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D.C. Memo: GOP House members, including George Santos, get committee jobs

Plus: Klobuchar goes after Ticketmaster and the Supreme Court fails to find leaker of draft abortion decision.

Republican House committee assignments were given to Rep. George Santos.
Republican House committee assignments were given to Rep. George Santos.
REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

WASHINGTON — The House and Senate were both out all week for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and other D.C. dignitaries were attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, so it was a relatively quiet week in the nation’s capital.

But GOP House leaders continued their work, applying their advantage in the majority to organize committees. Rep. Brad Finstad, R-1st District, was reassigned to the House Agriculture Committee and also has a seat on the House Armed Services Committee. Rep. Pete Stauber, R-8th District, has picked up the gavel of a key Natural Resources subcommittee and moves up in seniority on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Rep. Michelle Fischbach, R-7th District, was given a seat on the prestigious Ways and Means Committee last week.

Perhaps the most notable – and noticed – Republican House committee assignments were given to Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., a freshman who was embroiled in controversy since the New York Times  reported last month that the lawmaker’s resume was a complete sham.

Since then, other media outlets have uncovered other fraudulent claims Santos has made and reported disturbing activities he’s been involved in – including setting up a GoFundMe page to raise money for a veteran’s dog who needed veterinary care for cancer and absconding with $3,000 the page collected.

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Santos lied when he said he is the grandson of Holocaust survivors, that his mother was in the Towers on 9/11 – it appears she wasn’t even in the United States – fraudulently claimed he helped develop “carbon capture technology” and claimed to have worked at companies that never employed him. Santos also claimed to be a graduate of two universities, only to admit that he has no college degree at all.

Despite the ongoing Santos scandal, which brings increasingly bizarre allegations every day, GOP leaders this week gave the freshman a seat on the Committee on Small Business and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

An increasing number of New York Republicans, as well as the Nassau County (N.Y.) GOP, are demanding Santos resign. But he says he won’t.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters he didn’t know about Santos embellishing his resume but he “always had a few questions about it.” McCarthy said that Santos should be subjected to a House ethics probe and that it’s up to voters in his district – not lawmakers – to decide his fate.  The speaker’s slim majority would shrink if Santos quits Congress.

Democrats are expected to begin organizing their committees next week.

Klobuchar goes after Ticketmaster over Taylor Swift ticketing mess

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., caused a stir by announcing this week she will hold what promises to be a very well-attended hearing next Tuesday on the problems Taylor Swift fans suffered when they tried to buy tickets the singer’s s 2023 tour on Ticketmaster. The long-awaited tour includes a June performance in Minneapolis’ U.S. Bank Stadium.

There were widespread complaints of astronomical prices, long wait times and crashing computer systems when the tickets went on sale in November. To Klobuchar, the chaos was the result of anti-competitiveness in the concert and event ticketing world. Ticketmaster has risen to dominate that industry since it merged with Live Nation in 2010.

“The issues within America’s ticketing industry were made painfully obvious when Ticketmaster’s website failed hundreds of thousands of fans hoping to purchase tickets for Taylor Swift’s new tour, but these problems are not new,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “For too long, consumers have faced high fees, long waits, and website failures, and Ticketmaster’s dominant market position means the company faces inadequate pressure to innovate and improve.”

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Klobuchar has also written the ticket company’s CEO, Michael Rapino, demanding answers to a host of questions – including how many high-profile tour tickets are available to the general public compared to those allocated to pre-sales, radio stations, VIPs and other restricted sales opportunities.

“When Ticketmaster merged with Live Nation in 2010, it was subject to an antitrust consent decree that prohibited it from abusing its market position,” Klobuchar wrote. Nonetheless, there have been numerous complaints from your company’s compliance with that decree. I am concerned about a pattern of non-compliance with your legal obligations.”

Dozens of Taylor Swift fans, known as “Swifties” have sued over the botched ticket sale.

Klobuchar’s hearing, “That’s the Ticket: Promoting Competition and Protecting Consumers in Live Entertainment,” will be held before the full Senate Judiciary Committee.

Supreme Court investigation fails to find leaker of abortion decision

The Supreme Court on Thursday said it could not determine who leaked a draft of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade.

In a report, Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley said, “it is not possible to determine the identity of any individual who may have disclosed the document or how the draft opinion ended up with Politico.”

She said dozens of people who had access to the draft opinion were interviewed, some more than once, but no one confessed to leaking the document. Curley also said there was no forensic or other type of evidence that led to a suspect. Nor were their indications the leak was a result hack, although the high court’s IT team could not rule that out.

Curley’s report did not say whether the Supreme Court’s justices were questioned.

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“The investigation focused on Court personnel – temporary and permanent employees – who had or may have had access to the draft opinion during the period from the initial circulation until the publication,” the report said.