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Supreme Court Takes Campaign Finance Case

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a challenge to federal campaign contribution limits, setting the stage for what may turn out to be the most important federal campaign finance case since the court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United, which struck down limits on independent campaign spending by corporations and unions. According to the New York Times, the latest case is an attack on the other main pillar of federal campaign finance regulation: limits on contributions made directly to political candidates and some political committees. The central question is in one way modest and in another ambitious. It challenges only aggregate limits — overall caps on contributions to several candidates or committees — and does not directly attack the more familiar basic limits on contributions to individual candidates or committees. The case was brought by Shaun McCutcheon, an Alabama man, and the Republican National Committee.

Hackers Attack Apple Mac Computers

Apple said Tuesday that some of its employees’ Mac computers were attacked by hackers, a rare admission for a company that has long touted its security over PCs running Windows software. Apple said a “small number” of computers became infected after employees visited a website for software developers that transmitted the malicious computer code. The Wall Street Journal reports Apple said it would release a software update to protect Mac users, and is working with law enforcement to find the source of the so-called malware. The disclosure is unusual for Apple, which generally doesn’t detail particular attacks. In the past, the company has generally issued notices on its support page of possible vulnerabilities and issued software updates to fix them. Apple had for years boasted that its computers were resistant to malicious software, a key selling point over computers running Microsoft Corp.’s software. Hackers have increasingly targeted Macs in recent years, reflecting the growing popularity of the Apple brand and the rising number of Macs being used in companies.

Texas Lawmakers Seek To Block Federal Gun Control

Police officers could be charged with a crime for enforcing new federal gun control laws in Texas under a proposal by a lawmaker who acknowledges the measure likely would end up in the U.S. Supreme Court. Rep. Steve Toth, a newly elected Republican from the Woodlands, said his proposal would prevent officers from carrying out any future federal orders to confiscate assault rifles and ammunition magazines. “There’s a federal law, there’s a 30-round magazine right in front of you – what do I do?” Toth said in an interview. The measure known as the Firearm Protection Act “answers that question in spades,” he said. It moved Tuesday to the House Committee on Federalism. President Barack Obama has proposed federal laws banning such weapons, but no such laws currently exist.  Toth’s proposal would create a Class A misdemeanor for police officers enforcing any new federal gun regulations. It also would establish cause for the state attorney general to sue anyone who seeks to enforce new federal gun regulations. It is one of several states-rights measures being offered by conservative state lawmakers nationwide in response to federal gun control proposals. Courts have long upheld the federal government’s right to enact new laws, which generally supersede state law. Asked how legal precedent for the supremacy of federal law would affect enforcement of his bill, Toth said he expects a legal challenge.

Jesse Jackson Jr., Expected To Plead Guilty In Funds Misuse

Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., and his wife, former Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson, arrived at federal court in Washington, D.C. this morning, where they are expected to plead guilty to federal charges connected to the spending of more than $750,000 in campaign cash to buy luxury items, memorabilia and other goods. Attorneys familiar with public corruption investigations said the amount of campaign cash allegedly converted to personal use in this case is the largest of any that they can remember. Jackson Jr., who has been largely out of the public eye for eight months, is to appear in court at 9:30 a.m. Chicago time. His wife is to appear at 1:30 p.m. Chicago time. Both Jackson’s will stand before U.S. District Court Judge Robert Wilkins. Sentencing is not expected for several weeks. Jackson Jr. faces up to five years in prison, while she faces up to three years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. Prosecutors also are seeking a $750,000 judgment against Jackson Jr. and the forfeiture of thousands of dollars of goods he purchased, including cashmere clothing, furs and an array of memorabilia from celebrities including Michael Jackson, Bruce Lee and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

FBI Launches Heinz Insider Trading Probe

The FBI is looking into possible insider trading in the options of ketchup maker H.J. Heinz Co. before its blockbuster deal last week to be acquired by Warren Buffett and Brazil’s 3G Capital, a bureau spokesman said Tuesday. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and 3G said last Thursday they would buy Heinz for $23 billion in cash. Almost immediately, options market players noted there had been extremely unusual activity the day before the deal was announced. On Friday, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a suit against unknown traders who it said used a Goldman Sachs account in Switzerland to trade on purported inside knowledge of the transaction. On Tuesday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it was joining in as well. A spokeswoman for the investor group declined to comment on the FBI’s involvement. A spokesman for Goldman Sachs said the bank is cooperating with authorities’ investigations. Swiss authorities have said they have not been asked to help with the U.S. investigation.

 

 

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