Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at

Articles by Catherine

Jim Graves, Michele Bachmann's would-be Democratic challenger for the House seat in Minnesota's sixth congressional district, said Wednesday in an interview with the Huffington Post that he was surprised by the announcement that she would not seek re-election.

"The timing of the announcement really caught us off-guard," Graves said. "We thought she was going full-speed ahead."

Bachmann's announcement came as a surprise to many, as she bought a new round of television advertising just over a week ago to drum up support for her bill to repeal Obamacare.

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White House press secretary Jay Carney resisted pointed questions from reporters in a press briefing on Wednesday about Attorney General Eric Holder's involvement in the controversy surrounding the warrant issued for Fox News reporter James Rosen.

"I see no conflict between what [Holder] said and the published reports," Carney said.

The House Judiciary Committee is currently investigating whether Holder's testimony that he was never involved in the persecution of the press contradicts a report that he personally authorized Rosen search warrant.

"You guys are conflating the subpoena with prosecution," Carney countered.

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White House Press Secretary Jay Carney sent well wishes to outgoing Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) in a press briefing on Wednesday.

Carney disclosed that Bachmann's decision not to seek re-election in 2014 "did not come up" in the day's White House staff meeting, but said that "we all wish her well on her future endeavors."

State Representative Doug Cox (R) scolded Oklahoma Republicans for their stance on reproductive rights in an op-ed published in The Oklahoman on Wednesday.

Cox, a practicing physician, writes that his state's proposed legislation curtailing contraception and abortion is "great for the Republican family that lives in a gingerbread house with a two-car garage, two planned kids and a dog," but not so great "in the real world." 

Cox notes that limiting access to contraception is "a sure way to increase legal and back-alley abortions." His fellow GOP legislators are a hard sell, though: they've been hard at work defunding Planned Parenthood after last week's tornado and introducing legislation that would allow employers to deny workers birth control for any reason. Cox spoke out against both measures. 

"What happened to the Republican Party that I joined?" Cox asks himself. "What happened to the Republican Party that felt government should not overregulate people until (as we say in Oklahoma) 'you have walked a mile in their moccasins'?"

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President Barack Obama nominated former representative and tea party caucus member Ann Marie Buerkle to a seat on the Consumer Product Safety Commission last week, and as Mother Jones points out, she has a less than stellar record of protecting consumers.

During her tenure in Congress, the former representative voted to repeal energy efficiency standards and to remove protections on food, toys and drinking water, as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee notes. Buerkle also voted against protecting seniors from deceptive practices and against banning airlines from price gauging their customers.

Buerkle, who in 2010 rode a wave of tea party activism to a single term as a Republican representative in the traditionally blue 25th Congressional District in upstate New York, lost her seat in 2012. Buerkle's nomination could possibly push forward the stalled confirmation of Martha Robinson, the Michigan trial lawyer nominated last year to fill the Democratic vacancy on the committee. 

If confirmed, Buerkle will sit as a commissioner on the CPSC for a seven-year term, although she has yet to rule out running for congressional office again in 2014. 

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Arizona's Sheriff Joe Arpaio said in a pre-recorded statement on Tuesday that he will appeal a federal judge's ruling that his office violated the Constitution and racially profiled Latinos, Phoenix TV station KPHO reported.

Arpaio defended his office, saying that he "upholds the law" and that 100 of his deputies were trained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to enforce immigration law.

The lawsuit was filed by a group of citizens and legal residents who argued they were stopped or harassed by street patrols conducted by the sheriff's office because of their ethnicity. The group sought no damages but nevertheless accomplished its goal: Arpaio said he will adjust his immigration patrol practices to comply with the ruling. 

"The court's order is clear," Arpaio said. "We will no longer detain persons believed to be in the country without authorization whom we cannot arrest on state charges. I have already instructed my deputies."

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Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson confirmed to Politico on Tuesday night that she joined Apple as vice president of environmental initiatives.

Apple CEO Tim Cook announced Jackson's hiring earlier Tuesday at All Things D's annual D11 conference. While responding to a question on the government's attention to the company's tax dodging tactics, he transitioned to Apple's environmental initiatives.

"When you get larger, you get more attention. It comes with the territory. We're doing incredible work in the environment for example," he said, according to a liveblog of the event. "We've been focused on that for a long time ... eliminated toxins from all of our products, running data centers on 100% renewable energy, largest solar farm of any non-utility. Lisa Jackson is joining Apple...she recently left the EPA and will be coordinating efforts across the company. She'll be reporting to me."

The EPA's first African-American chief announced her resignation at the end of last year. Jackson's tenure had been plagued by backlash from a Republican majority in Congress that opposed her "job-killing regulations."

Jackson told Politico she was "thrilled" to join the company.

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France will hold its first same-sex marriage ceremony on Wednesday afternoon following heated protests that led to the arrests of almost 300 anti-gay demonstrators last Sunday.

Vincent Autin, 40, a gay rights activist, and Bruno Boileau, 30, will marry in front of a crowd of 500 family members, friends, activists, and journalists in a local event hall in Montpellier, a city in southern of France. A government minister will also be attendance, as will a beefed-up police contingent. 

President Francois Hollande, who campaigned on the issue last year, signed same-sex marriage into law on May 18. France is the 14th country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.

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The Swiss government said on Wednesday that it will authorize its banks under U.S. scrutiny, including Credit Suisse and the Swiss arm of HSBC, to settle inquires into tax evasion in order to avoid further criminal investigations.

The Department of Justice began cracking down on citizens using Swiss bank accounts to evade taxes back in 2009, when it compelled UBS to release the names of 4,000 account holders and pay a fine of $780 million. The investigations have already prompted one bank, Wegelin & Co., to announce its closure after pleading guilty to helping Americans evade taxes.

NBC News reported on Tuesday that an attorney for a number of conservative groups said his clients received extra scrutiny from Internal Revenue Service offices other than the Cincinnati unit, which has been embroiled in the agency's recent scandal.

The attorney, Jay Sekulow, provided NBC News with letters requesting extra information that the IRS sent to his clients, including one that was signed by the head of the agency's Exempt Organizations Department, Lois Lerner.

Lerner was suspended in the wake of the scandal, in which the agency admitted staffers in the Cincinnati office improperly targeted tea party and other conservative groups. It is unclear specifically which groups were targeted and whether Sekulow's clients were among them. Lerner's signature appeared on a letter sent to Ohio Liberty Council Corp requesting additional information for its tax-exempt status application.

Sekulow said that he has dealt with 15 agents from four different offices, including the Treasury Department in Washington, D.C., "so the idea that this is a couple of rogue agents in Cincinnati is not correct.” Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported on similar accusations from some of Sekulow's clients.

Correction: This post has been updated to show that it's unclear whether Sekulow's clients are among the groups targeted by the IRS. It has also been updated to correct the spelling of Cincinnati.

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