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D.C. Memo: Take my Twitter … please

President Biden vs. inflation, Angie Craig tries to ban members of Congress from owning stocks and Pete Stauber on Minnesota police departments.

Twitter users
REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration
Hello and welcome back to the D.C. Memo. This week you can find me thinking about my perfect reality: Elon Musk buys Twitter and destroys the website, saving every Twitter user’s mental health. This isn’t totally out of left field — Musk was offered a spot on Twitter’s board of directors recently and today made an offer to buy the company at about $43 billion. He said Twitter has the “potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe.” OK, maybe he won’t destroy it, but one can hope. In Washington this week: President Biden vs. inflation, Angie Craig tries to ban members of Congress from owning stocks and Pete Stauber on Minnesota police departments.

What to do about inflation

Most Democrats agree high gas prices and the inflation rate they’re driving up are huge political liabilities as the midterm elections loom on the horizon. What they don’t agree on is what to do about it.

President Joe Biden was in Iowa on Tuesday as the new 8.5 percent (let’s say it again for the people in the back … 8.5 percent) annualized inflation rate was announced. Biden was addressing concerns about energy costs and highlighting his decision to remove restrictions on the sale of E15, an ethanol-gas mix the administration hopes can ease the proverbial pain at the pump.

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“I’m not going to wait to take action to help American families,” Biden said. “I’m doing everything within my power by executive orders to bring down the price and address the Putin price hike.”

During this visit, Biden announced his administration would temporarily lift a Clean Air Act rule to allow higher ethanol blended gasoline to be sold through the summer in an effort to bring down gas prices.

Second District Rep. Angie Craig applauded the move by Biden. 

“I am glad that the Biden administration is taking this action, which, especially as we work to lessen our dependence on foreign energy producers and hold Russia accountable for its unjustified invasion of Ukraine, is an announcement that all Americans can support,” Craig, a Democrat, told the Minnesota Reformer in a statement. 

Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith along with Gov. Tim Walz, all Democrats, also voiced their support for the move, which is estimated to bring down the cost of gas by about 10 cents per gallon.

Taking stock

Craig has been working for months on her effort to ban members of Congress from owning and trading individual stocks while in office. The movement is picking up more momentum, and as public support for the measure rises more members are stepping up to support Craig, who earlier this year introduced a bill that would ban members of the House from owning and trading stocks.

She joined a group of nearly 20 bipartisan members of Congress Tuesday in writing a letter urging House leadership to take action to advance her legislation. The letter, sent to House Administration Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-IL), outlined three core provisions for future legislation banning stock ownership: a ban on direct ownership and trading of individual stocks by members’ spouses and dependents, no exceptions for stocks acquired before entering Congress and effective enforcement of the rules with heavy fines.

“We write today to urge your committee to advance strong legislation to ban members of Congress from directly owning or trading stocks while in office,” the lawmakers wrote. “While we are encouraged that the Committee on House Administration has held a hearing on this issue, we urge you to swiftly follow up on this hearing with a markup to advance bipartisan legislation, such as the TRUST in Congress Act or the Ban Conflicted Trading Act.”

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The letter follows last week’s hearing where the committee heard testimony in support of a stock trading ban.

Kistner gains support from big names

Tyler Kistner is running for Craig’s seat as the representative for Minnesota’s Second Congressional District for the second time, and he’s garnered some support from prominent Republicans. In a press release, Kistner announced endorsements from Republican Whip Steve Scalise (LA) and Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (NY).

“Tyler Kistner is a strong recruit for our party. His record of service will bring unique experience and knowledge to Washington, and I know Tyler will be a tireless defender of American freedom and security,” Scalise said.

“Tyler has a long record of service both overseas and at home, and I know he will be a strong advocate for Minnesota in Congress,” Stefanik said. “This is a crucial race to take back our House majority, which is why I am fully behind Tyler Kistner and look forward to working with him in Congress.”

Kistner has faced some criticism over what some have called misuse of campaign funds when he reimbursed himself  nearly $7,000 for mileage in one fiscal quarter last year, but it does not seem to have lost him much (if any) support from the GOP.

Copping out

Eighth District Rep. Pete Stauber (R) stopped in Hermantown Wednesday to meet with Duluth Police, Hermantown Police, and the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office leaders and  discuss challenges local law enforcement agencies are facing. 

According to Duluth’s CBS affiliate, those in attendance discussed topics ranging from the small officer hiring pool to the changes in policing since the police murder of George Floyd.

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Stauber said key takeaways from his discussion were the “desperate need for officer recruitment” and the “record-setting low morale across the profession.”

“Morale has never been this low, and so we have an opportunity to talk and show the public how important law enforcement is to our communities,” Stauber said. “When you defund and disparage the police, crime rises. We have seen that across the nation.”

In many places, police morale has plunged and retirements and resignations have soared. A June 2021 survey of nearly 200 departments by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a nonprofit think tank, showed a startling 45 percent increase in the retirement rate and a nearly 20 percent increase in resignations in 2020-21 compared to the previous year. Anecdotal evidence has shown that the trend has continued into 2022.

What I’m reading

  • “What a Black comic artist saw during Ketanji Brown Jackson’s hearings,” Washington Post. The Post has been doing a great job lately using comics as news storytelling platforms. Its gender coverage especially has done well in incorporating this art into an everyday publishing schedule. This one, which illustrates what Jackson went through during her Senate hearings to become the newest Supreme Court Justice, was particularly enjoyable.
  • “The four-hundred-year-old fruit that built New York,” the New Yorker. Honestly, this is a cute, lovely read about fruit from the perspective of a guy who likes fruit. Bonus points for an included history lesson that might take you out of the monotony of your day. Read it. It’s nice. I liked it.

That’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading. As always, please feel free to send any questions, comments or stories about the history that your favorite fruit carries to ahackett@minnpost.com.