Report: Civil rights groups quietly side with GOP on net neutrality

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The online magazine known as The Intercept reports that leading civil rights groups – “who for many years have been heavily bankrolled by the telecom industry” — have signaled support for President Donald Trump’s promise to erase net neutrality rules laid down by the Federal Communications Commission during the Obama administration.logo-all

The rules prevent internet services from giving priority to some content providers over others. From The Intercept:

In a little-noticed joint letter released last week, the NAACP, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, OCA (formerly known as the Organization for Chinese Americans), the National Urban League, and other civil rights organizations sharply criticized the “jurisdictional and classification problems that plagued the last FCC” — a reference to the legal mechanism used by the Obama administration to accomplish net neutrality.

The Intercept is making a somewhat subtle argument. In their Feb. 7 letter, the civil rights groups also say this:

“Every time the political pendulum swings, this policy debate becomes difficult, convoluted, and even condescending. One thing is crystal clear: The internet should be open and accessible.

“For this reason, we support a permanent statutory solution that enshrines the basic open internet principles into law.”

In other words, Congress should settle the matter. And the Republicans who control Congress are, by and large, opponents of net neutrality.

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President Donald Trump unleashed a stream of Twitter assaults on U.S. intelligence agencies and the media this morning, accusing them of colluding to sabotage his administration. In the process, Trump may have confirmed the basics of this New York Times piece that is roiling Washington this morning:

Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

Trump’s cascade of Tweets:

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The head of the Georgia Restaurant Association is pressing U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson to support Andy Puzder, Trump’s pick to lead the Labor Department.

In a letter to Isakson on Tuesday, association CEO Karen Bremer said Puzder, the head of a fast-food holding company, would be “uniquely qualified” for the Cabinet post because of his “extensive record of creating jobs, growing a business and creating opportunities for people to start a career.”

Read the full letter here. Isakson is one of a handful of GOP senators who has yet to formally commit to backing Puzder, causing alarm among Republicans who worry the nomination is in jeopardy of falling. Isakson’s opinion is particularly important, since he is the chairman of a Senate subcommittee that oversees labor issues.

Puzder’s nomination has been one of the most divisive so far this year after word leaked that he employed an undocumented housekeeper and that his former wife once leveled – and later withdrew – abuse allegations against him. His nomination hearing has been delayed several times. It’s currently scheduled for Thursday.

“Senator Isakson is taking all the facts under consideration before making his decision,” Isakson spokeswoman Amanda Maddox said. “Consistent with his policy on other nominees, Senator Isakson will make a final decision after Mr. Puzder’s confirmation hearing on Thursday.”

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Speaking of Johnny Isakson, the Georgia senator will have his chance to privately huddle with U.S. Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch later this morning. The three-term Republican praised the federal judge and his experience when the nomination was made public. U.S. Sen. David Perdue met with Gorsuch last week.

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Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell’s campaign for mayor has hit a rough patch. His political director T.J. Copeland took to Facebook on Friday to announce he was stepping down. We’re told several more staffers were let go in a broader shakeup this week.

On Monday, WAGA-TV’s Dale Russell  reported on a new complaint filed by the state ethics commission, alleging Mitchell failed to disclose nearly $300,000 in expenditures and contributions on his city council campaign finance reports. Among the unreported spending: A $52,992 payment to a consultant, Keisha Carter.

Mitchell’s attorney didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment. But Mitchell has long contended he has followed the law and will be vindicated.

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Over at Georgia Health News, Andy Miller reports that state Sen. Renee Unterman’s effort to draft legislation to prevent “surprise” billing of patients – hitting them with huge bills because participants brought into a procedure aren’t on an insurer’s approved network – is in limbo:

Health insurers and medical providers remain at an impasse, unable to agree on a payment method to solve the problem, said Unterman at a Senate Health and Human Services Committee hearing.

 

The Unterman proposal would create a database of reasonable charges for a procedure. If a bill is disputed, the insurer and doctor would have to work out a resolution.

 

But she said that while medical providers want to use the Fair Health database as a payment benchmark, insurers think that tool “is extremely high.”

 



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Former state Rep. Taylor Bennett took to Twitter on Tuesday to target the Republican who defeated him and another GOP lawmaker over Donald Trump’s false claims of millions of illegal voters.

Hanson, a Brookhaven attorney, steered clear.

But McKoon soon fired back, saying he’s taken steps to cancel his voting registration in Alabama:

No one likes a sore loser Taylor. I filed cancellation papers years ago. Government bureaucracy being wrong — aren’t you making our point?

To which Bennett responded: “I’m glad you did that, but really I asked a yes or no question. Is that voter fraud?”


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