Florida lobbyists question the ethics of DeSantis officials’ fundraising tactics. Some Taylor Swift fans scrutinize her latest collaboration. And why conservatives are lashing out at mainstream brands despite years of corporations supporting LGBTQ causes.
Here’s what to know today.
GOP lobbyists shocked by DeSantis aides’ fundraising tactic
In political campaigns, staffers are charged with raising money, and aides on the official side are walled off from those operations. But officials who work for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration — not his campaign — appear to be breaching traditional norms.
Text messages reviewed by NBC News from four DeSantis officials show they requested Florida lobbyists contribute to the governor’s campaign through a specific link that appeared to track who is giving as part of a “bundle” program.
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The legality of the solicitations depends on a series of factors, but a longtime Florida election law attorney said that even if the DeSantis aides are fundraising for the campaign in their personal capacity, off the government clock, it still raises ethical questions.
“The bottom line is that the administration appears to be keeping tabs on who is giving, and are doing it using state staff,” a longtime Florida lobbyist said. “You are in a prisoner’s dilemma. They are going to remain in power. We all understand that.” Other lobbyists also expressed their dissatisfaction.
Conservatives wage war on corporations that show love for LGBTQ people
Bud Light. Target. Disney.
These are just some of the brands on the receiving end of recent conservative backlash. Many mainstream brands have publicly supported LGBTQ people for years. So what’s different now?
Advocates and marketing experts say it’s the growing power of a vocal minority of the far-right. These political commentators, conservative politicians and religious legal groups have led the calls to boycott the companies while also supporting a historic wave of state legislation that seeks to restrict LGBTQ rights. Here’s what makes this year different, according to experts, and why Pride Month could test corporate allyship “like we’ve never seen.”
Pennsylvania ‘cracks’ down on Shell plant
Shell has agreed to pay $10 million to Pennsylvania for exceeding emissions limits during the troubled launch of its massive new plastics plant in Beaver County, near the western edge of the state. The company switched on its “ethane cracker” plant in November, but before operations even began, state records show Shell had exceeded its 12-month “volatile organic compounds” emissions ceiling.
Residents have made their complaints about the plant known for months. Ever since operations began, “the sky has been a completely different color,” one person said. Yet they consider the multi-million-dollar civil penalty a complicated victory.
Marijuana’s alarming link to psychiatric disorders in young adults
Experts are raising serious concerns about the increasing marijuana use by adolescents and young adults. New research published this month, involving millions of people worldwide over decades, appears to show links between cannabis use and psychiatric disorders. One study found a “worrisome” link between cannabis and schizophrenia, especially in young men. Another found that teens who use cannabis recreationally are two to four times more likely to develop psychiatric disorders than teens who don’t use cannabis at all.
So far, research has been observational and does not directly prove cause and effect. But with more states legalizing marijuana, experts say they’re concerned about the lack of regulation within the market.
▼ Today’s Talker
Some Taylor Swift fans aren’t sure about…
… her newly announced collaboration with rapper Ice Spice, given her connection to The 1975 frontman Matty Healy. Here’s the tea: Swift is rumored to be dating Healy, who earlier this year engaged in behavior some deemed racist, including joining in on jokes mocking Ice Spice. Now, some think Swift’s collab with the rapper seems like a calculated move.
▼ Politics in Brief
Jan. 6 riot: Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right Oath Keepers, has been sentenced to 18 years in federal prison in connection with the attack on the Capitol, the longest sentence against a Jan. 6 defendant to date.
2024 election: North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum is expected to launch a presidential campaign in the coming weeks. Whether consciously or not, his talking points include several sharp contrasts with Ron DeSantis.
Expensive gifts: The Justice Department is investigating whether gifts were given to New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez and his wife, including a Mercedes-Benz, a luxury D.C. apartment, money and jewelry.
Texas politics: A state House committee voted unanimously to recommend that Attorney General Ken Paxton be impeached and removed from office.
▼ Staff Pick
‘Too many children have died’
This week, NBC News launched “Death by Delay,” a series on how consumer product hazards have cost lives. In Part 1, reporters Suzy Khimm and Elizabeth Chuck provide a first-time count of deaths due to infant loungers — higher than previously reported by officials. Still, federal regulators have made no sweeping rules to prevent more deaths. — Elizabeth Robinson, newsletter editor
▼ In Case You Missed It
Indiana’s medical board fined a doctor after she spoke publicly about providing an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim.
A senior Biden administration official told NBC News that economic talks with Chinese officials in Washington this week could bolster a U.S. push for a diplomatic thaw. But could news of Chinese hacking derail it?
How many storms make up a “near-normal” hurricane season? Forecasters share their predictions for the upcoming season.
A teen accused of bringing an AR-15 to his Phoenix high school also allegedly had a “lightning link” device that would allow the weapon to function as a fully automatic machine gun, according to court documents.
In an alarming incident caught on video, wind and panic spread through a plane cabin after a passenger opened a door during a flight in South Korea.
A “burn after reading” note to Brian Laundrie from his mother offered him a shovel and garbage bags if he needed to dispose of a body.
▼ Select: Online Shopping, Simplified
While full-coverage foundations are great for picture-perfect skin, they can also be heavy and constricting. Tinted moisturizers are sheer, lightweight and provide enough pigment to give your skin a natural glow. Here’s what to look for in a tinted moisturizer and the best products to try.
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