A week ago the Supreme Court turned down an appeal from former Republican Congressman Rick Renzi, who began serving a three-year prison term in February. In 2006, a left-leaning U.S. Attorney in Arizona saw an opportunity to take out the popular, charismatic conservative Congressman by going after him over a confusing and complicated land deal. Renzi was an easy target because the facts were so complex there was little chance the general public would figure out how the law was being manipulated to selectively target him. This type of targeting has become a common pattern by the left; similar tactics were used against former House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, former Congressman Bob MacDonnell and a district attorney in Texas. Representing a swing district, once Renzi's credibility was destroyed, it became easy to turn the seat over to a Democrat.
Renzi was found guilty on 17 counts of using his office for personal financial gain and taking $400,000 in corporate money from his family insurance business to fund his campaign. He was convicted of proposing a land swap deal in Congress to benefit a man who owed him money, so the man could afford to pay him back. It is true that he suggested The Aries Group purchase an alfalfa farm near Sierra Vista owned by James Sandlin, and he proposed legislation-swapping out the land for copper-rich land owned by the federal government. The sale went through at fair market value, shortly after Sandlin paid Renzi $733,000. Sandlin was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
However, the government never provided any evidence that The Aries Group's purchase of the property provided Sandlin with the money to pay Renzi back. The land swap legislation never went into effect. In fact, Sandlin paid off the debt in September 2005 with a loan he had taken out for $900,000. He did not receive the money from The Aries Group until October 2005, a month after he had repaid the debt, which he put into escrow. Additionally, he had multiple properties he could have sold to repay the debt. He had been making regular payments on the debt since it originated over a handshake in 2003, and there was no indication whatsoever that he was going to discontinue payments. Perhaps most importantly, Renzi would not have received any benefit from the land swap. The land swap was simply not related to the debt. more >>
A Sudanese court has ruled that there is enough evidence to move forward with the trial of two imprisoned South Sudanese Presbyterian pastors facing "trumped-up" espionage charges, which are punishable by death. The pastors' attorney will have only two weeks to prove their innocence without access to his clients.
In the sixth hearing in the case against pastors Yat Michael and Peter Reith in Khartoum, a judge ruled Thursday that there is sufficient evidence to "charge" the pastors with seven different crimes including criminal conspiracy, espionage, promoting hatred amongst the sects, blasphemy, undermining the constitutional system, obtaining official documents and disturbing the peace — two of which could be punishable by death.
According to the American Center for Law and Justice, the judge's Thursday ruling now means that the pressure is on the pastors' attorney, Mohaned Mustafa, to now prove the innocence of his two clients rather than their guilt having to be proven. more >>
A Montana polygamist who was excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said earlier this week that he plans to file a lawsuit against the state if it denies his application for a marriage license with his second wife.
Nathan Collier, who once starred on TLC's "Sister Wives" alongside his two wives Victoria and Christine, applied for a marriage license at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings on Tuesday with hopes of legally marrying his second wife, Christine. His decision to do so came last week after Chief Justice John Roberts' dissent on gay marriage, which raised the issue of plural marriage following the U.S. Supreme Court's legalization of same-sex marriage.
On June 26, the Supreme Court ruled 5–4 in Obergefell v. Hodges, which declared state-level gay marriage bans unconstitutional. more >>
The Oregon Christian bakery owners who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding on the grounds that it would violate their religious convictions have been ordered to pay $135,000 in emotional damages, and have also been prohibited from speaking about standing up for their Christian beliefs.
On Thursday, Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian issued his final order in the case against Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of the Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery in Gresham, who were found guilty of discrimination in January for declining to bake a cake for a lesbian couple's wedding in 2013. Avakian ordered the Kleins to pay complainant Rachel Bowman-Cryer $75,000 for damages and $60,000 to her partner Laurel Bowman-Cryer.
"Respondents' claim they are not denying service because of complainants' sexual orientation but rather because they do not wish to participate in their same-sex wedding ceremony. The forum has already found there to be no distinction between the two," Avakian wrote in his order. "Further, to allow respondents, a for-profit business, to deny any services to people because of their protected class, would be tantamount to allowing legal separation of people based on their sexual orientation from at least some portion of the public marketplace." more >>
The day the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) handed down its decision compelling all the states to redefine marriage was considered among the darkest days in our history for some, while others danced and celebrated.
How will churches regard June 26, 2015?
City Harvest Church pastor Kong Hee has put up for sale a co-owned $10 million luxury penthouse in Sentosa Cove, Singapore, amid an ongoing trial concerning the possible misuse of over $19 million in church funds to finance his wife's music career. Kong has hit back against a report describing the penthouse, calling it "misleading and exaggerated."
Kong explained that his family has sold other properties as well to help pay their attorneys' fees.
"The property that my family and I have been living in is co-owned with another family. We have been living at this property with the co-owner's kind permission after we had to sell our properties in order to pay the legal expenses for the ongoing trial," the pastor said in a Facebook post, responding to a Straits Times article from earlier this week. more >>