<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Chicago Political News and Chicago Politics]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.comen-usMon, 02 May 2016 20:36:10 -0500Mon, 02 May 2016 20:36:10 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Ted Cruz Says Young Heckler Deserves a Spanking]]> Mon, 02 May 2016 12:34:14 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ted-cruz1.jpg

Ted Cruz responded to a young heckler who yelled out "you suck" during a campaign event in Indiana by telling the child that such an outburst would land him a spanking in the Cruz household.

The heckler, described by an NBC reporter as a boy who appeared to be 10 years old, interrupted Cruz as he was speaking in La Porte on Sunday.

"Apparently there is a young man who is having some problems," Cruz said.

The person could then be heard yelling, "You suck!"

"Thank you son. You know I appreciate you sharing your views," Cruz responded. "You know, one of the things that hopefully someone has told you is that children should actually speak with respect."

The audience roared its approval as Cruz, a father of two, continued to riff on his parenting views.

"Imagine what a different world it would be if someone had told Donald Trump that years ago," he said. "You know, in my household, when a child behaved that way, they’d get a spanking."

Cruz faces a key vote in Tuesday's key Indiana primary against front-runner Trump, who has a 15-point lead in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[CPS Teachers Lean Against May Strike]]> Mon, 02 May 2016 14:25:51 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CTU+Strike.png

Parents in Chicago may not have to worry about a teachers strike this school year. 

The Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey confirmed to NBC 5 Monday that a strike is unlikely to happen this month, but he's not ruling out the possibility of a strike in September. 

State law allowed teachers to walk off the job as early as mid-May, but the union decided against it because it would result in the loss of their salary and health insurance heading into the summer months.

Teachers were also concerned about losing the support of parents who would be forced to find last-minute child care during a disruption to the end of the school year. 

A more likely strike date would be in September, after teachers get their first paychecks of the new school year, Sharkey said. 

Summer months would give both CTU and Chicago Public Schools additional time to come to terms on a new contract. It also gives state legislators time to consider additional school funding proposals. 

The union bargaining committee plan to meet Wednesday to discuss a possible strike date.

The union said in a statement released Monday, however, that members have yet to make an official decision.

"The Union’s members have yet to decide when or if we will go on strike in the coming days or during the next school year. State law requires a 10-day notice to our employer if we intend to do so," CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin said in a statement. “Until such notice is given, the CTU is asking all of its members to continue to show solidarity in CPS buildings by wearing red on Fridays, using lunch breaks to talk about long-term revenue solutions and continuing to work with parents and students as this school year creeps to a close. If CPS ends the school year now, it is because its broke-on-purpose budgeting schemes could not afford to keep the doors open in the first place.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trump in Indiana Says China Is 'Raping' America]]> Mon, 02 May 2016 05:57:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/TRUMP_AP_16122772500150.jpg

Speaking about trade policy at a rally in Indiana, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump took his rhetoric about China to a new level Sunday. 

"We can't continue to allow China to rape our country," Trump told a crowd in Fort Wayne. "That's what they're doing. It's the greatest theft in the history of the world." 

Trump previously has come under fire for using offensive or degrading language. 

At the same Indiana rally, Trump questioned whether Democratic contender Hillary Clinton has the "strength or energy" to make America "great" again — a line that has drawn allegations of sexism in the past.

His speech was one of several in Indiana over the weekend ahead of the state's critical primary.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Sanders Insists He Can Still Win the Dem. Nomination]]> Sun, 01 May 2016 21:32:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/526912210-bernie-sanders-contested-convention.jpg

Facing a large delegate deficit, tough odds and just 10 remaining state contests, Senator Bernie Sanders made it clear Sunday that he intends to fight on to become the Democratic presidential nominee, NBC News reports.

Sanders' stated path relies on primary opponent Hillary Clinton not reaching a majority of pledged delegates and on superdelegates' switching their allegiances.

"It is virtually impossible for Secretary Clinton to reach a majority of convention delegates by June 14 with pledged delegates alone," Sanders, a senator from Vermont, said at a news conference at the National Press Club, indicating he would fight to persuade superdelegates to flip their support.

"In other words, the convention will be a contested contest," he said of the Democratic National Convention to take place in Philadelphia in July.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[A Look at Clinton's Promise of a Cabinet Full of Women]]> Sun, 01 May 2016 16:42:00 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_16122673573195-hillary-clinton-campaign-trail.jpg

Hillary Clinton last week pledged that, if elected, she would appoint a presidential cabinet in which at least half of the members are women, a move that would profoundly shift the look of the people who govern America, according to NBC News.

Clinton, in an interview on Monday with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, said, "I am going to have a cabinet that looks like America, and 50 percent of America is women, right?" 

Only 30 women have ever held Cabinet posts. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama appointed a number of women to key posts, but women held just four of the 16 official Cabinet posts during most of their tenures. Clinton is pledging to double that number.

"No hint of quotas or numeric targets — other than 'more than my predecessor' — has ever been part of cabinet head discussions before," said Heather Hurlburt, who served as a senior adviser at the State Department and National Security Council from 1995-2001. "So it's an enormous deal."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Leads Cruz in Crucial Indiana Primary: Poll]]> Sun, 01 May 2016 09:17:30 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_161110678355521.jpg

Donald Trump holds a 15-point lead over Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the potentially decisive May 3 presidential primary race in Indiana, according to results from a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll.

Trump gets support from 49 percent of likely Republican primary voters in the state, followed by Cruz at 34 percent and John Kasich at 13 percent. If that margin holds on Tuesday, Trump would be on path towards obtaining the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the GOP nomination on a first ballot at the GOP convention in July.

According to the poll, 58 percent of likely Republican primary voters in Indiana say they disapprove of Cruz and Kasich teaming up to beat Trump in the state.

Meanwhile, in the Hoosier State's Democratic contest, Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders by just four points, 50 percent to 46 percent.

Photo Credit: AP, file]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Roasts GOP Candidates at WH Correspondents' Dinner]]> Sun, 01 May 2016 06:06:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WhiteHouse-GettyImages-526666530.jpg

President Barack Obama pulled out the punches during the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in Washington, D.C., Saturday, taking jabs at the candidates vying for the Republican nomination. 

"It is an honor to be here at my last, and perhaps the last White House Correspondents' Dinner," he said, telling the audience how great they looked before getting right down to business.

Obama told the crowd at the 102nd and final dinner that his approval ratings have been rising, even in his final year in office. 

"What has changed?" he asked. "No one can figure it out." 

Obama paused, allowing a moment to pass before a split-screen of Sen. Ted Cruz and GOP front-runner Donald Trump popped up on screen. 

Obama didn't stop there. He called out top Republicans, who have touted Paul Ryan as a possible nominee, if one can’t be chosen before the GOP convention in July. 

"Steak or fish?” he told the audience, referring to the choice on the evening’s menu. "A whole bunch of you wrote Paul Ryan. You may not like steak or fish, but that’s your choice." 

Ryan has said he will not seek the nomination. 

Obama wasted no time cutting into the three GOP candidates, saying "some candidates aren’t polling high enough to qualify for their own joke" over a photo of Ohio Gov. John Kasich. 

"And then there’s Ted Cruz," he said, calling out the Texas senator for a mistake he made this week in Indiana when he referred to a basketball hoop as a "ring."

"What else is in his lexicon? Baseball sticks? Football hats? But sure, I’m the foreign one," Obama said, before moving on to an absent Trump. 

"Is this dinner too tacky for 'The Donald'?"

Trump’s absence "hurt" Obama, who said he "had so much fun last time." Obama has singled out the real estate mogul in previous years, making fun of Trump's hair and the businessman's quest to see Obama's birth certificate. 

"Is he at home eating a Trump steak?" Obama asked. "What’s he doing?"

The president went on, making jabs at Trump's lack of foreign policy and experience, and his real estate prowess. 

"There's one area where Donald's experience could be valuable. And that's closing Guantanamo, because Trump knows a thing or two about closing waterfront properties into the ground."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cruz Defends Position on 'Bathroom Bills' ]]> Sun, 01 May 2016 10:03:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CruzMTP-Screen-Shot-2016-04-30-at-7.53.59-PM.jpg

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is standing his ground in his belief that allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice opens the door for people "who are predators," dismissing criticism from reality TV star and transgender activist Caitlyn Jenner.

"The real danger is not people who are transgendered. It's people who are predators,” Cruz said in an interview with NBC's Chuck Todd. "People who are predators…use that law as an excuse to go target our kids. And that is a real danger," he added.

Following a recent comment by Donald Trump in which he said Jenner could use any bathroom she wanted at Trump Tower, the former Olympian used a women's bathroom at a Trump property and posted a video to Facebook with the caption: "By the way, Ted, nobody got molested."

Cruz also criticized Trump, President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for coming out for so-called "bathroom bills" like the one passed in North Carolina.

Photo Credit: NBC News
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<![CDATA[White House Correspondents' Dinner 2016]]> Sat, 30 Apr 2016 20:13:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WhiteHouseDinner-GettyImages-526658212.jpg President Barack Obama hosts the 102nd White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, also known as the "Nerd Prom." The biggest names in politics and entertainment will come out to watch the event, also known as the "Nerd Prom." This is the president's last chance to throw out the zingers at politicians, the press and himself. Obama's final dinner comes amid a heated and frenzied presidential campaign.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Alderman Refuses to Apologize For Using Racial Slur]]> Sat, 30 Apr 2016 08:58:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/david+moore+laraviere+presser.jpg

A Chicago alderman doubled down on his controversial use of a racial slur Friday, after using the N-word in a Facebook post criticizing the reassignment of Blaine Elementary School principal Troy LaRaviere. 

"I neither regret nor apologize," 17th Ward alderman David Moore said at a press conference Friday. "In this context, the word n----- was purposely used as an evocative metaphor that highlights the pejoratively reality that black people, our community, and our voice has been and continues to be, perceived as less than and irrelevant at the table of power."

Moore, who was elected in 2015, published the post using the racial slur on April 21, saying he was "appalled" by LaRaviere's reassignment. 

"All I hear is, stay in your place N-----, and don't you dare challenge the DICTATORIAL AUTHORITY designed to put corporate profits over effective public education," the post reads. 

LaRaviere, an outspoken critic of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS policies, was reassigned on April 20. He told NBC5 he was given "no explanation," though a Board of Education official said at a community meeting on Monday that his removal "was not a political decision" but a "disciplinary, legal issue."

CPS spokesperson Emily Bitner said LaRaviere's removal involves a total of 12 charges, including ethics violations, insubordination and wrongful use of equipment. 

"I have had a front row seat to this my entire life, as a child, and a man growing up in Chicago, working in city government, and as a father," Moore said Friday. "As I listen to the voices of many constituents, the Troy LaRaveiere saga is yet another plot in the 'N-----, stay in your place' book of short stories to which many black people can relate and contribute."

LaRaviere has been reassigned to his home. His first hearing, which is not public, will be held April 29th. The process may take six to nine months.

Photo Credit: NBC5]]>
<![CDATA[Clinton Team Shifting Staff to General Election States]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 16:18:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-524679204.jpg

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is preparing to hire staffers in some of the general election’s battleground states, NBC News reported.

A Clinton campaign official told NBC News the first wave of new hires and reassignments will involve state directors and other senior staff. The campaign is setting up state directors in Florida, New Hampshire and Colorado, and will eventually have general election operations in every state. 

The aide stressed that Clinton will continue to campaign in the remaining primary states. 

The news was first reported in USA Today.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rev. Jackson Supports Gas Tax Proposed To Combat Violence]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 16:04:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/jessejacksonsr123.jpg

Rev. Jesse Jackson is backing an effort proposed by Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin to use a gas tax to create jobs for youth as a means to combat gun violence.

"I believe the antidote to the zone of crisis is jobs, skill trades training and education- the opposite of policing the problem,” Jackson said in a statement.

The legislation would rely on a 4-cents-per-gallon tax increase on gasoline. The tax money would be used to create the Cook County Jobs Council, which would be composed of county officials and local business leaders.

Jackson held a press conference Friday at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition to pledge his support for the Community Stabilization & Anti-Violence Act. He was joined by Boykin, St. Sabina Fr. Michael Pfleger, Chicago Urban League President Shari Runner and former head of DEA Peter Bensinger.

"We are in a state of emergency, a real crisis," Boykin said. "We have come up with this plan to stay on the offensive, if you will."

The council would be responsible for identifying areas in the county with high unemployment among 16-24 year olds and creating jobs for them.

The legislation is also aimed at using the Justice Advisory Council to train parents using a message that emphasizes zero-tolerance for violence.

Under the plan, the Office for People with Disabilities would be established as a way of meeting the needs and advancing the well-being of people with disabilities.

“The increase in gunshot victims in Cook County has led to a greater number of individuals becoming permanently disabled,” the summary reads. “The Office will provide a strong voice for people with disabilities and connect them to available County resources.”

The legislation would also create a Community Policing Initiative to improve the relationship between communities and the law enforcement departments that police them. The initiative would be overseen by Sheriff Dart.

"This isn't something that is just the City of Chicago, it's not," Dart said. "It's throughout the county and the county is craving the same thing, a thoughtful jobs program. And it is the only thing that is going to solve this."

Funds from the tax would be used to hire 15 new Sheriff’s police officers to serve neighborhoods with high violence.

All told, the effort would put more than $45 million towards jobs programs and another five million for policing, parenting and people with disabilities.

<![CDATA[Trump's Bill Unpaid After 3 Months]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 19:13:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Trump-GettyImages-503927392.jpg

The city of Burlington, Vermont, is considering calling a debt collection agency on a billionaire: Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

Mayor Miro Weinberger, a Democrat, said Trump is nearly three months late paying an $8,500 bill the city sent his campaign on Feb. 1 for police and fire overtime costs associated with a recent stop in Vermont's largest city.

"We actually had the city attorneys looking into this; there's some complication on an issue like this," Weinberger said in response to an necn question about whether he would seek a collection agency's services.

Weinberger added that the city should have a plan soon about how to address the unpaid bills.

Trump held a rally Jan. 7 at Burlington's Flynn Center for the Performing Arts but issued thousands more tickets than there were seats. The city wanted extra personnel to handle the crowds and any potential problems, Weinberger said.

"It could have been a much better-coordinated and organized event," Weinberger told necn. "And had it been, it would have been much easier for the city to accommodate."

Weinberger said the city embraces the process of democracy, and he believes candidates should meet their constituents on the campaign trail. However, the  mayor urged campaigns to coordinate more closely with municipalities in scheduling and planning visits like the one Trump made to Burlington.

Weinberger made it clear the unpaid bills will not bankrupt Burlington or have any serious adverse effects. He said the city’s police department has a more than $10 million annual budget, so the $7,200 portion of the bills for police costs are only a very small percentage of the overall picture.

Still, Weinberger said the city could use the money for any host of purposes and would appreciate payment.

The mayor noted that hometown candidate Bernie Sanders, who is seeking the Democrats' nomination for the White House, paid his bills on time for police and fire support, as well as other fees, following a campaign kickoff on the Burlington waterfront last May.

Campaigns do have a history of skipping out on the check.

Through a request to the South Burlington Police Department, necn obtained a July 2011 email chain between Chief Trevor Whipple and a New England representative of President Barack Obama's reelection effort. In the emails, the chief was looking for reimbursement for extra staffing costs for security and traffic control for a presidential campaign fundraiser.

Trevor Whipple said Thursday he never heard back on that 2011 request.

"It's frustrating," Whipple said. "Where it's discretionary, especially where it's fundraising, my expectation is [candidates] should bear the cost of that. They should be responsible for reimbursing the taxpayer for the cost of that additional service that would not have been necessitated were it not for this fundraising event."

Whipple said if visits by dignitaries were for official business, he would not seek reimbursement. But he said he sees political fundraisers in particular as different, and the kind of event for which taxpayers deserve repayment.

Necn reached out to a spokesperson for the Trump campaign regarding the city of Burlington's claims, but had not heard back at the time of publication.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Do Celebrity Endorsements Help or Hurt?]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 06:48:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DAWSON_GettyImages-521061462.jpg

Celebrity surrogates have been ubiquitous on the campaign trail this season, frequently been driving the 2016 news cycle — and in some cases, forcing their preferred candidates off message.

In a crowded media marketplace, the prominence of a celebrity surrogate can make a difference — at least when it comes to media attention — but unlike most traditional political representatives, they are infamously difficult to control.

During an appearance on "Late Night with Stephen Colbert" Wednesday, actress Susan Sarandon, a passionate Bernie Sanders supporter, doubled down on her refusal to say whether or not she would support Hillary Clinton in a one-on-one race against Trump. And unscripted diatribes on Sanders' behalf from stars like Rosario Dawson, Killer Mike and Tim Robbins have begged the question: Are these kinds of endorsements really worth it?

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Public Schools Prepares Contingency Plan in Case of Teachers Strike]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 22:36:03 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/lewis+claypool.jpg

When Chicago teachers marched through the Loop in early April, they put Chicago Public Schools on notice that a strike before the end of the school year is a real possibility.

Now, CPS is making plans on how to handle what could be a shortened semester, attempting to ensure in particular that seniors will be able to matriculate. 

"We have contingency plans in motion," CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said Thursday. "We are working closely with our principals to ensure that our children can graduate and that a strike would not prevent them from graduating."

Both the school district and the teachers union continue to negotiate, and to look to Springfield. 

The Chicago Teachers Union is looking to revamp the school funding formula.

"The District desperately needs sustainable, stable and increasing revenue to finance its operations," said CTU President Karen Lewis. 

Chicago Faith leaders met with Governor Bruce Rauner Thursday morning, seeking some kind of funding solution that would keep Chicago Schools open.

"He listened and he talked, and we listened and we talked. It was a great dialogue," said Rev. Walter Turner of the New Spiritual Light Missionary Baptist Church.

"We hope there is not a strike, and our intention is as always to get a deal and we are going to do everything possible to get a deal," Claypool added. 

The earliest that teachers could go on strike is May 16.

<![CDATA[The Rocky History Between Cruz and Boehner]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 19:40:51 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/split2-cruz-boehner.jpg

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz personally told NBC News he had not met John Boehner, when he addressed comments made about him by the former House Speaker.

But the two men do have a past: Ted Cruz was once Boehner’s lawyer, when Boehner sued Washington state Democrat Jim McDermott over a leaked recording. Boehner filed the lawsuit in 1998 involving the illegal interception of an embarrassing phone call in which Boehner discussed House leadership business. He said his personal privacy was violated. 

Boehner won the case — part of which was handled by Ted Cruz. Sources close to Boehner told NBC News the two met during the lawsuit, but likely never had contact after Cruz arrived on Capitol Hill in 2013. 

For Boehner, Cruz led the political charge against him, when he was effectively a “player coach” in the move to oust the former speaker last year. 

Through the government shutdown in 2013, Cruz helped influence House members in the dissent that made the former speaker choose to step aside in 2015. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cub Reporter Broke 'Lucifer' Story]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 21:06:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/boehner-Ada_Throckmorton.jpg

Stanford Daily cub reporter Ada Statler-Throckmorton, 20, has spoken with big names and tackled weighty topics in the past.

The student from Prairie City, Kansas, has done a Q&A with Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey and covered the controversial fuel-free movement at the prestigious university in Palo Alto.

But she’s never broken a national news story like the one she did on Wednesday night at Stanford University’s CEMEX Auditorium. That’s where she was the first to report to the world that former House Speaker John Boehner called fellow Republican and presidential hopeful Ted Cruz "Lucifer in the flesh."

As far as she knows, she was the only reporter covering the speech, other than internal Stanford media. And when Boehner said those words, she knew it was big. But she didn’t know just how big — so big that her mother heard about it while listening to NPR early Thursday morning.

Google News returned about 300 articles for a search of Boehner and "Lucifer in the flesh" Thursday afternoon, including all the major American political news sources, all of which cite Statler-Throckmorton's story. The Stanford Daily's original article has more than 1,000 comments and 8,000 shares on Facebook, amid what its managing editor told CNNMoney is record web traffic.

“I didn’t realize it would go this viral and this fast,” Statler-Throckmorton said, noting she isn't even a journalism student, but is majoring in Earth Systems and wants to go into environmental communications.

Boehner didn’t stop at comparing Cruz to the Devil, though, and Statler-Throckmorton wrote down what he said in a candid speech that was not broadcast or videotaped: “I have Democrat friends and Republican. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.” The Stanford Daily was able to capture some audio of the now-hyped up talk.

Later in the day — and all thanks to the scrappy Stanford sophomore — Cruz held court with reporters, taking aim at Boehner, saying the former speaker allowed his "inner Trump to come out." As for the "Lucifer" comment, Cruz said: "If John Boehner is calling me 'Lucifer,' he’s not directing that at me.  He’s directing that at you."

Statler-Throckmorton has been sought after from major news outlets ranging from Fox to CNN to NBC News, which is all the more curious to her because the headline of her campus newspaper  - “John Boehner talks election, time in office” - certainly does not sell the story the same way those outlets did. 

The Stanford Daily hadn’t promoted the story by the time the first news organization latched onto it, and Statler-Throckmorton doesn’t even have a Twitter account. She still doesn’t know who first picked up her story.

Victor Young Xu, the managing editor of news at the campus paper, told CNNMoney that on a typical day the entire site draws 11,000 to 13,000 page views. 

Xu told CNNMoney the Boehner story had already reached 169,220 page views as of 11:40 a.m. PT, which represented 94.5 percent of all visits to the site. To compare, the second most-viewed story published over the last year — a satirical piece on Stanford's admissions rate — drew a little over 40,000 views.

Relishing in her 15 minutes of fame, Statler-Throckmorton said she’s been trying to juggle all the media attention cast on her while paying attention to classes. 

As for her family’s own political leanings, Statler-Throckmorton said “we’re certainly not Republicans.” But she added she certainly kept an open mind to what the former speaker of the House had to say. 

“He was very interesting to listen to,” she said.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area; Inset: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Questions Swirl Over Hastert's Seemingly Short Prison Sentence]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 18:01:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/227*120/Hastert+April+27.png

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert was sentenced Wednesday to 15 months in prison, which prompted many to question how an admitted serial child molester could have received a punishment of just over one year behind bars.

The key aspect to understand is that Hastert has not actually been charged with committing any form of sexual misconduct. Hastert was charged with a financial crime: one felony count of concealing banking activity by withdrawing large sums of cash in small denominations to avoid federal reporting requirements.

This crime is known as structuring. The federal government requires banks to report withdrawals larger than $10,000, as a way to monitor and prevent illegal activity that typically requires massive cash transactions, like drug deals, money laundering, or tax evasion. Obscuring large sums in multiple withdrawals, as Hastert did, can typically carry a sentence of up to five years in prison.

Hastert pled guilty to structuring in October 2015, admitting in court that he had withdrawn $1.7 million to pay hush-money to an individual he had wronged decades ago as a wrestling coach in Yorkville. In court Wednesday, when Judge Durkin asked if Hastert had sexually abused one victim named Stephen Reinboldt, he simply replied, "Yes."

Despite openly admitting to the sexual abuse allegations against him, Hastert cannot be charged with the molestation of Reinboldt, or any of the other four accusers in his case, because the statute of limitations in Illinois has already expired.

The instances of sexual assault detailed in court Wednesday occurred in the 1970's. But in order to be prosecuted for criminal sexual assault in Illinois, the crime must be reported within three years of its occurrence, or if the victim is underage, within three years after the victim turns 18.

Obviously, all victims in this case are well past 21, and the three-year time limit is long over. Criminal sexual assault can carry a sentence of decades in prison, even life behind bars for repeat offenders. But because of the statute of limitations, Hastert could only be charged with the financial crime which carries a much shorter penalty. 

Many people expressed confusion and even outrage over Hastert's prison sentence, U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon included. 

"I am also frustrated," Fardon said Wednesday. "Is anybody satisfied with this process given the gravity of this horrific crime? I wish Mr. Hastert had been called under the carpet in 1968. This is imperfect but this is what we got."

Even if the statute of limitations were changed in Illinois (which would require legislative action in Springfield), the new deadline would not apply to an older case like Hastert's—only instances that occur thereafter.

<![CDATA['If We Win In Indiana, It's Over': Trump]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 16:48:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/TrumpIndiana-AP_16119692031356.jpg

Donald Trump set the stakes of the Indiana primary Thursday, saying he refused to take time off from the campaign trail because of the importance of the primary, NBC News reported. 

Trump continued his pivot toward the general election with the rally in Indiana, where he told the audience he “will be so much better to women than Hillary Clinton is — for health care issues, on the protection of our country.” 

"If we win in Indiana, it's over," he said.         

Trump told the audience Clinton can’t win New York because the Clintons “abandoned Arkansas for New York” and aren’t “real New Yorkers.” He also insisted Clinton “doesn’t do great in Arkansas,” even though she won the state's Democratic primary.

It's a hint at where Trump's focus lies after primary wins across the Northeast on Tuesday, putting him closer to the nomination.     

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[USHCC Endorses Clinton, Kasich]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 17:46:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/split2-march15-kasich-clinton.jpg

The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce announced Thursday it is endorsing Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican John Kasich, in its first ever endorsement of any presidential candidate, NBC News reported.

"Secretary Clinton has stood with the USHCC and the Hispanic community at-large for decades," USHCC president and CEO Javier Palomarez said in a statement. "For more than 40 years, Secretary Clinton has fought to ensure that those who are willing to work hard in America have the opportunity to get ahead and stay ahead." 

Palomarez added that Kasich “understands that sustainable economic growth is needed in order to allow the American people an opportunity to succeed, regardless of background. He also understands that the Hispanic community is not monolithic, and that the issues most important to all Americans are: jobs, the economy, health care, education, immigration and national security." 

The group, which advocates on behalf of the country's Latin-owned businesses, bypassed Ted Cruz — the only Latino left in the presidential race.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tapping Fiorina Early, Cruz Echoes Reagan's Gamble]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 06:49:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CRUZ_AP_16118751601761.jpg

Ted Cruz's unconventional decision to tap Carly Fiorina on Wednesday as his running mate echoes Ronald Reagan's gambit heading into the 1976 convention, a history that offers cautionary notes for Cruz.

Reagan finished the primaries as both a beloved conservative and party underdog, trailing incumbent President Gerald Ford by 100 delegates.

On July 27, 1976, a few weeks before the GOP convention, Reagan held a press conference to announce he was picking Richard Schweiker, a liberal Republican from Pennsylvania, to be his running mate.

"The people and the delegates have a right to know, in advance of the convention, who a nominee's vice presidential choice would be," Reagan said, explaining his logic for "departing from tradition" to announce the pick early.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Powerful Testimony Unfolds At Hastert Sentencing]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 06:04:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Hastert+Arrival.png

For seasoned court watchers, attorneys, even veteran prosecutors, the sentencing of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert proved to be powerful and troubling.

"Nothing is more disturbing than having 'serial child molester' and 'Speaker of the House' in the same sentence," Judge Thomas Durkin told a packed but silent audience in his 14th floor courtroom. “Some actions can obliterate a lifetime of good works.”

For two hours, the gut-wrenching testimony unfolded. Two accusers detailed sordid tales of sexual abuse from Hastert’s days as a wrestling coach in Yorkville. His own attorney conceded he could not contest the allegations. Prosecutor Steven Block told the judge that the government regretted they couldn’t hit him with tougher laws.

“Had there been an opportunity to charge the defendant with sexually abusing boys in his care, we would have,” Block said. “His decision last year was designed to keep his dark secrets.”

That decision, to mislead agents investigating massive bank withdrawals to pay off an accuser, eventually led to a person still identified only as “Individual A”, who described sexual abuse at Hastert’s hands when he wrestled for Yorkville High School in the seventies. Eventually, four other alleged victims were discovered.

One, Stephen Reinboldt, died from Aids in 1995. But in court Wednesday, his sister Jolene Burdge stood before the former Speaker.

“I hope I have been your worst nightmare,” she told Hastert, who did not react. “You took his life Mr. Hastert…because you took his innocence and turned it against him.”

Reporters filled the jury box, which went unused because Hastert had entered a guilty plea to a crime called “structuring”. It’s an arcane statute governing massive withdrawals of money. Because of statutes of limitations, he could not be charged with the sex crimes relating to those transactions. But the evidence was presented nonetheless. And it was difficult to hear.

“As a young boy, I wanted to be part of what Coach Hastert had created,” said another accuser, “Individual D”. A near gasp rumbled through the courtroom when he stated his name as Scott Cross. His brother Tom was well known to most reporters in the courtroom, as a former State Representative, and onetime protégé of the Speaker himself.

“Coach Hastert sexually abused me my senior year in high school,” Cross said, choking back tears. “I did not say anything to anyone. Coach Hastert and I never spoke of it.”

Cross said he considered the abuse his darkest secret.

“I wanted you to know the pain he caused me then, and still causes me today,” he told the judge. “It is important to tell the truth—I could no longer remain silent.”

As observers watched Hastert, he showed no emotion. No obvious twinges of pride as his attorney Tom Green described his client’s post-9/11 heroics on Capitol Hill. No apparent shame when Green stated, “Mr. Hastert abused.”

Green concede that his client “made some very poor decisions.” But he begged the judge to consider the total arc of Hastert’s life.

“Dennis Hastert was able to reshape his life into a career of public service and extraordinary accomplishment,” Green said. Then he conceded, that those “decades of accomplishment have been erased.”

Then the time came for Hastert himself to state his case. The clock ticked. Reporters leaned forward. His attorneys helped the former speaker push his walker to a lectern. A prepared statement was unfolded before him.

“I’m deeply ashamed,” Hastert read from the paper. “I’m the only one responsible.”

But even then, he could not bring himself to use the words “sexual abuse”.

“I know I am here because I mistreated some of the athletes I coached,” he said. “The thing I want to do is say I’m sorry.”

But the judge wasn’t buying it, and he interrupted Hastert’s statement.

“Did you sexually abuse Mr. Cross?” he asked.

“I don’t remember doing that,” Hastert said. “I accept his statement.”

“Individual B?” the judge asked.

“Yes,” Hastert admitted.

“Stephen Reinboldt?”

“That’s a different situation,” Hastert said cryptically. He paused to confer with his attorney, before conceding that he could not dispute the comments of Reinboldt’s sister.

“So you did sexually abuse him?” the incredulous judge asked.

“Yes,” Hastert said.

When it came time for him to impose sentence, Durkin spoke for more than 40 minutes. He did nothing to hide his disgust, and clearly demonstrated that the many pleas for mercy had fallen on deaf ears.

“If I’m going to consider the good, I must also consider the bad,” Durkin said, “which is that the defendant is a serial child molester.”

“Your actions were cynical,” he told Hastert. “You abused those who wouldn’t or couldn’t cry out.”

Attorneys had asked for leniency due to Hastert’s failing health and advanced age. The judge said the Bureau of Prisons would offer adequate medical care.

“Your age did not prevent you from committing crimes,” he said. “Your age should not prevent you from being punished.”

In the end, he sentenced Hastert to 15 months in prison, and a $250,000 fine. Reporters frantically sent out the news, thumbs flying on silent keyboards. Hastert’s attorneys made last minute arrangements for their client’s surrender, pending assignment to an appropriate prison.

And then it was over. But not before one last moment of despir from the judge.

“Nothing today gave me pleasure,” he said. “This is a horrible case. I hope I never have to see a case like this ever again.”

Photo Credit: NBC 5]]>
<![CDATA[Get More Census Info for LGBTQ Community: Rep. Grijalva]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 17:35:03 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/RaulGrijalva-AP_82052430668.jpg

Arizona Democratic congressman Raúl Grijalva believes sexual orientation should be included in the Census to strengthen the LGBTQ community's access to resources and legislation, NBC News reported.

Rep. Grijalva and Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) requested the American Community Survey start asking Americans about their sexual orientation and gender identity to create “urgently needed” statistics for the LGBTQ population. 

"In order to make further progress toward understanding the LGBT population (including its economic, racial, and geographic diversity), we strongly believe the Census Bureau should measure ACS respondents' sexual orientation and gender identity," they said in a letter to Census Director John Thompson. 

Grijalva said other categories like marital status are based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Live Blog: Sentencing of Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 14:20:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/227*120/Hastert+April+27.png

Follow Ward Room on Twitter and download the NBC Chicago app for live updates.

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert was sentenced Wednesday to 15 months in prison for breaking federal banking rules in a hush-money scheme attempting to cover up decades of sexual abuse. He was also fined $250,000.

Refresh this post for live updates from the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in Chicago.

1:42 p.m. Hastert's attorney releases a statement on Hastert's behalf following the sentencing: "Mr. Hastert accepts the sentence imposed by the court today. As he made clear in his own words in addressing the court, he takes sole responsibility for this tragic situation and deeply apologizes to all those affected by his actions. He hopes that he now can focus on addressing his health issues and on healing the emotional damage that has been inflicted on his family and friends who have shown unwavering support throughout this trying time."

1:03 p.m. Fardon says his team didn't treat Hastert any differently because of his political history. "There is and was equal justice under the law," Fardon says.

12:59 p.m. Federal guidelines dictated Hastert couldn't be charged with child molestation, Fardon says.

12:57 p.m. Fardon says he wishes Hastert had been "called to the carpet in 1968." "This isn't perfect, but it's what we got."

12:54 p.m. "This day of reckoning would not have come ... history would have told a lie" if not for law enforcement "tenacity," Fardon says.

12:52 p.m. Fardon calls this a "sad and tragic" case. He said "we saw some extraordinary courage" from Cross, who testified about being sexually abused by Hastert. "That was courageous, that was important ... and I am in awe."

12:33 p.m. U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon is expected to make a statement at 12:45 p.m.

12:27 p.m. Hastert leaves the courthouse in a wheelchair, accompanied by federal Marshals. A crowd across the street yells at him as he gets into a black SUV.

12:26 p.m.
National and local reporters and cameras crowd around the entrance of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse for Hastert's departure following his sentencing.

12:24 p.m. Federal protective services arrives to meet Hastert when he leaves the courthouse.

12:06 p.m. Statement from Tom Cross on behalf of the Cross family: "We are very proud of Scott for having the courage to relive this very painful part of his life in order to ensure that justice is done today. We hope his testimony will provide courage and strength to other victims of other cases of abuse to speak out and advocate for themselves. With his testimony concluded, we ask now that you respect Scott’s privacy and that of our family."

12:02 p.m. SNAP releases a statement following Hastert's sentence: "We’re grateful that Dennis Hastert will be jailed. Jailing child molesters, even elderly ones, is the best way to protect kids. Jailing him might also deter others from hiding child sex crimes."

11:56 a.m. Court adjourned. The judge has left the bench, but Hastert and his attorneys remain in the courtroom.

11:55 a.m. Judge Durkin: "I hope I never see a case like this again." Court ended.

11:55 a.m. No surrender date will be set until a Level 4 facility can be determined for Hastert to be imprisoned.

11:53 a.m. No emotion from Dennis Hastert or his attorneys following the 15-month sentence handed down from Judge Durkin.

11:52 a.m. Dennis Hastert sentenced to 15 months in prison and fined $250,000. Hastert must also undergo sex offender treatment.

11:51 a.m. Judge: "It gives me no pleasure to sentence Mr. Hastert. … It's sad for our country."

11:48 a.m. Judge Durkin says Rochester Prison is filled with sex offenders, "so the defendant would be surrounded by inmates with similar backgrounds."

11:47 a.m. Judge Durkin says Hastert's medical needs can be met in prison

11:41 a.m. Judge says Hastert's age (74) will not deter him from sentencing him to prison. "You tried to set up Victim A in your 70s."

11:38 a.m. Judge: "It's hard to look at Mr. Cross, who's in his 50s and know that this happened when he was 17 and he's still damaged."

11:37 a.m. Judge Durkin: "Any sentence I give you today would pale in comparison to what you would face in state court [if charged with sex abuse]."

11:36 a.m. Judge Durkin: "You had choices to make. The criminal conduct here was not inevitable."

11:34 a.m. Judge Durkin: "The obvious motive for your lies is not lost on me."

11:31 a.m. Judge Durkin describes what happened to 'Victim A.' "It was child molestation. It was sexual abuse."

11:30 a.m. Judge Durkin: "Nothing worse than using 'serial child molester' and 'Speaker of the House' in the same sentence."

11:29 a.m. Judge Durkin is now discussing all the letters written on behalf of Hastert. "No question he had done a lot of good for a lot of people," he said.

11:27 a.m. Judge Durkin says he agrees with the letter written by SNAP

11:25 a.m. Judge Durkin: "I believe the actions you took with 'Victim A' were thought-out and desperate."

11:24 a.m. Judge: "He was a victim decades ago and you tried to make him the victim again."

11:23 a.m. Judge Durkin: "Accusing 'Victim A' of extortion was unconscionable."

11:22 a.m. Judge Durkin admonishes Hastert for lying to the FBI and says if he didn't lie, he probably would have gotten probation.

11:21 a.m. Judge: "If you told the truth, I'm not sure we'd here today. ... You took the money out of the bank because you sexually abused a boy."

11:19 a.m. Judge Durkin: "He intentionally lied and misled the FBI."

11:18 a.m. Judge Durkin listened to the tapes. "No question in my mind the defendant knew he was in trouble and didn't want to reveal a dark secret."

11:14 a.m. Judge Durkin: "I've never seen a more obvious and clear cut violation of bank structuring laws."

11:13 a.m. Judge Durkin: "What rational person takes out $1.7 million in cash over four years."

11:12 a.m. Judge Durkin refers to Victim A. "They are victims. Not individuals."

11:09 a.m. Judge Durkin calls Hastert a "serial child molester."

11:03 a.m. Judge Durkin is now talking about the terms of probation. He says he will rule on any possible jail time in a few minutes.

11:02 a.m. When asked by the prosecutor, "So you did sexually abuse [Steve Reinboldt], Hastert says "yes."

11:01 a.m. Asked by the prosecutor if he abused Scott Cross, Hastert says, "I don't remember doing that, but I accept his statement."

11 a.m. Hastert apologizes for what he's put his family through. He apologizes to the court and is ready to accept the sentence imposed on him.

11 a.m. "I want to say sorry to those I've hurt. What I did was wrong and I regret it. They looked up to me and what I did was wrong."

10:59 a.m. "For 11 months, I struggled to come to terms with what happened four decades ago."

10:59 a.m. "I'm ashamed to be standing before you today," Hastert says. "I am the one solely responsible for being here today."

10:58 a.m. Dennis Hastert stands, about to make a statement on his behalf.

10:57 a.m. Defense Attorney Green closes by asking for probation.

10:56 a.m. Green: "I told [Hastert] he needs to revisit the earlier part of his life and understand the origins of his misconduct."

10:55 a.m. Green: "This is one of the most tragic and sad cases I've ever encountered. ... His life will forever be comprised and diminished."

10:54 a.m. Defense Attorney Thomas Green says he hopes Judge Durkin's sentence will not increase the risks to Hastert's health.

10:49 a.m. Green: "In the last 11 months ... all [Hastert's] achievements and good deeds have been removed ... all of it eclipsed by acts that occurred years ago."

10:48 a.m. Green says Hastert was honored by the country, Columbia, for his fight against drugs. But says his proudest achievement is his family.

10:46 a.m. Green is now going through Hastert's resume. "He was by all accounts a remarkable leader who guided this country through difficult times."

10:45 a.m. Defense attorney Thomas Green confirms that Hastert victim Scott Cross' older brother is Rep. Tom Cross.

10:42 a.m. "Mr. Hastert was unable to confront his past," Green said.

10:41 a.m. Dennis Hastert has his hands folded and stares at the ground while his defense attorney appears before Judge Durkin.

10:40 a.m. "When approximately six years ago, a former student confronted him about sex abuse, my client was frightened and he made some poor decisions."

10:39 a.m. "Rarely if ever has there been a sentence or confinement for this kind of structuring," Hastert's defense attorney says.

10:38 a.m. Thomas Green, defense attorney, hopes his "words will be adequate as he (Judge Durkin) decides Hastert's sentence."

10:36 a.m. Block: "Defendant said this would be his most difficult day. ... Their (the victims') most difficult day was in a hotel or locker room decades ago."

10:35 a.m. "Defendant's attempt to quiet 'Individual A' with a payoff shows just how desperately he wanted to keep his dark secret."

10:34 a.m. Block: "Defendant knew he was trying to build a criminal case against 'Individual A' even though 'Individual A' never committed a crime."

10:33 a.m. "He chose the worst possible course to protect his dark secret," Block said.

10:32 a.m. "'Individual A' clearly stated he wanted to protect his identity and would only testify if absolutely necessary," Block said.

10:31 a.m. Prosecutor Steven Block: "The justice comes with the sentence imposed, for the crimes he was never held accountable for."

10:29 a.m. Scott Cross was very emotional during his statement, tearing up at times. When he finished, there was clapping in the courtroom.

10:28 a.m. "Judge Durkin, I want you to know the pain he caused me then, and the pain he's causing me now," Cross said.

10:27 a.m. "This entire experience has been enormously painful for me and my family," Cross said. "It's been a huge personal struggle."

10:26 a.m. Cross: "After this prosecution became public, I told my brother and wife that happened.

10:25 a.m. Cross: "As a 17-year-old boy, I was devastated. I felt alone and embarrassed."

10:24 a.m. Cross: "He pulled down my shorts, grabbed my penis and began to rub me. I was stunned by what he was doing, grabbed my shorts and ran out."

10:23 a.m. "I was alone with Coach Hastert in the locker room. Coach Hastert said I could make weight by giving me a massage. I trusted him."

10:22 a.m. As a senior Cross was the captain of the wrestling team. "As a high school wrestler, I looked up to Hastert. He was a key figure in my life."

10:21 a.m. Individual D identifies himself as Scott Cross. Cross is the brother of State Rep. Tom Cross. He is 53 years old, married with two kids. He lives in the Chicago area.

10:20 a.m. "Individual D" begins testifying

10:19 a.m. "He stands here today, free and at peace. Our victory is this man is finally being brought to justice," Burdge says.

10:18 a.m. "He betrayed, ashamed and embarrassed. You were supposed to keep him safe. Not violate him. You took his innocence and turned it against him"

10:16 a.m. "I hope I've been your worst nightmare," Burdge said. "What you did wasn't misconduct. It was sexual abuse of a minor."

10:15 a.m. "I would confront him face to face and make him accountable Stand here 20 years later with truth on my side," Burdge says.

10:12 a.m. Jolene Burdge, the sister of an alleged victim, begins testifying, reading a letter written by her brother Stephen Reinholdt. "He spent his last years alone, waiting to die," she said.

10:10 a.m. Prosecutor Steven Block says there will be two people testifying. Jolene Burdge and "Individual D."

10:08 a.m. Judge Durkin says the pre-sentence memorandum was well written. Hastert says he's read all the documents.

10:02 a.m.
Dennis Hastert is wheeled into the courtroom. A walker is placed next to him.

9:46 a.m. Media just allowed in the overflow room to begin covering the sentencing. Lines are still forming outside the main courtroom

7:10 a.m. Hastert arrives to Chicago's Dirksen Federal Courthouse ahead of his scheduled 10 a.m. sentencing hearing. He was seen getting out of a large SUV before being wheeled into the building.

Judge Durkin: "I've never seen a more obvious and clear cut violation of bank structuring laws" #hastert

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<![CDATA[Ex-House Speaker Hastert Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 06:07:14 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Hastert+Update.png

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert was sentenced Wednesday to 15 months in prison for breaking federal banking rules in a hush-money scheme attempting to cover up decades of sexual abuse.

He was also fined $250,000, Judge Thomas Durkin ruled, saying there's nothing worse than using "serial child molester" and "Speaker of the House" in the same sentence.

"It gives me no pleasure to sentence Mr. Hastert," Durkin said. "It's sad for our country."

Hastert faced up to five years behind bars for the banking charges, which were but one part of the numerous allegations of sexual misconduct against him. 

In court Wednesday, he apologized for his actions and admitted to the sexual abuse for the first time.  

"I want to say sorry to those I've hurt," Hastert said in court moments before learning his fate. "What I did was wrong and I regret it. They looked up to me and what I did was wrong."

Among those testifying at Wednesday's hearing was Scott Cross, previously identified as "Individual D," the brother of former State Rep. Tom Cross. Cross claimed Hastert abused him when he was 17 years old and captain of the wrestling team Hastert coached.

"I was alone with Coach Hastert in the locker room. Coach Hastert said I could make weight by giving me a massage. I trusted him," he said. "He pulled down my shorts, grabbed my penis and began to rub me. I was stunned by what he was doing, grabbed my shorts and ran out."

When Cross finished his statement, applause erupted in the courtroom.

Also testifying in court Wednesday was Jolene Burdge, the sister of another of Hastert's victims, Steven Reinboldt.

"I hope I've been your worst nightmare," Burdge said. "What you did wasn't misconduct. It was sexual abuse of a minor."

Hastert admitted in court to sexually abusing Reinboldt. He added that while he does not recall abusing Cross, he "accepts his statement" and does not deny the allegations.

Hastert pleaded guilty last year to a crime known as "structuring," an effort to mask payments to an unnamed individual he had wronged decades ago when he was a wrestling coach at Yorkville High.

Prosecutors have claimed Hastert agreed to pay the accuser more than $3 million to conceal allegations Hastert molested him in a motel room when he was 14 years old. That accuser has since filed suit against Hastert for breach of contract, claiming he failed to finish making the agreed upon payments.

Authorities allege Hastert tried to mislead the FBI by instead accusing the victim of extortion.

"He was a victim decades ago and you tried to make him the victim again," Durkin said, adding that if Hastert had told the truth "he probably would have gotten probation."

In total, at least four former students have come forward alleging the now 74-year-old molested them when he was a teacher and coach. 

Attorneys for Hastert pleaded for mercy, saying Hastert has been punished enough through failing health and his own guilt and humiliation. Soon after his guilty pleas last October, the former speaker was hospitalized with a series of medical problems, including sepsis and a small stroke.

His attorneys asked that Hastert be spared time behind bars, and instead receive probation. 

"This is one of the most tragic and sad cases I've ever encountered," said attorney Thomas Green. "His life will forever be comprised and diminished."

Still, Durkin said Hastert's age would not deter him from sentencing the 74-year-old to prison and said his medical needs can be met in prison.

"I hope I never see a case like this again," Durkin said.

Hastert's attorney said in a statement that Hastert "accepts the sentence imposed by the court today."

"As he made clear in his own words in addressing the court, he takes sole responsibility for this tragic situation and deeply apologizes to all those affected by his actions," the statement read. "He hopes that he now can focus on addressing his health issues and on healing the emotional damage that has been inflicted on his family and friends who have shown unwavering support throughout this trying time."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trump: Clinton Playing Woman Card]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 12:38:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/TRUMP_AP_16118114842811.jpg

Coming off a huge win on Tuesday night, Donald Trump said he has all but clinched the Republican nomination, NBC News reported. 

"I consider myself the presumptive nominee, absolutely," Trump said at a press conference after winning all five state primaries held on Tuesday by crushing margins.

Turning to the general election, he predicted he would "beat Hillary [Clinton] so easily" and even compete for deep blue states like New York, despite trailing Clinton nationally in every recent poll, often by wide margins.

"The only card she has is the woman's card," Trump said. "If Hillary Clinton were a man I don't think she'd get five percent of the vote."

Clinton said Tuesday night that "if fighting for women's health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the 'woman card,' then deal me in."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Emanuel Touts Record Tourism Numbers for 2015]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 16:41:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rahm+defense.jpg

Mayor Emanuel announced Tuesday that Chicago broke tourism records in 2015. For the first time in the city’s history, 50 million domestic tourists visited Chicago in a single year.

According to the mayor’s office, the total number of visitors to the city, including international travelers, is set to exceed 52 million for the year.

In addition to this, the city’s tourism industry reportedly supported an estimated 139,800 jobs. The industry added 15,000 jobs since 2010 and 3,800 new jobs in 2015.

“The more visitors we attract, the more jobs we support for residents all throughout the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said in a statement. “While I am proud of the 15,000 jobs that our tourism industry has created in the past five years alone, I know we can do even better. With the help of marquee events like this week’s NFL Draft, we will build on this progress and continue generating jobs in neighborhoods throughout Chicago.”

The NFL received large discounts to hold their 2015 and 2016 drafts in Grant Park, according to DNAinfo. This year, the league will pay $103,000 to rent the space, although the Chicago Park District values the three-day rental at roughly $3.2 million dollars.

City officials argue that the event draws tourists and revenue to the city. This year’s draft is set to kick off on Thursday night. Last week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told the Chicago Sun-Times that it's "very likely" the league's draft will leave Chicago in 2017.

Nevertheless, Chicago is on track to reach Emanuel’s goal of having 55 million annual visitors to the city by 2020.

“We are firmly on target to reach Mayor Emanuel’s goal of 55 million visitors by 2020,” Choose Chicago Interim CEO Marc Anderson said in a statement. “This record-breaking year was achieved while an additional 529,000 rooms were added to the market in 2015.”

Visitors’ direct spending reached an estimated $14.9 billion in 2015. This is a 34 percent increase from 2010. Leisure and business visitation both grew in the city in 2015.

All told, tourism generated $935 million in tax revenue, $2.2 billion in hotel revenue and $124.1 million in hotel tax revenue for the year.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Primary Day: Voters in 5 States Cast Ballots]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 20:57:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/election-27-GettyImages-524665434.jpg Democratic and Republican primary voters in five Northeastern states went to the polls on Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hillary Clinton Visits Indiana Manufacturing Plants]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 16:56:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/HillaryClinton-AP_387953173053.jpg

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton toured a pair of manufacturing plants in Indiana Tuesday, a week ahead of the state’s May 3 primary.

During her tour of Munster Steel in Hammond, Clinton called for "a renaissance in manufacturing" and pledged her commitment to Indiana’s steel industry.

"Steel is crucial to our manufactuting base," Clinton said. "I will not let this vital industry disappear."

Clinton faulted the Republican-controlled Indiana legislature for passing a right-to-work law and repealing the common construction wage, calling the move a "total violation of economics 101."

During her speech, Clinton also touched on layoffs and outsourcing in Indiana manufacturing.

Clinton admonished Carrier Corp. and UTEC for shifting manufacturing operations from Indiana to Mexico earlier this year, costing the state 2,100 jobs. The companies specialize in heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Clinton blamed trade agreements for the plant closures.

The former Secretary of State also discussed China’s trade abuses, like unloading cheap steel on the global market.

"China and other countries hace been dumping artificially cheap steel in our markets to gain advantage," she said.

If elected, Clinton has pledged to impose consequences if China continues to unload cheap products into the American marketplace.

The Democratic front-runner also announced a plan to invest $10 billion into a Renaissance Tax Credit for areas hit hard by job loss.

"We have to bring back middle class jobs and wages," Clinton said.

In the evening, Clinton will tour the AM General Plant in Mishawaka to lay out her “Make it in America” plan. The $10 billion plan looks to build on Clinton’s work as a New York senator.

“She stood up to China when they tried to put tariffs on New York’s exports,” Clinton’s campaign site reads. “In communities across the state, from Buffalo to Rochester to Albany, Hillary brought together government at every level, workers, and businesses large and small to join and invest in good-paying jobs and production in the state.”

The initiative will be paid for using money from Clinton’s “clawback” proposal which would revoke tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs to China.

Clinton scored a pivotal primary win in New York last week. She currently holds a strong delegate lead over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Clinton holds 1,446 pledged delegates, while Sanders holds 1,202.

The two will also face-off in five Tuesday primaries: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. All told, 462 delegates are on the line Tuesday. In addition to this, 92 pledged delegates will be on the line next week in Indiana.

A watch party will be held at Reverie in River North for Tuesday’s returns. The party will be attended by City Clerk Susana A. Mendoza, state Sen. Heather Steans, Ald. James Cappelman and Ald. Raymond Lopez, among others.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Bernie Sanders Floats Elizabeth Warren's Name for VP]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 09:53:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Sanders-Warren.jpg

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said a female vice president would be a "great idea" and mentioned Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren as an example of a woman qualified to hold the office.

The senior senator from Vermont discussed the possibility on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" ahead of Tuesday's primary elections in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Rhode Island.

"I think the women of this country — the people of this country — understand that it would be a great idea to have a woman as vice president," Sanders said. "It's something I would give very, very serious thought to."

When asked if any women were particularly well equipped to serve as vice president, Sanders scoffed.

"Pfft, are there any women? Yes, there are many women who would be qualified for that job," he asserted.

The senator said it was "a little bit early to be speculating" about a potential running mate, but named Warren as an example when pressed. He did not mention rival Hillary Clinton.

"Elizabeth Warren, I think, has been a real champion of standing up for working families, taking on Wall Street," he said. "There are fantastic women who have been active in all kind of fights who I think would make great vice presidential candidates."

Warren, whose name has also been floated as a possible pick for an all-female ticket with Clinton, has not endorsed a candidate but said she will likely make her choice known before the July convention.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Clinton: Sandy Hook a Focal Point]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 17:03:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Hillary+Clinton+1200.jpg

In her only interview with Connecticut media on Monday, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton told NBC Connecticut about her recent rhetoric about guns and how the Sandy Hook tragedy has been a focal point of her campaign.

Clinton, who held a campaign rally at the University of Bridgeport over the weekend, said she hasn’t politicized the tragedy, even with a campaign ad featuring the daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal Dawn Hochsprung who was killed that day.

"I think we have a real problem with guns in America. Thirty-three thousand people per year are killed by guns and politics, our government, our democracy, is supposed to be about solving problems," Clinton said backstage. "We need universal background checks. We need to end the universal immunity that has been given to the gunmakers themselves. We have to do more on mental health. We have to do more on education about the dangers of guns, so I think it's an appropriate and necessary topic to be discussing in this campaign."

That final comment was a nod to the lawsuit that families of Sandy Hook victims filed against the manufacturer and seller of the weapons used in the December 2012 massacre. A judge recently ruled the suit could move forward.

Clinton spoke several days ago during a campaign stop in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, about how, as a child, she would spend time at a family cabin on Lake Winola. She said that’s where she learned to use a gun.

NBC Connecticut political reporter Max Reiss asked Clinton if she’s used a weapon recently.

"Well, not recently; I did go hunting when I lived in Arkansas. I haven't really had much chance to do it," she said. "I've done skeet shooting, but I wanted to make the point that I am not against responsible people having guns."

Clinton went on to say she believes in the Second Amendment and policies that can be good for both lawful gun owners and public safety.

"There is no contradiction between having safe gun policies that save lives and respecting Second Amendment rights," Clinton said.

On the issue of possible Supreme Court nominees, Clinton said some decisions by the high court have been "gifts to the gun lobby" and she would want a justice who could work to change those constitutional interpretations.

Additionally, Clinton said overturning Citizens United, the case that established that corporations could give unlimited sums to political campaign, would be a priority.

"I would certainly look for people who understood that Citizens United was one of the worst decisions the court has ever made," she said.

Connecticut’s economy has struggled since the 2008 recession and wage growth has remained essentially flat. Mentioning some of Connecticut’s largest cities, Clinton said her economic policies could provide some growth.

"I want to zero in [on] those places like Bridgeport and Waterbury that need those extra boosts and I will have those economics and jobs policy to do that. I will have an infrastructure policy and advanced manufacturing policy, a clean renewable energy policy, a small business policy and I want to do everything I can, working with the people in communities like Bridgeport and Waterbury to get back in the economic hunt to be able to provide more jobs that are going to provide good livings," she said.

The former secretary of state knows she will have to win over supporters of challenger Bernie Sanders, as well as independents, in the event she becomes the Democratic nominee. Clinton hopes her connections to the state as a student at Yale will play into voters’ decisions.

"I went to law school with Sen. [Richard] Blumenthal, so I've obviously known him for a very long time. Many other people in politics, in business and academia, and all kinds of civic groups so I do want people to know that I've spent a lot of time in Connecticut, driving around, seeing this beautiful state, and I want to be a partner to move the country forward," she said.

Clinton said her supporters in 2008 were polled as saying nearly half would not support then-Sen. Barack Obama in a general election but eventaully did.

Clinton hopes voters not only turn out for her Tuesday, but also that those who don’t vote for her examine how their values may line up with hers.

"I think the vast majority of my opponent's supporters are going to look at who the two nominees are and I'm very confident that we will have their support and we will work hard for it because I want people who don't support me now, not just people supporting my opponent in a Democratic primary but Republicans and Independents to really take a look at my record," Clinton said.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Candidates Descend on Philly Region]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 23:23:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Candidates-Collage.jpg

With dozens of delegates up for grabs for both parties, presidential hopefuls descended on the Philadelphia region Monday before voters head to the polls in Pennsylvania and Delaware on Tuesday.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump, Republican challenger John Kasich,  Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders all planned to hold public events in the area Monday, with GOP challenger Ted Cruz the only one not in the Keystone State Monday.

Clinton began her day with a rally at World Café Live at the Queen along N Market Street in downtown Wilmington, Delaware at 11:15 a.m. She later spoke in the courtyard of Philadelphia City Hall for a get out the vote event at 7:15 p.m.  

Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea Clinton, will also be in the area canvassing with supporters in Lansdowne, West Chester and Ambler during the day.

Bernie Sanders, who is trying to chip away at Clinton’s lead, started his day with a midday rally in Pittsburgh. He visited Philly for an 8 p.m. get out the vote rally at Drexel University’s Daskalakis Athletic Center along Market Street.

Clinton and Sanders also held back-to-back town halls from the National Constitution Center in Philly Monday night. MSNBC aired Sanders' town hall at 8 p.m. while the Clinton event followed at 9 p.m.

On the Republican side, Trump held a rally at West Chester University’s Hollinger Field House at 4 p.m. before heading up to the Mohegan Sun Area at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre for a 7 p.m. rally.

Republican hopeful John Kasich went more low-key as he stopped by the Penrose Diver along Penrose Avenue in South Philadelphia Monday morning before a town hall event Monday night at 7 in McKees Rocks in western Pennsylvania.

The presidential primaries headline a slew of state and local races in Tuesday’s primary race.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>