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Congress in Capitol

Adam Kinzinger Becomes First GOP Member To Call For Matt Gaetz’s Resignation 

Illinois Representative Adam Kinzingler became the first congressional Republican to call on Florida Representative Matt Gaetz to resign and face a federal investigation into the sex trafficking allegations made against him. 

Kinzinger simply tweeted this week that “Matt Gaetz needs to resign” along with a link to a Daily Beast article that explained the allegations against Gaetz; many other major news outlets are still working to confirm the allegations and their source. 

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This isn’t Kinzingler’s first time speaking out against his own party either. During the end of 2020 especially, he constantly condemned former president Donald Trump and his administration for heavily pushing baseless claims of election fraud that aimed to attack the foundation of America’s democracy. 

No official charges have been made against Gaetz, and he has since denied all allegations made against him. Hours after the investigation and allegations were made public Gaetz was on Fox News denying any wrongdoing and claimed he was the victim of an “elaborate extortion scheme.” 

Gaetz then went on to write an op-ed piece declaring that he would “absolutely not be resigning,” and discussed how his campaign sent out fundraising pleas which blamed the media for trying to take him down. Very little GOP allies have spoken out against, or with, Gaetz, most are keeping quiet as the possibility of a federal investigation still lingers. 

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Individuals working on the potential investigation told the media that “federal investigators are seeking to determine whether Gaetz was provided travel and women in exchange for political favors as part of a broader probe. The investigation includes scrutiny of a trip to the Bahamas and whether women were paid to travel for sex with the Florida Republican congressman and others, a potential federal crime,” according to the sources. 

CNN also has previously reported on investigators looking into allegations that Gaetz had sex with an underage girl who was 17 at the time, and with other women who “provided drugs and money in violation of sex trafficking and prostitution laws.”

CBS News, which first reported on the investigation, was told by a spokeswoman: “Rep. Gaetz has never paid for sex, nor has he had sex with an underage girl. What began with blaring headlines about ‘sex trafficking’ has now turned into a general fishing exercise about vacations and consensual relationships with adults.”

Investigators are currently considering Gaetz’s connections to several associates and other government leaders in Florida who may have benefited politically from the congressman in exchange for things like campaign donations, travel, and escorts. Gatz’s lawyers have declined to comment.

Football on grass

Lawyer Of Deshaun Watson’s Accusers Speaks Out Against ‘Hush Money’ Claims 

Tony Buzbee is the lawyer representing the women who accused Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct. Buzbee recently fired back at the NFL player’s attorney who recently claimed that Ashley Solis, one of the accusers, demanded “hush money” before filing a civil lawsuit against Watson. Buzbee posted an email that he wrote to Scott Gaffield, the General Counsel at the Athletes First agency in California, onto his Instagram to express his distaste in these claims. 

“The latest and ever-changing Watson defense is that our legal team is somehow compromised because we tried to settle or resolve issues with one client before putting all of these women through the current media circus we knew would result, because the alleged perpetrator is a famous quarterback. I can and have confirmed we tried to resolve these issues without a lawsuit. That fact was public knowledge almost three weeks ago. We attempted to settle without fanfare or press,” Buzbee wrote.

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“In fact, I’ve attached the last email we had with the Watson team before we filed the first lawsuit. This email was sent when we represented only one victim, before we represented what is now 23 women, alleging the same thing.”

Buzbee continued on to discuss how “the current back and forth reporting about the ego of the lawyers involved is not appropriate, or helpful. These cases are about those who were subject to the conduct alleged. Please review the video of Ashley Solis today, from the press conference; she had the courage to go in front of national media to tell her story. STRONG!! Now, that’s a hero! That’s who we should be talking about!”

The excerpts above are also taken from an email sent from Buzbee to Gaffield on February 19th, 2021. The first sexual misconduct claim against Watson surfaced on March 16th, nearly one month after. 

“We made a legit demand. You rejected it. We won’t be making another or bid against ourselves. We also won’t be having an extended dialogue about why you think your client did nothing wrong or how you want this to be a ‘learning’ experience for your ‘high-profile athlete,’ as you refer to him. This is Houston, Texas. Perhaps you should find him a lawyer here so you can apprise both you and your client of the landscape here and who you are dealing with. Talk soon.”

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Solis revealed herself as one of the Jane Does making a claim against Watson in a press conference this week, in which she claimed that Watson exposed himself during a massage session back in March 2020. Rusty Hardin, Watson’s attorney, claims he has emails to prove Solis was looking to get money out of Watson. 

Buzbee currently represents nearly two dozen women who have come out against Watson, however, Gaffield responded to the email by claiming that the NFL “doesn’t believe that the alleged facts show that Deshaun did anything wrong. We believed then – and fully believe now- that Deshaun learned a lesson about putting himself in this type of situation by interacting with people he does not know.”

“As the emails show, we were willing to continue discussions on Deshaun’s behalf to explore ways to prevent a lawsuit and a public spectacle. But Mr. Buzbee informed us that he was unwilling to do so. We expect that this matter will be resolved in court.”

Watson is currently not facing any criminal charges, but Houston police have launched an investigation into the allegations after another complaint was filed this Friday.

The White House Podium

Executive Order From Biden Could Improve How US Colleges Handle Sexual Misconduct

President Joe Biden is potentially going to improve on a Trump Administration policy that weakened how American colleges and universities that receive federal funding handle cases of sexual misconduct and assault accusations on campus, according to administration officials. 

Biden is projected to sign an executive order this Monday that would direct the Department of Education to review certain changes to policies that were implemented by former president Donald Trump. These policies include Title IX which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded institutions. 

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While Biden was campaigning he had a major focus on gender equality, and a big piece of that was a commitment to do better at protecting the young women of America who are constantly threatened at some of the nation’s most prestigious universities. He promised to strengthen Title IX if he won and “sign a second executive order formally establishing the White House Gender Policy Council,” according to two administration officials.

Biden had the plans to create the council before he even took office as well. The order will direct the DOE to review Title IX, and potentially shift how colleges handle allegations of sexual misconduct/assault in the future. 

Back in 2018 Betsy DeVos, Trump’s education secretary, rescinded an Obama-era policy that made it standard for cases regarding sexual assault to require “preponderance of evidence,” and instead required “clear and convincing evidence” to make an allegation valid. Essentially, colleges and universities needed clear cut evidence that an assault occurred to actually do anything about it. These changes that were enforced by DeVos allowed colleges and universities to get away with ignoring the hundreds of allegations that appear on their campuses every year. 

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“The DeVos changes reduced the liability of colleges and universities for investigating sexual misconduct claims and bolstered the due process rights of the accused, including the right to cross-examine their accusers through a third-party advocate at campus hearings,” according to the Associative Press.

With the DOE now expected to review these policies, it’s expected that Biden is intending to make America’s colleges and universities a much safer place for students, and giving them the security of knowing that should something happen to them, they’ll have all the resources, information, and support they need to make sure they remain safe and the right parties are punished appropriately. 

The White House Gender Policy Council is a resurrection of the White House Council on Women and Girls, which was an Obama-era council that worked to combat issues specifically related to women’s rights. That council was disbanded under Trump, and Biden’s resurrection of it with a new name aims to “acknowledge that inequities can affect people of all genders, however, the council will primarily focus on issues facing women and girls due to the disproportionate barriers they face,” an official claimed. 

According to White House officials, “the new council is tasked with helping push gender equity on the administration’s domestic and foreign policy efforts. Some of the issues the council will focus on include combating sexual harassment, addressing structural barriers to women’s participation in the workforce, decreasing gender wage and wealth gaps, addressing caregiving issues that have disproportionately impacted women and responding to gender-based violence.”

Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox Under Fire For Multiple Claims Of Racism And Sexual Abuse

Former Major League Baseball All-star Torii Hunter recently made a public statement claiming to be called the N-word “a hundred times” anytime he played at Fenway Park in Boston. Hunter stated that the city of Boston in general has a major racism problem, but he also received a massive amount of racially charged hate from within the industry as well. 

The Red Sox were quick to release a statement backing up Hunter’s claims and stated that they promised to fight racism from the inside. The Red Sox also added that there have been at least seven incidents cited within the past year alone that involved fans using racial slurs against players or rival fans. 

“Torii Hunter’s experience is real. And it’s not only players. It happens to the dedicated Black employees who work for us on game days. As we identify how we can do better, please know we are listening.”

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However, many individuals were quick to point out that the Boston Red Sox specifically have a long history of hearing claims of misconduct from black people working for them to no avail. The biggest example being the fact that there are more than a dozen black men who have made multiple claims over the past several years that they were sexually abused by former Red Sox clubhouse manager Donald Fitzpatrick. 

Fitzpatrick died back in 2005, but before that pleaded guilty to criminal charges of attempted sexual battery in 2002. During the trial Fitzpatrick admitted to using Red Sox memorabilia to lure young, black clubhouse workers into hidden areas of the training facility where he would then abuse them. Since 2002 a large number of men stepped forward to not only show their support for the victims, but allege that they were abused by Fitzpatrick as well. Many of the claims, however, dated all the way back to the 80’s and 90’s, making it difficult to bring those charges to trial. 

One of the largest controversies that came from that case regarded how many members of the team/working closely with the team knew about the alleged abuse, and how many worked to cover it up. Gerald Armstrong, 65, has been adamant that he believes multiple individuals not only knew about it, but let it happen continuously; “You can’t tell me that you can have 30 or 40 guys traveling around with him and observing his behavior and not know what he was doing,” Armstrong claimed. 

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Now, there’s been a large call-to-action placed on the city of Boston and the Red Sox to not make the same mistakes they made in the early 2000’s, and actually work to make systemic change within the type of individuals allowed to work for/around players and other black employees. 

The Red Sox in general have a fairly racist history as well, being the last team in the MLB to integrate black players back in 1959. Just two years ago the team was finally able to remove Tom Yawkey’s name from the street that runs alongside Fenway Park; Yawkey is the former Sox owner who made the decisions when it came to integrating the team. 

Separating from the racist and abusive past will be difficult for the Red Sox, however, Armstrong and Hunter believe that being so public about this misconduct during a time where America is reckoning itself for its multitude of racist systems, will be inspiring. 

“I think a lot of black men have been molested and for cultural reasons they just don’t come forward to deal with it. And if you don’t deal with it, you’re looking at a lot of emotional problems.”

Armstrong is encouraging all black people, and specifically men who were victims of abuse themselves, to take ownership of their lives and work to overcome that shame and embarrassment that predators like Fitzpatrick instill in them. 

Award

Grammys CEO Alleges Sexual Misconduct And Corruption In Recording Academy

Just five days before the biggest night in music, Chief Executive and President of the Recording Academy, Deborah Dugan, has not only been suspended on allegations of misconduct, but has filed her own 44 page legal complaint against the Academy itself in response. 

The Recording Academy is obviously responsible for organizing the Grammy Awards every year. Award season seems to always be rooted in controversy, favoritism, and political rhetoric, and typically, most of the heat is directed towards the Academy itself, and while that’s also the case in this situation, there’s never been an internalized issue to this magnitude so close to the show date itself. 

In her legal complaint, Dugan made multiple allegations of voting corruption within the Academy and how it chooses the winners yearly. However, this piece of information is being slightly overlooked by the much more serious accusation against former Chief Executive of the Grammys, Neil Portnow. Portnow was Dugan’s predecessor from 2002 to 2019, and the reason he was removed from the position has everything to do with the allegation made against him. 

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Recording Academy president and CEO Deborah Dugan

“Ms Dugan was hauled into a conference room and told – for the very first time – that a foreign recording artist (and member of the academy) had accused Mr Portnow of raping her following a performance that she gave at Carnegie Hall. The news was presented to Ms Dugan as though the board had just learned of the allegation. In reality, they were well aware of the allegation at the time Ms Dugan agreed to take on the CEO position, but never told her,” according to the legal complaint filed by Dugan’s team.

Further into the complaint Dugan also claims that chairman of the Academy, John Poppo, later pressured her into “rehiring Portnow as a consultant with a $750,000 salary.” This legal issue, as you can likely tell, has been a constant tennis match of allegations against each other, less than a week before the Grammys nonetheless. 

The academy released a response to Dugan’s complaint claiming that it was “peculiar” she decided to file a lawsuit a week after her suspension following her own allegations of misconduct. In the allegations against Dugan, members of the academy, including the current interim chief, claimed she created a “toxic and intolerable” environment for her employees and was “abusive and a bully” to everyone under her. The Academy also claimed that Dugan demanded a “severance” of $22 million for her resignation, a claim she has since refuted. 

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To make a basic timeline of events so far: while Dugan was acting Chief Executive, she filed a complaint with her higher-ups regarding voting corruption within the Academy, to which they responded with a multi-million dollar offer for Dugan to drop everything and resign. When she refused their offer, they put her on leave and the allegations against Dugan were filed. Once legal action against Dugan was taken, she took it upon herself to write a 44 page legal complaint with her team in which she outlines all of this, her original complaint with the Academy, and newer accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct within the Academy, in particular the accusation of rape against Neil Portnow. 

Specifically, Dugan’s complaint claims that “the Grammy’s board has decided to shroud the process in secrecy, and ultimately controls, in large part, who is nominated [and] manipulates the nominations process to ensure that certain songs or albums are nominated when the producer of the Grammys [Ken Ehrlich] wants a particular song performed on the show.”

Dugan’s allegations are just another part of a long list of complaints that many viewers, artists, producers, etc. all have with the Grammys. Many artists in the past have called out the Academy for white washing the awards, and have since boycotted attending. The 2020 Grammy awards are this Sunday, January 26th, and will be hosted by Alicia Keys for the second year in a row. It will be interesting to see how much of this behind the scenes legal drama will make its way to all of our screens.