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AG candidate on Obama: He’s got a good jump shot

Pat Miles, a Democrat running for Michigan attorney general, worked as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan under former President Barack Obama. But he knew Obama long before his appointment in 2011.

“We played basketball together – pickup basketball games” as classmates at Harvard Law School, Miles told reporters last week at a campaign launch event in Lansing.

While Miles said he is the superior baseball player and bowler, he acknowledged the future president was better on the court.

“He’s got a good jump shot, and he’ll let you know he’s got a good jump shot,” Miles said.

Their friendly rivalry extended off the court as well. Obama served as president of the Harvard Law Review, while Miles was president of the Harvard Law Record, a student newspaper.

“When I became the first African-American president of the Law Record, I got no press coverage, but when he became president of the Law Review, he got coverage across the country, including the front page of my newspaper,” Miles joked. “So, we have a good relationship.”

Miles was less complimentary of Republican President Donald Trump, saying he would not be afraid to “stand up” to Trump as a state attorney general.

“We have seen a number of policies coming out of Washington and the Trump administration that we need an independent voice to say, ‘No, this is not constitutional or this is not consistent with our American or our Michigan values.”

DeVos security protection to continue

The U.S. Marshals Service will continue providing security for Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos through next September at a cost to the taxpayer of $6.54 million, according to the U.S. Education Department.

The Marshals Service does not typically provide security for cabinet members, but began protecting DeVos after protesters temporarily blocked her from entering a public school in Washington, D.C., in February. Protesters have turned out at her other public appearances, as well.

DeVos, who is from the Grand Rapids area, has continued to be one of the most polarizing members of President Donald Trump’s administration over her advocacy for school choice and her recent decision to withdraw Obama-era guidance on investigating campus sexual assault.

The Department of Education reimbursed the Marshals Service $5.28 million for security it provided from February through the end of September, department spokeswoman Liz Hill said.

That amount was roughly $2.5 million under budget in part because DeVos pays for the marshals to fly on her privately owned plane, leading to savings on travel costs, according to the department.

The Associated Press reported last month that DeVos uses a private jet to travel around the country to tour schools and attend other work events at her own expense.

Talking Trump statue on the market

A Florida company is trying to make the American political novelty market great again by peddling a talking figure of Trump.

The “Donald Talking Figure” spits out 17 different comments by the Republican president with the push of a red button. Among the booming, high-definition audio lines culled from hundreds of hours of YouTube and online speeches:

“Who doesn’t market something with Trump’s name and turn it into gold?” said Meshawn Maddock of Milford, a Trump Michigan presidential campaign co-chair and a leader of Michigan Trump Republicans. “I’m really happy that it is not showing President Trump in a negative light.”

Since the Trump name is trademarked, Our Friendly Forest owner Jay Kamhi said in an email that he avoids that name in his product even as the creator of the “Hillary Laughing Pen” pays homage to the New York businessman.

“I made that mistake last year with my Donald Talking Pen, and Customs seized the entire shipment,” said Kamhi, whose company is based in Clearwater, Florida, and sells the eight-comment pen on Amazon.com for $14.95.

The 8-inch-tall talking Donald figure is made in China.

The talking Donald is sold for $19.95 at Amazon.com, and Kamhi said shipping is free for Amazon Prime customers.

Democrat to join race for Trott’s seat

Democrat Dan Haberman of Birmingham is expected Thursday to enter the 11th District race to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Dave Trott of Birmingham. He filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday.

Haberman, 43, helped lead the statewide campaign to ban smoking in public spaces, which was signed into law in 2009.

His grandparents started Haberman Fabrics, which his parents later operated. Haberman graduated from the University of Michigan and Georgetown University Law School before returning to Michigan to serve as general counsel to his brother Jeremy’s live music venue, the Magic Bag.

Haberman now maintains a limited entertainment and real estate law practice, as a boutique co-working space called Byte & Mortar Offices.

Two Democrats previously declared in the 11th District – Haley Stevens, former chief of staff to Obama’s Auto Task Force, and Fayrouz Saad, Detroit’s former director of immigration affairs. Physician Anil Kumar, who ran against Trott last year, is mulling another run.

Fannie Mae HQ upgrades draw criticism

Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, this week hammered the administrator of the Federal Housing Finance Agency about some extravagant upgrades planned by mortgage lender Fannie Mae to its consolidated headquarters in Washington.

The upgrade plans include a $250,000 chandelier, a $4 million cafeteria and adding a third glass skywalk between buildings at a cost of $2 million. An inspector general report dated Sept. 28 found the cost of the upgrades, initially approved at $115 million, had ballooned to $171 million.

Huizenga said the agency was “making K Street law firms and lobby shops jealous. They want to move to 15th and L (streets). They want to move off K Street if this your headquarters.”

He questioned the upgrade costs when FHFA Administrator Melvin L. Watt appeared before the House Financial Services Committee, asking what Watt was doing about the “outrageous overruns.” FHFA acts as conservator of Fannie Mae.

Watt disagreed that they were “outrageous overruns,” saying the inspector general report was based on projections that “are coming down every time we get a report.”

When Huizenga suggested canceling the skywalk, Watt – a former congressman from North Carolina – suggested Congress could also eliminate its underground subway at the Capitol, but “it would be a lot less efficient.”

Candidate raises $211,700

Democrat Matt Longjohn, the public health expert and physician hoping to unseat U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, raised nearly $211,700 in the third quarter, his campaign said Wednesday.

Longjohn of Portage announced his campaign in late July after leaving his position as the national health officer of the YMCA, where he ran community health programs.

Longjohn’s campaign says the fundraising total is a record in the 6th District for a first-time fundraising report by a Democrat.

In the last two cycles, Upton faced Democrat Paul Clements, besting him by 22 percentage points last fall. Clements last cycle raised record amounts of cash for a Democrat in the district, raising more than $1.15 million.

Other Democrats in the primary race include David Benac, Rich Eichholz and Eponine Garrod.

Contributors: Jonathan Oosting, Richard Burr, Melissa Nann Burke

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