNBC last week, adding, “For the first time since 1981, the RNC will be allowed to cheat and lie and go into polling places and scare voters, particularly voters of color.”

STACEY ABRAMS SAYS SHE WOULD BE ‘HONORED’ TO BE CONSIDERED FOR VP BY ‘ANY’ DEM NOMINEE

McDaniel told Webb that Abrams’ claims are completely untrue.  “It is a flat-out lie. It is totally irresponsible.  She should be ashamed of herself.  She is the one fear-mongering and lying.  The RNC does nothing to intimidate or suppress.  We don’t work with off-duty cops.  It is just despicable… and it’s interesting that she’s being considered as a top contender for V.P. among many of the candidates.”

Abrams’ comments referred to a federal consent decree that originated in 1982 after the Democratic National Committee (DNC) sued the GOP for allegedly trying to discourage African-Americans from voting.  The decree was renewed several times, and the DNC attempted to extend it again.  But in 2018, an appointee of former President Obama struck down that effort.  U.S. District Court Judge John Michael Vazquez ruled that the DNC did not show that the GOP had violated the 1982 agreement, and thus, he ended the decree.

“This is the politics that the left is engaging in.  Let’s create fear.  Let’s create division.  Let’s turn Republicans into monsters.  How are we going to heal this nation after this?” said McDaniel.

To see more of David Webb’s interview with RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, visit Fox Nation and join today.

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Fox Nation programs are viewable on-demand and from your mobile device app, but only for Fox Nation subscribers. Go to Fox Nation to start a free trial and watch the extensive library from Tomi Lahren, Pete Hegseth, Abby Hornacek, Laura Ingraham, Ainsley Earhardt, Greg Gutfeld, Judge Andrew Napolitano and many more of your favorite Fox News personalities.

Westlake Legal Group McDaniel-Abrams-Getty RNC chairwoman responds to Democrat Stacey Abrams' claim of RNC plans to intimidate voters: "Flat-out lie" fox-news/opinion fox-news/fox-nation Fox News Staff fox news fnc/media fnc article 5c901360-b0b9-58a4-a3c2-6fab73b585a8   Westlake Legal Group McDaniel-Abrams-Getty RNC chairwoman responds to Democrat Stacey Abrams' claim of RNC plans to intimidate voters: "Flat-out lie" fox-news/opinion fox-news/fox-nation Fox News Staff fox news fnc/media fnc article 5c901360-b0b9-58a4-a3c2-6fab73b585a8

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Italy’s Premier Resigns In Fight Within His Coalition Government

Westlake Legal Group ap_19232480927404_custom-49342051efe642447972be222fcab392fce22462-s1100-c15 Italy's Premier Resigns In Fight Within His Coalition Government

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte (right) speaks to the Senate on Tuesday next to Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini. Gregorio Borgia/AP hide caption

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Gregorio Borgia/AP

Westlake Legal Group  Italy's Premier Resigns In Fight Within His Coalition Government

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte (right) speaks to the Senate on Tuesday next to Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini.

Gregorio Borgia/AP

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has announced that his resignation amid political chaos and jockeying for power within his own coalition.

In a scathing speech to the Senate, Conte railed against his right-wing coalition partner, Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini. Conte is an independent. His coalition includes the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and Salvini’s party, the League, which is staunchly anti-migrant and euroskeptic. Conte’s government has held power for some 14 months.

Salvini’s party said earlier this month that it planned to hold a no-confidence vote against Conte. On Tuesday, Conte accused Salvini of showing “grave contempt” for parliament, and accused him of putting Italy into a possible “dizzying spiral of political and financial instability,” as The Associated Press reported.

He said Salvini initiated the crisis “for his own political and personal gain,” as NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli reported from Rome.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella will be the one to determine what happens next in Italy’s political crisis. Mattarella will talk with parliamentary groups and decide whether a new coalition government can be formed or if elections will have to be held. They weren’t scheduled for another three and a half years.

Some reports have suggested that the Five Star Movement might try to find an unlikely alliance with the center-left opposition Democratic Party. Poggioli describes them as “dire rivals” and says they’re “on opposite sides of many issues.”

It’s clear that Salvini is hoping that he emerges from the chaos as Prime Minister, Poggioli reports, though the possible alliance of rivals would sorely complicate that ambition.

Ultimately, Poggioli notes, “this is the end of Italy’s most hard line nationalist and populist government since World War II.”

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Trump Accuses Jewish Americans Who Vote Democrat Of ‘Disloyalty’

Westlake Legal Group 5d5c51c03f000057005b1910 Trump Accuses Jewish Americans Who Vote Democrat Of ‘Disloyalty’

“I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or a great disloyalty,” he told reporters when speaking about Israel barring Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), two lawmakers who have been critical of the Israeli government, from entering.

“Where has the Democratic Party gone?” he asked on Tuesday. “Where have they gone, where they’re defending these two people over the state of Israel?”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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Donald Trump says he's weighing cuts in payroll taxes, capital gains but dismisses fears of a recession

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Donald Trump says he's weighing cuts in payroll taxes, capital gains but dismisses fears of a recession

The U.S. national debt and deficit have become buzzwords for the 2020 election. But what’s the difference? Just the FAQs, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Tuesday his administration is looking at a temporary reduction in payroll taxes and other proposals to lift the economy but he dismissed warnings from private economists about the threat of a U.S. recession.

Trump said he had been thinking about reduction payroll taxes “for a long time” and said he was also interested in a possible reduction in capital gains taxes. He also called again for the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates.

“If the Fed would do its job, we’d have a tremendous spurt of growth,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office during a meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.

Private economists are warning there are signs of an approaching recession, pointing to trade tensions between the U.S. and China and yields on two-year and 10-year Treasury notes, which inverted last Wednesday. It’s the first time that has happened since the Great Recession and could indicate investors have lost faith in the soundness of the U.S. economy.

Fed bashing: Trump says Fed’s Powell ‘let us down’ by not signaling future rate cuts

Trump has insisted the economy remains strong, but senior White House officials already have started preparing a contingency plan, including a temporary payroll tax cut, to put more money in workers’ paychecks and boost growth.

Trump said he believes the U.S. economy is “very far from a recession” even as he conceded that his administration is looking for ways to increase growth.

‘No recession in sight’: Trump’s economic adviser dismisses worries about economy

Yield curve: Treasury yields invert, sounding economic alarm bells

Trump said the White House is looking at “various tax deductions,” including indexing capital gains taxes to inflation and temporarily cutting payroll taxes. But he stressed that it could take a while before any tax-cut package is unveiled.

“I’m not talking about doing anything at this moment,” he said.

Trump said “a lot of people” would like to see a payroll tax cut, which he said “very much affects the workers of our country.” 

“Whether or not we do it now or not, it’s not being done because of a recession,” he said. 

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/08/20/donald-trump-weighing-payroll-tax-cuts-steps-economy/2061234001/

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Trump: Jews that vote Democrat show ‘lack of knowledge or great disloyalty’

Westlake Legal Group qLxhOmASHp7txJ2-db61cH4l5utuhJdCZKkAOZ9EdQw Trump: Jews that vote Democrat show 'lack of knowledge or great disloyalty' r/politics

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Trump has spent nearly a third of his presidency visiting his business properties at taxpayer expense, report says

Westlake Legal Group 5DVV7s3gH1Yw40A_2XqmV1qQ0R2UFL0k6t1tPiayL5k Trump has spent nearly a third of his presidency visiting his business properties at taxpayer expense, report says r/politics

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USDA Reduces Severance For Workers Taking Buyouts

Westlake Legal Group 5d5c2c9e3f000057005b18dc USDA Reduces Severance For Workers Taking Buyouts

So many researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture have refused to leave Washington that the agency now says it can’t afford the full buyouts it had offered them.

The USDA ordered hundreds of workers to relocate to the Kansas City area, about a thousand miles from Washington. Those who didn’t want to go could take early retirement with an incentive payment worth up to $25,000. 

Now the USDA is telling workers the maximum buyout will be only $10,000.  

A spokesperson for the agency said it wanted to “do right” by its employees and offer standard buyouts “to every eligible employee who applied, instead of on a first come first serve basis.” 

Vice News first reported on the reduced buyouts. 

The American Federation of Government Employees union represents some of the workers, who organized earlier this year to try to protect themselves from the Trump administration’s capricious moves. 

“It’s hard to imagine USDA management finding more ways to demoralize the workers at these two agencies, yet they continue to top themselves at every turn,” AFGE president David Cox said. 

Last year the USDA announced plans to move two research bureaus and several hundred workers to Kansas City, ostensibly to move agriculture experts closer to farmland. Workers suspected the real reason was that the Trump administration wanted to make people quit since it can be difficult to fire federal workers. 

Mick Mulvaney, the Trump administration’s budget chief, appeared to confirm those suspicions during a speech earlier this month when he hailed the USDA’s plans to move offices as one of the administration’s greatest accomplishments. “Guess what happened? More than half the people quit!” he said.

“What a wonderful way to sort of streamline government and do what we haven’t been able to do for a long time,” Mulvaney said. 

The USDA’s relocation scheme targeted its National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Economic Research Service. The ERS happens to produce research that can be unflattering to the Trump agenda. A recent ERS report, for instance, said the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program boosts economic growth. Another credited SNAP benefits for boosting employment after the Great Recession. 

Slashing SNAP spending has been a signature policy goal of Trump’s presidency. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has said he wants to reduce “SNAP dependency,” arguing that people who qualify for benefits are poor because food benefits have made them loafers. 

The USDA had previously received approval from the Office of Personnel Management for the buyouts, which are officially known as voluntary separation incentive payments. Workers have to have been employed for three years to be eligible, and $25,000 is the maximum value. 

The USDA spokesperson said the agency doesn’t have to offer buyouts at all, and that anyone who signed up expecting the full amount could back out of their decision. The only catch is they would have to report to work in Kansas City next month. Workers have until 5:00 p.m. on Monday to make up their minds.

“Employees now have less than a week to decide whether to accept the reduced buyout, which also bars them for working at another federal agency for five years,” Cox said. “Many of these employees have spent their careers devoted to agricultural research and furthering their agencies’ missions, and they deserve to be treated better than this.”

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Oregon Officials Want To Investigate Newspaper Reporters For Reporting

Westlake Legal Group 5d5c42683f000032005b18fc Oregon Officials Want To Investigate Newspaper Reporters For Reporting

County officials in Oregon are threatening to investigate their local newspaper’s reporters for a basic part of journalism — making phone calls and sending emails — which the officials claim may constitute “telephonic harassment.”

The Malheur Enterprise reported Monday that officials in Malheur County have asked county Sheriff Brian Wolfe to open a criminal investigation into the paper’s reporting. They claim the paper’s reporters may have committed crimes by making phone calls and sending emails “after hours,” and reportedly took issue with journalists contacting personal email addresses and phone numbers. 

The threat likely stems from the paper’s recent investigative reporting on Greg Smith, a Republican state legislator who also serves as director of the county’s economic development office, and business deals that might present a conflict of interest, the Enterprise reported.

In a press release last week, Smith accused the newspaper of making “endless phone calls, hostile emails at all hours of the day and unwelcome office visits,” claiming that the paper has an “obsession with” and a “months-long vendetta against our office.” 

County counsel Stephanie Williams confirmed to the paper that she contacted Wolfe about the investigation. The sheriff told the paper he was considering whether to move forward with the probe.

Smith, Williams and Wolfe did not respond to multiple requests for comment from HuffPost Tuesday.

The Enterprise reported that Wolfe cited an Oregon state law on “telephonic harassment,” defined as “if the caller intentionally harasses or annoys another person” by calling or sending text messages, voice mails or other messages, “knowing that the caller has been forbidden from so doing by a person exercising lawful authority over the receiving telephone.”

The paper’s editor and publisher, Les Zaitz, said the possible investigation was “an effort to silence and intimidate the Enterprise.”

“Our news staff has sought information from county officials concerning important public business using standard and professional methods,” Zaitz said in a statement. “At no time has anyone from the Enterprise abused any personal cell number of a government official.”

On Twitter, Zaitz noted that the paper “has been deeply transparent” about its reporting, and cited an article published Sunday that detailed its reporting process.

Zaitz also pointed out the irony of Smith complaining about “after hours” requests, posting a screenshot of an email the paper received from Smith’s office on Saturday morning.

In a statement Tuesday, the Oregon chapter of the Society to Protect Journalists defended the paper’s reporters, noting that what they did was perfectly normal and that “there is nothing to suggest any criminal behavior by The Malheur Enterprise.”

“Journalists doggedly pursue the stories they’re working on to inform the public and their readership of what is important to their communities. It is work vital to the functioning of a healthy democracy and protected by our Constitution’s First Amendment,” said Amanda Waldroupe, president of the Oregon journalism organization. “It is not at all unusual for journalists to use any available contact information to contact a source. And, sources often share their personal contact information with journalists.”  

Waldroupe also said that Smith frequently gives out his personal contact information to reporters ― including herself — making it “all the more ironic, even hypocritical, that Smith criticizes the Enterprise.”

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