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As COVID-19 vaccine disbursement has begun, the question arises of who deserves the first doses. While many agree that priority should go towards the most vulnerable, including the elderly and health-care workers, one group that likely was nowhere near the top of anyone’s list has jumped to the front of the line: politicians.

Public officials were granted priority, and several elected officials made use of their spot in line. While few would begrudge the 80-year-old House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or 78-year-old Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from being vaccinated, it was far more shocking when the 31-year-old Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez posted images of her receiving the shot on Instagram, before many health-care workers or nursing home residents had a chance at protection.

Several politicians share this frustration, objecting to the preferential treatment of elected officials and declaring their intent to refuse vaccination until far more vulnerable Americans can be protected. Rep. Jeff Van Drew stated, “I believe that seniors, healthcare professionals and frontline workers should receive the vaccination first. I will be receiving my vaccination as soon as the most vulnerable have already received theirs.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard turned her refusal into a call of action, stating, “As members of Congress, if you are healthy, if you are under the age of 65, join me in refusing to get the vaccine at least until the seniors and elderly Americans are able to do so.”

Gabbard told Fox News her decision was inspired by the many Americans like her 65-year-old aunt, who has underlying health conditions that place her at greater danger should she catch the virus. “This is really a matter of life and death for them.”

Sen. Rand Paul argued that the antibodies from his past case of coronavirus ought to place him farther back in line. He tweeted, “It is inappropriate for me – who has already gotten the virus/has immunity – to get in front of elderly/healthcare workers.” He further took aim at Ocasio-Cortez for her well-publicized video of receiving the vaccine. Paul declared that those who are young and healthy “should be among last, not first.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar also spoke out against her fellow squad member’s choice to get the shot before many far-more vulnerable Americans. Omar took to Twitter, declaring that members of Congress jumping the line is “shameful,” as politicians are “not more important then [sic] frontline workers, teachers etc. who are making sacrifices everyday.”

Rep.-elect Nancy Mace has not yet arrived in Congress, yet she is already doing better at serving the American people than many of her future colleagues. Like Paul, Mace has recovered from coronavirus, and therefore understands its severity. It is with this awareness, she says, that she seeks to protect “the most vulnerable.”

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She tweeted, “Our frontline workers, our elderly, those with underlying conditions, those who are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, all of those should receive the vaccine before Congress. I will get in line for mine when those with much greater health needs, get theirs.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis would rather his parents and grandparents have access to the vaccine than himself. In his state, he opened early vaccine distribution to any resident over the age of 65, but will not take it himself before the elderly population gets full access. He said, “I’m an elected official, but whoop-dee-doo, at the end of the day let’s focus where the risk is.”

Rep. Ken Buck’s rejection of the vaccine pairs his concern for the side effects with a prioritization of the vulnerable population taking priority over “healthy persons” such as himself. While he praised the vaccine as a “miracle,” he told Fox News that he would not be taking it himself, because “I’m an American. I have the freedom to decide if I’m going to take a vaccine or not.”

Rep. Brian Mast took his criticism further than his fellow objectors, tweeting that “Being for the people must always mean putting the people before ourselves, which is why every single American should be able to access the coronavirus vaccine before any Member of Congress.”

He condemned Congress’s taking special treatment at the expense of those who they are meant to represent, stating, “the mere suggestion that Members of Congress are in any way more important than the very people who gave us the privilege of serving in Congress is appalling.”

Paulina Enck is an intern at the Federalist and current student at Georgetown University in the School of Foreign Service. Follow her on Twitter at @itspaulinaenck



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Convicted fundraiser who tried to work his way into Biden’s inner circle sentenced to prison

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Amajor Democratic bundler, who raised large sums for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and consorted with Joe Biden, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for what prosecutors said was a “mercenary” political influence scheme.

Imaad Zuberi, a Californian businessman was sentenced Thursday for schemes to funnel foreign money into U.S. political campaigns, then take millions of dollars for himself.

The Los Angeles Times reported that U.S. Assistant Attorney Daniel J. O’Brien said Zuberi was “purely a mercenary, funneling money to whomever he believed would do his bidding.”

Among the many unsealed court records, Zuberi was seen photographed with Joe Biden and Barack Obama when they were Vice President and President. He was also pictured with former President Bill Clinton and former presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. He took pictures with former Republican Rep. Paul Ryan when he was speaker of the House as well as the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Also included in the Times report was a hacked email chain released on WikiLeaks. Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook messaged colleagues saying, “I’m OK taking the money and dealing with any attacks.” Jennifer Palmieri responded saying, “Take the money!”

He also attended Hillary Clinton’s election night party in New York City in 2016 as well as serving as a co-chair of The Trump Presidential Inauguration Committee.

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Zuberi made more than $950,000 in unlawful donations to the political committees of Obama, Clinton, McCain and others. Zuberi’s activities extended as far as a recent attempt to work his way into the Biden circle, according to Politico.  

In addition to the money he made, Zuberi also raised $270,000 for Hillary Clinton and $1.3 million for President Obama.

Zuberi, 50, pleaded guilty to a “three-count information charging with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)” for making false statements on a FARA filing as well as tax evasion and illegal contributions to political campaigns. He also pleaded guilty in a separate case earlier in June 2020 to a count of obstruction of justice.

“Zuberi turned acting as an unregistered foreign agent into a business enterprise,” Assistant Attorney General for National Secretary John C. Demers said in a Department of Justice news release.

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Cruz responds to pictures of him on Mexico flight, with Texas struggling from deadly winter storm

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Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz confirmed Thursday that he flew earlier this week to Mexico with family members, following the emergence of pictures appearing to show him in an airplane cabin and at a check-in counter, as fellow residents to recover from a deadly winter storm.

Cruz said in a statement that he accompanied his daughters on a flight Wednesday night to Mexico because they had the week off with school canceled.

“Wanting to be a good dad,” said Cruz, who also stated he is returning to Texas on Thursday afternoon.

The storms has been connected to at least seven deaths in Texas and knocked out power to as many as 2.5 million residents. The number of residents without electricity as of Thursday morning was down to less than 1 million, officials said.  

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“My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas,” Cruz also said. “We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm.”

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South Carolina House passes bill that would prohibit most abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected

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The South Carolina House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 79-35 to pass legislation that would prohibit most abortions. 

The bill must pass through a procedural vote in the House on Thursday prior to heading to GOP Gov. Henry McMaster who has indicated that he will sign it, according to the Associated Press. Two Republicans voted against the legislation while two Democrats voted for it. The state Senate passed the measure last month. 

The bill requires doctors to carry out an ultrasound to check for a fetal heartbeat and if a heartbeat is identified an abortion can only be performed in certain circumstances.

The legislation would not penalize a woman for obtaining an unlawful abortion, though the individual responsible for performing the abortion could face consequences.

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The outlet reported that other states have approved similar or even more stringent abortion prohibitions which could be implemented if the Supreme Court throws out the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. All of the other states’ abortion bans are currently entangled by court challenges and if the South Carolina bill is approved it will likely face litigation that prevents it from going into effect, according to the AP.

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