All In With Chris Hayes, Thursday, February 5th, 2015
Read the transcript from the Thursday show
Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
Date: February 5, 2015
Guest: Ben Allen, Mary Currier, Lisa Graves, Wil Hylton, Poncho Nevarez
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Tonight on ALL IN --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. RICHARD PAN (D), CALIFORNIA: We should not wait for more
children to sicken or die before we act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The measles outbreak continues. One hundred and forty-five cases
over 14 states.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This cluster includes five children all under the age of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Tonight, the California lawmaker trying to end personal exemptions
for measles vaccines.
And a deep red state that is getting it right.
Then, the new Republican front-runner runs head-on into his first 2016
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no doubt we can move this country forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The story of Scott Walker and abandoning the search for truth.
The Texas lawmaker threatened by an open carry activist joins me live.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Going against the Constitution is treason. And, my
friend, that is punishable by death.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And an ALL IN investigation of what appears to be modern day snake
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the overwhelming majority of cases, there was no
trace of the product that was purportedly being sold.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: ALL IN starts right now.
Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
As lawmakers in three states consider enacting stricter laws on vaccination
compliance, measles has hit a Chicago area daycare. Five babies, all under
one year old from a suburban Chicago KinderCare have been exposed with
measles. About 10 more infants could have been exposed to the virus. They
are all, and this is important to stress, too young to have gotten the
measles vaccine. County health officials say to expect more cases in the
About 90 percent of people exposed to the virus who are not protected come
down with measles. The source of the infection has not yet been identified
and health officials so far are not connecting this cluster of cases in
Illinois with the recent national outbreak that started at Disneyland, nor
do they connect it yet to the one known adult case of measles in Cook
County, Illinois. But health officials instructing students, faculty and
staff at the daycare center that if they had not yet received the MMR
vaccine to stay home for the next 21 days.
Meanwhile, in the state at the epicenter of the recent outbreak of measles,
California, where Disneyland was ground zero this past December, state
lawmakers want to change the law governing exemptions to vaccination
requirements. The new bill would abolish a vaccination exemption for a
parent`s personal beliefs. It is an issue that has joined its co-sponsors
with health officials.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. RICHARD PAN (D), CALIFORNIA: We should not wait for more
children to sicken or die before we act.
DR. DEAN BLUMBERG, UC DAVIS PEDIATRIC EXPERT: I will say that I really
sympathize with parents during this age because they are exposed to a lot
of confusing information. It can be very difficult to sort through it about
what`s credible and what`s not credible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The bill`s other co-sponsor will join me in just a moment. But as
detailed by the "L.A. Times," quote, "currently 13,592 children have
personal belief affidavits on file. Of those, 2,764 were identified as
based on religious beliefs." Thus the overwhelming majority of exemptions
in California as of now are based on nonreligious personal beliefs. And the
new California bill would do away with that exemption. According to one of
the bill`s sponsors, it would retain the religious belief exemption.
One issue the recent national outbreak raises is just how many states
across the country allow religious or personal exemptions. This map shows
the breakdown. Forty-eight states, plus the District of Columbia, allow
religious exemptions to vaccination requirements. All those golden colored
state, 20 states are ones shaded darker, also allow an exemption based upon
personal belief. Two states do not allow any non-medical exemptions at all.
More on that in a moment.
In the midst of the nation`s current measles outbreak, California is not
the only state considering a change in its laws. A Washington state
lawmaker has just introduced a bill that would disallow personal belief
exemptions and a group of Vermont lawmakers considering pushing for an end
to the philosophical exemption in their state, and another term for
personal exemption. With the current measles outbreak topping 100 cases
across 14 states, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention is appealing to people`s common sense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. TOM FRIEDEN, CDC DIRECTOR: Measles is highly infectious. It`s so
infectious that if you have one person who`s just having the first symptoms
of measles and they show up in an auditorium, every -- or 90 percent of the
other kids in that auditorium who haven`t been vaccinated can get infected.
That`s why it`s so important that kids gets vaccinated. And it`s important
for parents to understand that vaccinate their child it`s not only about
their child, it`s also about the neighbor with the baby, or the kid down
the street who went through chemotherapy for cancer. This is about doing
your part to protect not just your family but your community as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: In California, which is so often the forefront of state-based
initiatives, it will be interesting to see if the proposed tightening of
non-medical exemptions can succeed. And here to talk about that, joining me
now, California State Senator Ben Allen, the co-sponsor of that bill.
Senator, first, how did it get to this point? Why is it the case that
California seems to be the kind of both epicenter of the outbreak, of
exemptions, and also the loosest kind of regulatory approach to this?
STATE SEN. BEN ALLEN (D), CALIFORNIA: That`s a good question. We`re always
the first in everything. And I think we`ve got a lot of people with, you
know, free thinkers. We`ve got a lot of -- we`re also a state with a lot of
people coming in and out. People leaving the state, coming into the state.
We`ve got some major tourist centers. So there`s a lot of free flow in our
state. And, you know, ultimately, we had -- we let our vaccination rates go
just too low in certain areas of the state and that`s why we`re putting
forward this legislation to solve that problem and get those vaccination
rates back up to where they need to be to protect the public health.
HAYES: OK. So, from affair, basically given what we`ve seen in terms of the
outbreak that`s happening, given the specter of a disease that essentially
had been eliminated coming running back, given the low vaccination rates in
places like Santa Cruz and Los Angeles as well that are below the herd (ph)
immunity threshold, this would seem to be a no-brainer. Is it a no-brainer
ALLEN: Well, I think we`re going to get a lot of support from across the
political spectrum, lots of different types of folks. But, you know, there
are certainly going to be some people out there who are going to be
concerned. We`re -- but we`re making sure to, you know, allow for medical
exemptions and religious exemptions. That sort of thing. But, yes, there
will be some people opposed. I think they don`t believe some of the
science. They haven`t been -- they haven`t kind of gotten up to speed with
the fact that a lot of the studies about vaccines have -- that were showing
that vaccines were a problem have been totally debunked.
And I think the main thing here is that people really forget. They forget
how dangerous a world it is out there. They forget the fact that, you know,
half of Europe was wiped out during the bubonic plague. They forgot the
fact that before the measles vaccine we had 100 people dying every single
year of measles. And so we`ve gotten a little complacent, I think, because
we`ve been so successful in immunizing people and in creating more
cleanliness, in creating more safety for people. And they forget that
there`s a lot of risk out there. and, you know, they`ve decide not to get
vaccinated and as a result we now see this outbreak and we -- and public
health officials tell us that there`s a danger of other outbreaks to come
if we don`t get a handle on this matter.
HAYES: Where is the organized resistance going to come to this bill, if
there is any? You said some people won`t like it, and that`s true of any
piece of legislation. But the question`s going to be, if there are people
actually on the other side of this lobbying against it, if you have members
of the state legislature lobbying against it, where do you anticipate that
ALLEN: We haven`t heard anyone in the state legislature lobby against it
yet. And the governor`s already making some very positive comments about
it. We even have the Senate minority leader, the Republican leader in the
Senate, make positive comments about the bill.
So we`re feeling pretty good about where we are in the legislature. There
will certainly be some people out there who will raise concerns in the
broader public and I`m sure you`ve heard from some of them yourself. But I
think, in the end of the day, this is going to be something that`s going to
bring people together. People really do get concerned about this public --
this kind of public health risk that we currently have and I`m feeling
confident about this.
HAYES: Well, let me ask you this. Why is it legislatively salient whether
my objection has to do with God or not? I mean it seems to me that you
start to enter into somewhat dicey philosophical territory in which, if you
have an objection based on a set of beliefs that are grounded in some sense
of a supreme being, that is OK, if you have a philosophical objection
grounded in some set of beliefs that are entirely secular, that is not.
What`s the principled distinction between the two?
ALLEN: That`s a great question. And, of course, you know, to some extent
it`s grounded in the history of the United States and the First Amendment,
that sort of thing. We actually don`t have a religious exemption on the
books in California. It was created by the governor as part of a signing
message a couple of years ago when he signed a bill that tightened up the
vaccine requirements at the time. So it`s an interesting -- it`s an
interesting issue. We`re going to be talking with the governor, we`re going
to be talking with other legislative leaders and trying to define how
exactly that religious exemption will look. So it`s a great question. Stay
tuned. It`s something we`re working on right now.
HAYES: California State Senator Ben Allen, thank you very much.
ALLEN: Thank you. Thanks so much.
HAYES: When it comes to health, there are all kinds of rankings that show
Mississippi is one of the worst performers, and California, where the state
senator is from, is one of the best performers in the nation. Look at these
statistics from Kiser (ph) Family Foundation. Cancer deaths, California,
number 46, Mississippi number three in cancer deaths, after Kentucky and
West Virginia. Adult obesity, California number 47, Mississippi the number
two state in adult obesity. The percent of adults who smote, California,
way down at number 51. In a list that includes 50 states, D.C., Puerto Rico
and Guam, Mississippi number five. One of the smokingest states in the
union. You get the picture.
All right, but let`s bring back that national measles exemption map.
Mississippi is one of only two states, along with West Virginia, that does
not allow any non-medical exemption. So it should come as no surprise,
Mississippi has not had a single case of measles in more than 20 years.
Joining me now on the phone is Dr. Mary Currier, she`s a Mississippi state
health officer at the Mississippi State Department of Health.
Dr. Currier, how is it the case that you have this statutory environment
that allows no exceptions? Why is that?
DR. MARY CURRIER, MISSISSIPPI STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH (via telephone):
Well, we do have a really good, strong public health law. And in the 1970s,
in 1979, religious exemptions were declared unconstitutional. So we don`t
have religious exemptions. And like 30 other -- well, 29 other states, we
don`t have philosophical exemptions. So we do have medical exemptions,
though. So children who shouldn`t be vaccinated, aren`t.
HAYES: So there are two states, West Virginia and Mississippi, that
essentially don`t have exemptions. Your vaccination rate is, I think, the
highest in the country. You haven`t had a case in 20 years. It`s higher
even than West Virginia, which has the name legal architecture. How have
you done it?
CURRIER: We have a really good system where physicians have to submit a
form to the schools when a child is entering school. Remember, this is a
school entry law. And when they provide that form, it shows what vaccines
the child has had and whether or not they`re complete for school entry. The
school has to submit the fact of the form to the health department. So they
report on that two times in the beginning of the school year, one at the
very beginning and one a month later to show that all their kids are either
complete or they have a medical exemption.
HAYES: What is your perspective on this given Mississippi`s record on this
being so stellar as you watch this play out in other states? Do you have
advice for states like California or Washington or Vermont that are
considering restricting the exemptions they`ve been offering?
CURRIER: Well, I think it`s a good idea. I think parents who don`t want to
vaccinate their children are trying to do the right thing for their
children, by they just don`t understand the science of it. I know they want
to do the right thing. But, in fact, if you make a decision not to
vaccinate your child, you`re affecting the people around that child. So I
think not having philosophical exemptions is the right thing.
HAYES: Do you think there are political reasons that there has been
resistance to this? And if you would anticipate there might be political
resistance to the government sort of being heavy handed, you might expect
to find them in the state of Mississippi where they apparently don`t exist?
CURRIER: Well, no, we have people who object to the law the way it is. We
certainly have folks who object to it. And we are trying very hard to make
sure everybody has the facts so that they understand why we have the law
that we have.
HAYES: Dr. Mary Currier, thank you very much.
HAYES: 2016 presidential hopeful Governor Scott Walker may have just handed
his opponents their first campaign ad.
Plus, Harvard University has about 2,400 faculty members, all of whom were
banned this week from doing one thing. And I`ll tell you what it is, next.
HAYES: Times are changing in America`s oldest Ivy League school. In new
rules published this week, just 379 years after Harvard University was
established, the school`s officially banned it`s professors from having sex
with under graduate students. You may be thinking, what took so long? Well,
after years of discouraging the relationships, the new policy explicitly
bans professors from having, quote, "a romantic or sexual relationship with
any undergraduate student." A history professor who chaired the panel that
wrote the new policy said, quote, "undergraduates come to college to learn
from us. We`re not here to have sexual or romantic relationships with
them." I guess that`s largely true.
This seems pretty sensible, and yet a surprising number of colleges don`t
ban the relationships. For example, my good old alma matter, Brown
University, processors are only, quote, "advised against having an amorous
relationship with a student" who is in a class the professor teachers. The
rest apparently are fair game.
But both Yale University and the University of Connecticut have banned
student/professor sex in recent years and Harvard did stop short of banning
all student/faculty relationships, leaving the door open for relationships
between faculty and graduate students if the faculty member does not
supervise that student. No word yet on what happens if the new rules are
HAYES: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, likely 2016 candidate, is having
the first big moment of the (INAUDIBLE) presidential race. He`s had a
couple weeks of glowing coverage following a strong appearance in Iowa.
He`s now ahead in the polls both in Iowa and New Hampshire, home to the
crucial first two nominating contests.
But as Walker`s been establishing his national bona fides, he`s found
himself embroiled in a political scandal at home over Wisconsin`s beloved
public university system and whether the governor is opposed to, and I am
quoting here, the search for truth.
On Tuesday, Governor Walker unveiled his budget proposal for next fiscal
year. And buried in the text of the proposal were a few revisions to the
mission statement of the University of Wisconsin system. Now, among the
changes, the proposal adds the phrase "to meet the state`s workforce needs"
and it strikes, deletes, takes out the somewhat loftier aim, "to extend
knowledge and its application beyond the boundaries of its campuses."
And in a move that`s got a lot of people questions just what exactly the
governor believes in, Walker`s proposal would delete the following line,
"basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth." The
proposed revisions were immediately seen as an assault on what`s known as
the Wisconsin idea. A century old tradition prizing service in the state as
a fundamental goal of the state`s fantastic university system.
Now, responding to the changes, the president of the University of
Wisconsin said in a statement, quote, "the Wisconsin idea is embedded in
our DNA. It is so much more than words on a page. It is the reason the UW
system exists. It defines us and forever will distinguish us as a great
public university. Wisconsin must not abandon this core principal and
So, so amid the mounting outrage, Governor Walker told a reporter from "The
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" yesterday that university officials had in fact
seen the changes and they failed to raise concerns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: That was language that they went through,
looked at, and somehow overlooked. So for us we have no problem putting
that in. Our focus is on creating an authority that gives them full
flexibility, not on changing the mission.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you surprised by the response from the UW system
president, by the chancellor?
WALKER: Well, I think a surprise in the sense that they saw the language
and didn`t point that out then.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: By the end of the day, however, Walker had fully backed off the
proposed revisions, dismissing them as a simple drafting error. Quote, "the
Wisconsin idea will continue to thrive. The final version of the budget
will fix the drafting error. The mission statement will include the
But then the plot thickens. Today, "The Journal Sentinel" unearthed
documents showing that staff in Walker`s budget office had actually been
the ones requesting these specific line by line changes to the language of
the mission statement. This was not an accidental drafting error. And as a
result, Walker was forced to change his story yet again, this time chalking
the whole thing up to miscommunication. He explained today in a written
statement, "late on Wednesday my chief of staff spoke again with UW System
staff and found that they had raised a concern with the state budget office
about the specific language. Unfortunately, when my office told the budget
staff to keep it simple, they took that to mean that we only wanted
workforce readiness language in the mission when we really wanted the
language added to the existing mission statement."
You got that? OK. Sounds totally reasonable, I guess. Walker reiterated he
won`t move ahead with the changes and reaffirmed his commitment to the
But there`s another provision in his budget which tells a very different
story about that commitment. A $300 million cut to the University of
Wisconsin system amounting to 13 percent of its entire budget.
Joining me now, Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and
Democracy based in Wisconsin.
Lisa, so how did this whole thing get blown up into an issue?
LISA GRAVES, CENTER FOR MEDIA & DEMOCRACY: Well, we actually broke the
story on our site prwatch.org earlier this week. We were shocked to find
this language in the budget. When Walker started claiming that he -- that
it was not intentional, that it was a drafting error, it was a bit of a
shock as well because it was quite intentionally a strike-out. It wasn`t
about drafting language or adding language, it was about striking out the
idea that a public university is supposed to be engaged in the search for
I am an alum of the University of Wisconsin at Lacrosse and I, along with
thousands of alums and professors and others, were shocked and appalled at
Walker`s disregard for the search for truth and disregard for this
fundamental commitment that has made Wisconsin`s public university system
one of the crown jewel of the state and one of the crown jewels of public
universities in the country.
HAYES: Yes. So here`s what -- here`s what`s strange about this, I think,
from a perspective outside Wisconsin. I mean the Wisconsin system, I`d
spent some -- I`ve spent some time in Wisconsin. The UW system`s amazing.
And it`s not just Madison. I mean it`s (INAUDIBLE) or it`s Lacrosse or
Milwaukee. I mean all throughout the state there`s these campuses. It`s an
incredible system. It`s probably, next to California, with California, one
of the best in the whole country. Why is he -- why has Scott Walker decide
the next battle he is going to wage is going to be against the UV system?
GRAVES: It`s really extraordinary because you`d think that with his
presidential aspirations, he would be talking about his game plan to be in
favor of education, in favor of expanding opportunities for Americans. This
cut, this $300 million, comes on top of other cuts. This is, you know,
nearly 13 percent of the university`s budget. It`s devastating. Its impact
will be felt by students across the state. And ultimately it weakens our
state. It weakens our economy. It`s just the wrong move in the wrong
direction. And it comes in the face of Walker`s previous tax cuts, which
basically benefitted some of the biggest corporations and individuals in
the state to the disadvantage of ordinary people, including students in the
state. And so I think he signals time and time again that he`s got the
wrong priorities. His priorities reflect the priorities of the billionaires
that he`s beloved by. But, in fact, this latest move and this bumbling by
Walker is more the Walker snow job.
HAYES: Yes, but --
GRAVES: And in Wisconsin, we know a snow job when we see one.
HAYES: Well, yes, although, here`s the thing, right, Walker`s won three
elections in four years. He has framed this, I think, in a kind of
fascinating way politically, where he`s basically saying, $300 million cut
but capping tuition for the next two years, right? So the kind of -- the
most politically difficult thing for him, which was that it would lead to
tuition hikes, he can sort of skate away from, and the squeeze gets made up
by these pointy-headed intellectual professors who are layabouts anyway and
don`t want to do any work and they`re the ones he`s going after. And that
strikes me as, even if a massive misrepresentation of the truth, perhaps
there is some audience for that politically in the state.
GRAVES: Well, I think it shows his manipulative nature. I mean the two
years is definitely in -- with a view I`m sure of the 2016 race --
GRAVES: To try to prevent there from being any rebellion against hiking the
student tuition even further. You know, so many students in this country
are saddled with enormous debt and Walker`s changes will only add another
generation of students to the increasing debt that students face coming out
of school. You know, Walker has played this game before. He had quite a bit
of a bait and switch campaign going on. His brown bag lunch campaign, which
swept him into office, mentioned nothing about his attack on the unions. He
gave a speech about the university budget earlier this week and didn`t
mention this major change to its mission. You know, this is part of his
modus operandi and I think that while he may have some superficial appeals
to some people, the reality is, he has barely a majority of the voters
supporting him in Wisconsin. He didn`t grow his majority at all because of
GRAVES: And his practices are so divisive.
HAYES: Well, and there`s also something -- there`s something sort of
ingenious about this from a sort of political standpoint. It seems to me
that one of his M.O.s in office has been to sort of use policy as a
mechanism by which to reduce the political power of people that would
oppose him, progressives, the left. I mean, go after the unions, right,
which is a huge pillar of progressive power in the state of Wisconsin. And
another big particular of progressive power in the state, frankly, is the
university system. I mean particularly in terms of the city of Madison,
Wisconsin, particularly in terms of student voting, particularly in terms
of the kinds of values that are thrown off by that system, the kinds of
folks that tend to move through it. I mean it does seem to me like he is
going after folks and going after the sources of power of progressives in
Wisconsin and he started with the unions and now he`s going to the
GRAVES: Well, that`s exactly right and he also backed voter restrictions
that make it harder for Americans to vote, make it harder for Wisconsinites
to vote, and in particular made it harder for university students to vote.
The bill that went through Wisconsin was designed to require your address
beyond your student I.D. and there be an expiration date. The idea that
students in Wisconsin are traveling to their hometown and voting in their
college town to double vote is absurd. There`s no record of that type of
fraud. But that`s just the type of maneuver that Walker pushed --
GRAVES: As part of his (INAUDIBLE) game plan to make it harder for
Americans to vote, and really what in many ways is part of this sort of
Koch-backed (ph) effort to push and entrench this sort of right-wing
majority or super majority in some states.
HAYES: All right, Lisa Graves, thank you.
Could what you say in a personal e-mail or text message get you fired from
Plus, why are Texas lawmakers wearing "I`m Poncho" stickers? I`m going to
talk to State Representative Poncho Nevarez, next.
HAYES: A big shakeup today at Sony Pictures with the news that one of the
longest serving Hollywood`s studio chiefs is stepping down. Amy Pascal is
resigning as co-chair of Sony Pictures Entertainment and chair of Sony`s
Motion Picture Group. She`ll leave her current positions in May but will
remain at the company with a producing deal.
Now, this comes on the heels of a devastating cyberattack on Sony by a
group of hackers over the film The Interview, a comedy that centers around
an assassination plot against North Korean dictator Kim Jong un.
The U.S. government later said North Korea had ordered the attack on Sony
and its employees, an embarrassing fire storm that put the company`s
dealings in the public eye, including thousands of personal e-mails from
Among the more damaging emails leaked, an exchange between Pascal and
producer Scott Rudin in which the two joked whether the first African-
American president enjoyed films like Django Unchained like 12 Years a
Pascal spoke to the website Deadline Hollywood after the scandal broke
saying the online attack was devastating to all involved, everyone at this
company has been violated and nobody here deserved this, she explained.
Now powerful executives get jobs and lose jobs all of the time and it`s
never exactly a tragedy. But there is something more than a little
disturbing about the idea that a person`s career can be derailed by a
hacker. And not because it means for Amy Pascal in particular, but for
what it means for everyone living in this creepy digital frontier.
I mean, it`s one thing when people lose their jobs for posting something
offensive on Facebook -- we`re going to have a story about that later.
Facebook is a largely public forum.
Amy Pascal`s e-mails, as offensive as they were, were supposedly private.
But that`s the point, nothing is private. We have entered a world where
text messages, emails, intimate communications that you believe are private
are, in fact, no private; everything you say in your digital, which
increasingly for people my age and and younger is everything you say, is
recorded and accessible by someone: the government or hackers or someone
that just wants to do you in.
The Amy Pascal story is just the latest sign we are entering a world where
all communication is vulnerable, nothing is private, no one is safe from
potential exposure and that gives me the chills.
HAYES: Prominent gun rights activist and open carry advocate Kory Watkins
posted a video to his Facebook page that appeared to show him warning
lawmakers in his home state of Texas that the penalty for treason is death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KORY WATKINS, GUN RIGHTS ADVOCATE: I don`t know if they forgot what their
duty is, but it`s to protect the constitution. And let me remind you,
going against the constitution is treason and, my friend, that is
punishable by death.
That`s how serious this is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now the video quickly got a lot of attention and Watkins removed it
from his Facebook page, then posted a comment yesterday morning explaining
he took it down because he thought, quote, "there were those that would
intentionally misinterpret my words," and, "my intent was to show that our
founders took treason very seriously. Our elected officials had taken an
oath to defend the constitution. Dereliction of that oath is an equally
serious matter. I was certainly not threatening anyone."
OK, fine, but, this is not the first time Kory Watkins has been in the
headlines. Just last month on the first day of the Texas legislative
session, Watkins posted video showing members of his gun rights group in
the office of state representative Poncho Nevarez doing their version of
lobbying for a bill that would allow Texans to openly carry handguns
without a license.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WATKINS: We need a yes vote from you. You don`t want to vote yes, we`re
going to start shopping for somebody that will.
PONCHO NEVAREZ, TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: I don`t want to vote yes.
WATKINS: All right, thanks for your time.
NEVAREZ: Go shop for him.
You all have a great day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As far as I`m concerned you`re a tyrant to the
constitution for the United States of America.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You won`t be here very long, bro.
NEVAREZ: I won`t be. I won`t be.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We the people are coming to take Texas back.
NEVAREZ: You need to leave. I`m asking you to leave my office.
WATKINS: I`m asking you to leave my state, because you don`t take your
NEVAREZ: You need to leave my office now.
WATKINS: Read the constitution.
NEVAREZ: You need to leave my office. You need to leave my office.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get your foot out of the door.
WATKINS: What are you going to do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Read the constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: A day after that happened, members of the Texas House passed a rule
to make it easier for its members to get panic buttons in their offices.
And later, the Texas Department of public safety assigned to security
detail to keep representative Nevarez safe.
And joing me now is Texas State Representative Poncho Nevarez.
Representative, what was that scene like? What was going through your head
during that encounter?
NEVAREZ: Well, you know it`s -- a lot of things were going through my head
at the time. You know, the office was full, my family was there -- my
wife, my children. We were about to go down to the House floor to get
sworn in. And every emotion that you could have goes through your head is
you`re fearing for the safety of those around you, you`re not really sure
what is going on.
You know, one of the things a lot of people -- that may be lost on people
is those folks come into your office armed. It`s legal to carry a
concealed handgun into the state capital.
So my intent was simply to diffuse the situation. And you know, we did the
best we could under the circumstances. But you know, you go from anger to
embarrassment to just flat out frustration. You kind of cycle through
every emotion that you could think of in that moment.
HAYES: Let me just stop you there for a second. It is legal to carry a
concealed gun into the Texas state capital?
NEVAREZ: Yes, sir.
HAYES: So presumably some of those people just are packing while they`re
in your office telling you that you, quote, "won`t be here for long."
NEVAREZ: I mean, I`m sure they were. I would doubt that they would not.
I`m sure some of them or most of them are concealed handgun licensed to
carry that weapon in the state capital.
HAYES: Now you`re -- OK, so you`re someone who is, as I understand, a gun
owner, if I`m not mistaken, has a shooting range on your property, if I`m
not wrong about that?
NEVAREZ: That`s correct.
What is your feeling about this group and the way they have kind of
conducted themselves and the way they have kind of pressed their issue in
the state of Texas?
NEVAREZ: I mean, it should give anybody pause regarding this issue. I
mean, this is a very serious issue and you have some people here that
obviously they`re not taking it serious. You saw the video yourself. Any
reasonable person can conclude that he is making a threat.
And based on the gentleman`s behavior before -- you know, a week ago our
lieutenant governor made some comments about the fact that this type of
legislation wouldn`t be a priority and they descended on the capital and
made similar threats to the lieutenant governor and he made an about face
on the issue.
Well, I can tell you that threats and that type of behavior shouldn`t be
tolerated. It won`t be tolerated by me. And it shouldn`t be part of the
debate on any type of legislation, especially legislation as serious as
HAYES: I want to play Kory Watkins defending sort of defending what he is
doing, his undertaking, his means of lobbying. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WATKINS: Maybe a foot in the door got a friendly reminder, a Rosa Parks
reminder, a peaceful reminder, we`re not playing around. I don`t think
they want to mess with us too much longer. They better start giving us our
rights, or this peaceful noncooperation stuff is going to be gamed up.
We`re going to step it up a notch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: How do you understand something like that?
NEVAREZ: I mean, anyone that understands the English language can
understand that to be a threat. And for him to even consider or put
himself in the same league as Rosa Parks is obscene. And I mean it`s just
And so I think any member of the House, any member of any legislative body
should not have to be pressured this way into deciding an issue.
And you know, the funny thing is, you know, this is one bill that they`re
talking about, which I would call unfettered open carry -- you know,
anybody can carry, all can come, that type of deal. There`s about four
other bills that have been filed by different representatives that would
make open carry look and feel very similar to our concealed handgun bill --
or the law that is in place now. And that is something that myself as a
gun owner would have been inclined to consider.
But now I have to weigh the factor that I have been threatened and should
might vote now hinge on the fact that these yoyos -- for lack of a better
word -- have threatened me? And the answer to that is, it takes precedence
to the actual issue itself.
HAYES: Texas State Representative Poncho Nevarez. Thank you very much,
really appreciate it.
Congressman Aaron Schock, talking about him this week, he has been in the
news. First it was for decorating his office like Downton Abbey. He
should I note say he`s never seen the show.
Now it`s for something far more serious that has led to a member of his
staff resigning today.
Plus, you will never in a million years guess what an investigation into a
world of highly lucrative nutritional supplements found. That`s ahead.
HAYES: It has not been a good week for Benjamin Cole, communications
director for Republican Congressman Aaron Schock.
First came a, quote, "crisis in the office" -- his words, not mine -- after
a Washington Post style reporter discovered his boss`s Downton Abbey
Now it appears Benjamin Cole wrote things on Facebook before he went to
work for the congressman that a future senior adviser for policy and
communications probably shouldn`t write -- actually no one should probably
In 2010, Buzzfeed reports Cole wrote they, quote, "should build a mosque on
the White House grounds." Went on to say, "I just think it would be nice
for the president to have his own house of worship." Ha ha.
Think Progress reports on a 2013 post on Cole`s Facebook page attached to a
video allegedly showing a black woman arguing with someone off screen that
reads, quote, "so apparently the closing of the National Zoo has forced the
animals to conduct their mating rituals on my street #gentrifytoday."
Today Congressman Schock told the Peoria Journal Star, quote, "I am
extremely disappointed by the inexcusable and offensive online comments
made by a member of my staff. I would expect any member of my team."
Benjami cole has now resigned. And I`ve got to say, good riddance.
HAYES: More than 150 million Americans take dietary supplements, according
to a 2013 study. And if you`re one of them watching right now, I have got
some bad though possibly not completely unexpected news, the type of news
that reminds you why the phrase snake oil salesman has had such an enduring
run in American culture.
This week, the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent
letters to four major retailers: GNC, Target, Walmart and Walgreens,
demanding they halt the sales of certain store brand herbal supplements
including echinacea, ginseng and St. Johns Wart after DNA testing found
that roughly four out of five of the products did not contain any of the
herbs on their labels. None whatsoever.
The worst offender was Walmart where just 4 percent of tested store brand
herbal supplements were found to contain DNA from plants listed on the
So what was actually in these pills according to the investigation?
Basically a lot of cheap filler, some of which could cause dangerous
A popular store brand of ginseng pills at Walgreens promoted for physical
endurance and vitality contained only powdered garlic and rice.
While at Walmart, authorities found that Ginkgo Biloba promoted as a memory
enhancer contained powdered radish, house plants and wheat.
While there are some questions being raised about the testing process used
by the attorney generals office, the findings do reflect the longstanding
warnings from experts concerning dietary supplements, which are subject to
Walgreens has already agreed to remove the store brand supplements from its
shelves nationwide. GNC is temporarily pulling them from its New York
Senate Democrats are calling on the Food and Drug Administration to do a
You may be wondering how all of this is possible, how alleged supplements
could apparently be sold to the American people chock full of nothing,
filler? And it has a lot to do with a law authored by Republican Senator
Orrin Hatch. Passed in 1994, it exempts supplements from the FDA`s
approval process for prescription drugs.
Now, Senator Hatch`s home state of Utah has been described as the Silicon
Valley of the dietary supplement industry. And Hatch has accepted hundreds
of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the industry and
quashed efforts to tighten oversight.
Now, some of you out there might be think, hey, I don`t take these things.
I have got nothing to worry about. OK, fine. But I bet a lot of you eat
chicken. And here is the thing, the news there amazingly might be worse.
When we come back, I will speak to author of a blockbuster story that
reveals just how much salmonella -- that is gross b-roll by the way -- how
much salmonella can be found in the 8.5 billion chickens we slaughter each
year for food and how little the government does to address the problem.
It`s enough to make those alleged ginko biloba pills made of house plants
sound absolutely delicious.
HAYES: Every year about 48 million Americans get food poisoning, that`s
roughly about one out of every six people. 128,000 of those people have to
be hospitalized. That`s a lot. About 3,000 every year will die.
Now, we were looking at those numbers. I have to say that seems like the
sort of thing we should be able to do something about in America in 2015.
But there are huge obstacles to improving our food safety. Here to tell us
about them, New Yorker contributor Wil Hylton who wrote an absolutely
stunning piece in the magazine about why are food, especially chickens, so
often makes us sick.
All right, well, this is my understanding of American trajectory of
American food safety. There is a period before , Upton Sinclair wrote The
Jungle. Then Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle. It was about how disgusting
and gross all the meat in America was. And then Teddy Roosevelt passed a
bunch of stuff, then we got the FDA. Now we inspect things. Everything is
fine. Why is that not true?
WIL HYLTON, NEW YORKER: Were that it were so.
I mean, the truth is that when it comes to food safety, the federal
regulatory system is neither. It is not especially regulatory and it`s not
much of a system. It`s this tangled network of overlapping agencies with
mixed mandates and vanishingly slender authority in a lot of cases.
And so it is true that over the course of the last century we`ve put
a lot of regulatory structure, but what they tend to do now in many cases
is either get in each other`s way or miss the things that fall between
HAYES: So, you have got a great example in the piece that stuck with me
about sausage and sausage casing -- apologies to those who were eating
dinner while watching the show, that sausage and sausage casing might find
themselves where the casing is under one regulatory agency, and sausage
insides are under another?
HYLTON: That`s right. And these are the two major ones -- the FDA and the
meat inspection agency, which is called FSIS. And it`s revealing, I think,
that the FDA is under health and human services and FSIS are under the
USDA. So already from the outset your two most important agencies are
under different cabinet level secretaries.
But, yes, the one FDA regulates the skin of a link sausage and FSIS
regulates the meat inside. And there`s a number of just mindblowing
examples like that.
HAYES: Yeah, so there`s also the performance standard idea, right?
There`s an idea -- I think, I guess what I thought before I read the
article is that, you know, there are some inspectors out there, they`re
looking at, they`re spot checking some amount of the food that is going
through the system. If they find bad stuff there is some kind of audit,
and if there is, say, salmonella it all gets pulled. That`s no how it
works. How does it actually work?
HYLTON: So, that`s how they would like it to work. But unfortuantely in a
1999 lawsuit, the FSIS discovered that much to their surprise when they
lost the lawsuit, that they were not allowed to shut a plant down if it
exceeded the standards for contamination levels.
And so ever since they have been forced to use all these sort of work
around methods to try to find other ways to put pressure on a company when
it`s succeeding the contamination limits and whether or not that is working
is, you know...
HAYES: Let me stop you right there. I investigate -- my job is I`m an
investigator at FSIS, and my job is to go and investigate a place where
they are, say, processing chicken, right?
HYLTON: Well, so, with FSIS, unlike FDA, there are inspectors on the line
at every open plant. This is very different from the FDA in another
revealing way, because at FDA, a producer under their purview might go
years without seeing an inspector. If you making meat and poultry and you
come under the purview of FSIS, you have inspectors there, but if they are
to discover that for example, with broiler chickens, the limit is 7.5
percent contamination of salmonella. So, that sounds very specific right?
If there was more than that you would think they could do something about
it because they set this standard.
Well, apparently no. If the contamination level is 30 percent or something
like that, there is very little they can do.
HAYES: I mean, I just have this image of an inspector in like this like
salmonella cesspool plant at the end of the line like in horror getting
these 30 percent readings and turning around just being like "you guys.
Like is that basically, like, if they can`t shut them down, what can they
HYLTON: Well, one things they do that would be funny if it wasn`t so
upsetting is that they`ve started to post the results of their testing on
their website in the hopes that this will embarrass producers who are
delivering bad results.
So, you know, whether or not that works I`ll leave to your imagination.
HAYES: So is the system -- is the system broken as an accident, or is it
broken by design? And what I mean by broken by design is obviously there
are very big powerful interests that don`t want -- they want the minimal
amount of regulation possible that also would like it not to be the case
that these moments of food poisoning can be traced back to them in any kind
of way, and also don`t want to suffer huge recalls which are extremely
HYLTON: Right. So, I mean, I think it is safe to say that most people who
are producing food in America, the industry, don`t want to have sick
customers. But I think it is also equally fair to say that they`re not
especially enthusiastic about taking the discombobulated mess of a
regulatory structure we have now and streamlining it into this very
efficient enforcement agency that will suddenly clamp down every time
something starts to exceed a contamination limit.
So, there is a great deal of lobbying. Senator Louis Slaughter does an
awful lot of monitoring of it. And her office can give you the numbers.
But there`s a tremendous amount of lobbying that`s done to prevent the
consolidation and streamlining of the food safety apparatus.
HAYES: Yeah, just a few more examples -- I love this -- fish are under the
FDA, except cat fish, which falls under FSIS; frozen cheese pizza regulated
by the FDA, but frozen pizza with slices of pepperoni monitored by FSIS;
bagel dogs are FDA, corndogs FSIS.
There are solutions, however. I mean, this is not an unsolved problem.
You talk about Denmark, you talk about other places that have very
successfully created regimes that dramatically reduce food born illness.
HYLTON: Yeah, in Denmark and in several other European countries, they
have gotten the incidents of salmonella, for example, down to about 1
percent or 2 percent. And here we`re looking at -- you know, even our
standard for ground chicken is about half, so about 46 percent or 49
percent of ground chicken and ground turkey can test positive without even
reaching the limits, let alone if it gets higher and nobody can do anything
So we`re not even coming close to the examples set by some other countries.
HAYES: 44.6 percent of ground chicken can test positive for salmonella and
meet the performance standards that the regulators themselves say is okay?
HYLTON: Yeah. And for chicken parts the performance standard, get this,
there isn`t one, so 100 percent can test positive for salmonella without
running afoul of any federal limit.
HAYES: Well, that`s disgusting.
Wil Hylton, that was a fantastic bit of reporting. Gross, but very
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right
now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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