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GOP Rep. Andy Ogles Seems to Have Kept $25,000 From a GoFundMe for a Child Burial Garden

The freshman Republican raised the money using a photo of his stillborn child.

Representative Andy Ogles close-up
Francis Chung/POLITICO/AP Images
Representative Andy Ogles

Tennessee Representative Andy Ogles appears to have kept money raised through a charitable GoFundMe event, making him the second freshman Republican member of Congress in hot water over dubious fundraising efforts.

An investigation by NewsChannel5 found that Ogles set up a GoFundMe in 2014 after his son was stillborn. Ogles said he wanted to build a garden where families could bury their stillborn children and sit on benches by the gravestones. The GoFundMe raised almost $25,000, but the garden was never built.

GoFundMe confirmed that Ogles received the money. He declined to answer any of NewsChannel5’s questions about what happened to the funds:

“Congressman, this doesn’t have to be a story if you just offer some evidence it went for a good cause,” we told him, as he got into a truck and slammed the door.

Ogles had told The Tennessean in 2015 that “burials are heavily regulated,” preventing them from buying all the plots necessary to start the garden. He promised that none of the money had been spent.

The funeral director of Williamson Memorial Funeral Home was quoted in the same story saying she planned to meet with the Ogles family to help organize their plans. But eight years later, she told NewsChannel5, the family never followed up with her.

One donor, speaking anonymously, said he asked Ogles what happened to the money and, when he didn’t get a clear answer, asked for a refund. This donor got his money back, but others said they were not given the same option.

Ogles is already under fire for appearing to lie about his background. Another NewsChannel5 investigation revealed that although the lawmaker says he studied “policy and economics,” his college transcript shows that Ogles majored in liberal studies and actually failed the one economics class he took.

The Tennessee Republican isn’t the first member of Congress seemingly making up parts of their background. One of George Santos’s many falsehoods is that in May 2016, the New York representative allegedly raised $3,000 for a homeless and disabled veteran’s service dog—only to take the money and run.

Santos also appears to have lied that his mother survived 9/11 (she was not even in the country), that his grandparents fled the Holocaust, and that four of his employees were killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting, among many, many other examples.

Florida Representative Anna Paulina Luna has also claimed Jewish heritage, but not only does she appear to have no ties to Judaism, her grandfather may have served in the Nazi army.

Instead of Fixing an Already Broken Industry, Government Approves Another Rail Merger

The merger of Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern comes as East Palestine, Ohio, is still recovering from a disastrous train derailment.

Whitney Curtis/Bloomberg/Getty Images
A Kansas City Southern railway locomotive passes through Kansas City, Missouri.

After a Norfolk Southern derailment crippled East Palestine, Ohio, and after Congress had its first hearing taking the company to task for industry corruption, federal regulators on Wednesday approved the first major U.S. corporate railroad merger in more than two decades: Canadian Pacific’s $31 billion acquisition of Kansas City Southern.

The merger combines the two smallest of the largest railroad companies in the country; the combined duo will now reduce the number of Class I freight railroads from seven down to six. Moreover, the merger of the two will create the only railroad that links Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

Previously, Canadian National railroad had attempted to buy Kansas City Southern for $33.6 billion, but the plan fell through after the Surface Transportation Board rejected part of the merger plan.

While workers and regulators aim to get a hold on a runaway industry driven by a practice known as precision scheduled railroading, or PSR, that has cut jobs and made trains bigger and bigger—thus making the whole industry less safe—it’s worth noting the relevance of this consolidation.

In 2011, billionaire investor Bill Ackman was undergoing a proxy battle with the railroad’s board of directors. He won and installed Hunter Harrison—a railway executive who pioneered PSR at the smaller Illinois Central Railroad—as president and CEO of Canadian Pacific. Once there, he continued his PSR regime, further spurring the industry to be more profit-driven and less safety-oriented.

Now one of the test subjects of PSR becomes another emblem of consolidation, which opponents worry will lead to further job losses and fewer consumer choices in an already consolidated industry.

While proponents say the merger will allow for more shipments and a stronger linkage between the three nations in North America, there’s surely reason for scrutiny. Existing debilitating conditions for workers and a status quo of over 1,000 derailments a year does not offer trust in the industry. A Surface Transportation Board analysis also found that the merger would increase the deployment of longer trains and more tank cars carrying hazardous materials, and even increase the already high risk of train derailments.

There’s also the matter of worker negotiations. Last year, the Biden administration imposed a rail contract on workers that left them with no paid sick leave. On the same day that the U.S. Senate rejected an amendment to add paid sick leave days to the negotiations, Canada announced it would offer 10 days of paid sick leave to workers in the federally regulated private sector—which includes Canadian Pacific. Still, some of their workers are in the United States; now, Canadian Pacific must align with Kansas City Southern on worker benefit and wage packages, negotiating with their respective workforces together.

That the companies will need to navigate aligning how they treat their workers points to the broader issue. While regulators approve such a consequential merger, we have yet to address the current problems that plague the industry and that will only be compounded by the merger: unequal and insufficient worker wages and protections, a too-high risk of derailments, weak classifications of how much regulation should be on trains carrying hazardous materials, and weak safety standards for all trains. It has been barely a month since the East Palestine derailment—and the government appears readier to approve more consolidation than it is to address what led to such a disaster at all.

Who Is Matthew Kacsmaryk, the Judge Who Could Pull Abortion Pills From the Market?

The Trump-appointed judge is set to issue a decision on mifepristone, one of two drugs used in medication abortion. Here’s what his track record reveals.

Protesters hold signs that read "Abortion is Health Care," "Defend Medication Abortion, Bigger than Roe," and "Not Your Uterus Not Your Decision."
Abortion rights advocates gather in front of the J. Marvin Jones Federal Building and Courthouse in Amarillo, Texas, on March 15. The Texas court is considering a national ban on mifepristone, a widely used abortion pill.

Texas-based Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk is poised to change the entire market for abortion pills.

Kacsmaryk, who was nominated by former President Donald Trump in 2019, is a known conservative and has a track record of viewing abortion unfavorably. He is currently hearing arguments over whether the Food and Drug Administration improperly approved mifepristone for widespread use more than 20 years ago. Reports from the Wednesday hearing thus far indicate that Kacsmaryk entertained disproven claims that the abortion medication is unsafe.

A coalition of anti-abortion groups and individuals filed the lawsuit in November specifically in Amarillo, Texas. Amarillo is a federal district with a single judge, meaning the plaintiffs could essentially guarantee that Kacsmaryk would hear their case, a practice known as “forum shopping.”

It seems unethical, but it’s a common practice on both sides of the political divide. During the 2017 Senate hearing for his current job, Kacsmaryk promised to be fair and said he didn’t believe judges should impose their religious beliefs on their rulings. But his actions both during and before his judicial career have abortion rights advocates bracing for one of the biggest blows since Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Kacsmaryk and his siblings were raised deeply Christian and taught from an early age that abortion was wrong. Over the years, he has published multiple essays arguing against the procedure, including in college, when he described abortion as “the federally sanctioned eradication of innocent human life.”

Kacsmaryk worked for several law firms in the early 2000s and at different divisions of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas from 2008 to 2013.

In 2014, he became the deputy general counsel at First Liberty Institute, a conservative legal group that has challenged anti-discrimination laws and birth control coverage. During his time there, Kacsmaryk represented the Christian owners of a bakery in Oregon who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

In commentary and legal briefs, he said same-sex marriage would send the U.S. “on a road to potential tyranny,” and the demand for “so-called marriage equality” was a “complete abuse of rule of law principles.”

Two months before Trump nominated him to the bench, Kacsmaryk met with administration budget officials at the White House to argue that businesses should be allowed to refuse to cover their employees’ contraception based on religious or moral beliefs.

Kacsmaryk also served as a trustee of Christian Homes and Family Services starting in 2014. The group works to dissuade people from getting abortions and instead carry the pregnancy to term and then give the child up for adoption to a Christian family.

Although Kacsmaryk left the organization’s board when he joined the bench in 2019, he and his wife are still donors.

Since assuming his current position, Kacsmaryk has ruled in several high-profile cases, including striking down Biden administration protections for transgender people and forcing thousands of asylum-seekers to return to Mexico while their cases are processed.

Most recently, in December, Kacsmaryk ruled that health clinics that provide birth control to minors violate Texas law and federal constitutional rights, shutting down a crucial channel for reproductive health care in the state.

If he rules that mifepristone was improperly approved, the case will likely be appealed. It could go all the way to the Supreme Court, but the nine justices have already made clear what they think about abortion rights. And it isn’t looking good.

San Francisco Board Open to Paying Black Residents $5 Million in Reparations

The city’s board of supervisors moved forward a draft plan with suggestions on how to compensate Black residents for centuries of slavery and systemic racism.

Shamann Walton seated with a mic before him
Santiago Mejia/San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images
Supervisor Shamann Walton

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously accepted a draft plan with suggestions on how to pay millions in reparations to the city’s Black residents, in an effort to atone for centuries of slavery and systemic racism.

The case for reparations has been made many times in recent years, particularly after the murder of George Floyd in 2020. California was the first state to establish a task force to determine how to compensate for the legacy of slavery and racist policies made after the practice of enslaving people was abolished, both of which have crippled Black people’s economic mobility.

San Francisco is the first major city to propose a reparations plan, and its draft, put forward in December, is “unmatched nationwide in its specificity and breadth,” as described by the Associated Press. Under the plan, suggestions include giving every eligible Black adult a lump payment of $5 million. Personal debt and tax burdens could be eliminated, annual incomes of at least $97,000 for 250 years could be guaranteed, and families in San Francisco could get a home for just $1. More than 100 recommendations are included in the draft proposal, though no specific plan has been formally accepted yet.

“Those of my constituents who lost their minds about this proposal, it’s not something we’re doing or we would do for other people,” San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman said during the five-hour hearing Tuesday night. “It’s something we would do for our future, for everybody’s collective future.”

The plan does not say how much the proposed payments would cost the city, nor is it clear how many San Franciscans would be eligible. Critics argue that it’s unreasonable to pay reparations in a city or state that never enslaved Black people. But advocates of the plan note that the majority of data and historical evidence shows that after slavery ended in 1865, policies and practices across the nation helped curb the rights of Black Americans.

The African American Reparations Advisory Committee, which proposed the plan, has until June to put forward a final report on reparations. Until then, the board of supervisors can approve, change, or reject any or all of the plan’s points.

The California state reparations committee is due to give a final report in July.

Other cities are toying with reparations too. The Chicago suburb of Evanston became the first city to pay for reparations, offering eligible residents funding for home repairs, down payments, and interest or late penalties for property. Experts say Evanston’s approach is a good start but has a ways to go in terms of achieving actual justice.

Leaders in Asheville, North Carolina, have also promised reparations through funding housing, business, and career programs for Black city residents. The City Council in Boston approved a reparations study task force in December.

Texas Representative Sheila Jackson Lee introduced a bill in 2021 to develop a reparations study task force. President Joe Biden has expressed support for studying reparations, but he has yet to back Lee’s bill, and the issue has yet to be seriously discussed at the federal level.

Oklahoma Republicans Stop Bill That Would’ve Banned Hitting Disabled Kids at School

Republican lawmakers read Bible verses and talked about the need for physical discipline, before voting against the bill.

Oklahoma State Capitol building
Getty Images
Oklahoma State Capitol building

A just society would not allow teachers to hit disabled kids at school. Sounds reasonable enough, right? Well, Oklahoma Republicans disagree.

On Tuesday, the Oklahoma House, in which Republicans have a supermajority, voted against House Bill 1028, which would have outlawed school district personnel from “using corporal punishment on any student identified with a disability in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.”

After lawmakers read Bible verses and talked about the need for physical discipline, the measure failed to proceed by a vote of 45–43 (though a narrow majority, the bill needed 51 votes to pass).

Current Oklahoma law only prohibits “deliberate infliction of physical pain” to discipline students with “the most significant cognitive disabilities.” Even then, schools can obtain permission from parents or guardians to supersede the ban.

“The rod and reproof give wisdom. But a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame,” said Republican Representative Jim Olsen. “So that would seem to endorse the use of corporal punishment. So, how would you reconcile this bill with scripture’s counsel on this matter?” he asked Representative John Talley, a proponent for the bill.

Olsen then asked, “On what basis would we automatically conclude a special needs child should not get corporal punishment?” as if there’s some dangerous risk in allowing children not to be hit by their teachers.

Olsen proceeded to nonblushingly cite a constituent call he apparently received from someone who said their “special needs” child “did not respond to positive motivation but that she responded very well to corporal punishment.”

According to his biography, Olsen himself serves as a Sunday school teacher.

Another Republican representative, Randy Randleman, actually wanted to get into the minutiae of the bill to make sure parents could still freely hit their kids.

“A child could have dyslexia, and then you couldn’t spank him, correct?” he said. “I would never spank an emotional problem, I would never spank a neurological problem,” he continued, in curious syntactical manner. “But if a parent has the choice, and they know that it can stop a misbehavior for behavioral problem, is this bill stopping that?”

Again, the bill’s bare-minimum ambition was just to outlaw school staff (not even all people) from being able to hit disabled children (not even all children).

“‘You can’t touch me.’ I hear that over and over. I don’t want to hear that in school,” Randleman said.

Randleman (supposedly a certified teacher, counselor, principal, psychometrist, school psychologist, and superintendent) has “a passion for children—his children, your children, Oklahoma’s children,” according to his biography.

“We need to help teachers understand how to discipline difficult children while keeping consistency in all classrooms,” he says in his bio.

Environmental Groups Sue Biden Administration to Stop the Invasive Willow Oil Drilling Project

“It’s clear that we can’t count on Biden to keep his word on confronting climate change and halting drilling on public lands.”

Protesters demand President Biden stop the Willow Project by unfurling a banner outside the White House on December 2, 2022.
Paul Morigi/Getty Images for This is Zero Hour

The people are not letting the government off the hook for breaking promises. Numerous conservation, environmental, local, and Indigenous advocacy groups have filed lawsuits against the government to stop Willow, a massive oil drilling project in Alaska set to pillage up to 600 million barrels of crude oil over 30 years.

A lawsuit filed Wednesday, led by environmental law organization Earthjustice, accuses the Biden administration of failing to consider alternatives that could have reduced greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impacts. The gargantuan oil drilling operation is projected to emit the equivalent of roughly two million cars’ worth of carbon pollution every year.

Biden’s approval of the Willow project comes after he repeatedly promised “no more drilling.”

“Now we have to step up and fight for these priceless wild places and the people and animals that depend on them. It’s clear that we can’t count on Biden to keep his word on confronting climate change and halting drilling on public lands,” said Kristen Monsell, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.

The lawsuit also charges the administration did not assess the full climate impact of the project, neglecting to consider additional pollution from future development once the project’s infrastructure is in place. Earthjustice cites ConocoPhillips’s description of the project to investors as the “next great Alaska hub,” and that as much as three billion barrels’ worth of oil may lie nearby for them to further plunder from inside the earth.

The lawsuit also charges the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service with failing to consider how the project directly violates their mandates of protecting surface resources and endangered species.

“Permitting Willow to go forward is green-lighting a carbon bomb. It would set back the climate fight and embolden an industry hell-bent on destroying the planet,” said Christy Goldfuss, chief policy impact officer for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The Wednesday lawsuit follows one filed the day before by another six groups, led by Trustees for Alaska, which leveled similar charges against the government. The lawsuits note that the now-approved project violates similar laws that led a court to void previous approval for the project signed off on by Trump.

“ConocoPhillips has made record profits year after year and hopes to continue to do so at the cost of our communities and future generations,” said Siqiñiq Maupin, executive director of Sovereign Inupiat for a Living Arctic. “The true cost of Willow is a future where we lose our traditional practices and diet because of the pollution and destruction to land, water, and climate caused by the fossil fuel industry’s unending greed.”

Lindsey Graham Suggests Shooting Down Russian Fighter Jets After U.S. Drone Downed

“What would Ronald Reagan do right now?” the Republican senator asked on Fox News.

Senator Lindsey Graham
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Senator Lindsey Graham thinks the best response to a Russian plane allegedly colliding with an American drone is to go on the offensive, despite the West trying for more than a year to avoid outright conflict with Moscow.

“We should hold [Russia] accountable and say that if you ever get near another U.S. asset flying in international waters, your airplane would be shot down,” Graham told Fox News host Sean Hannity Tuesday night.

Tensions rose Tuesday after a Russian jet was accused of clipping an unmanned U.S. drone over the Black Sea. Washington accused Moscow of being reckless and unprofessional. Russia has denied that its plane was involved and demanded the United States cease flights near its borders.

Graham has been unwavering about the need to oppose Russia and help Ukraine fend off Moscow’s invasion—often calling for greater escalation. Last year, Graham suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin should be assassinated in order to end the conflict.

Earlier Tuesday, Graham insisted on Twitter that aiding Kyiv should be an American “priority” and compared Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempt to seize Ukraine to Hitler’s rise to power.

The South Carolina lawmaker was also one of just three senators (and the only Republican in the group) who visited Ukraine in January, when the South Carolina lawmaker urged the U.S. to send tanks to Kyiv.

But throughout the entirety of Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has now gone on for more than a year, Western countries have been clear that they want to avoid direct conflict with Moscow. Part of the reason why the U.S. was so hesitant to send Kyiv tanks in the first place was because Russia has repeatedly warned that providing tanks to Ukraine would be seen as a major provocation.

Putin also warned in September he would use nuclear weapons in retaliation if “the territorial integrity of our country is threatened.”

Tennessee Is Willing to Give Up Nearly $1.3 Billion in Funding for This Anti-Trans Bill

The Republican legislature’s commitment to knocking down trans rights is astonishing.

Drone view of Tennessee state Capitol
Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Tennessee Republicans are continuing the assault on trans people’s rights, this time by arguing they shouldn’t be able to have their driver’s licenses reflect who they are.

On Monday, Tennessee state Senate Republicans passed a bill that would define “sex” in the state code as one’s gender assigned at birth.

Senate Bill 1440 bill defines evidence of a person’s biological sex as included, but not limited to, “a government-issued identification document that accurately reflects a person’s sex listed on the person’s original birth certificate.” Consequently, people would not be able to stray away from that original documentation; trans people would not be able to modify their driver’s licenses or other government-issued IDs to match their identity.

Beyond being another hateful iteration of the conservative assault on trans people’s rights, the bill could have the state of Tennessee losing buckets of money as the legislation would contradict federal guidelines. If it passes the bill, Tennessee could lose $1.2 billion worth of federal education funding, and another $750,000 of federal grants dedicated towards supporting women and children. Other state and local government entities could be impacted as well.

Even with that potentially astronomical loss of funding, the bill passed the Senate 27-6, exhibiting the relentless urge Republicans have to target trans people at any cost.

“This is their latest cruel attempt to stigmatize, marginalize, and erase the LGBTQ+ community, particularly transgender Tennesseans,” said Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Let’s be clear: the goal of this bill is to exclude the LGBTQ+ community from nondiscrimination protections in the state of Tennessee and to perpetuate a false narrative of who transgender people are.”

Having a driver’s license or birth certificate match one’s identity would naturally be significant personally to transgender people—but it would also affirm their identity in a legal sense, and shield them from further discrimination and harassment.

Since 2015, Tennessee has enacted 14 anti-LGBTQ laws, according to the Human Rights Coalition—including a bill signed this month by Governor Bill Lee that prevents transgender youth from accessing affirming medical care.

The proposed Tennessee legislation is part of a broader assault that has led to over 100 anti-trans health care bills being introduced throughout the country.

Senate Republicans Rebuke DeSantis for Saying Ukraine Is Not a Vital U.S. Interest

“I don’t know what he’s trying to do. Obviously, he doesn’t deal with foreign policy every day as governor.”

Senator Lindsey Graham speaks in the foreground while pointing a finger. Senator John Cornyn is seated beside him in the background.
Win McNamee/Getty Images
Senators Lindsey Graham and John Cornyn

Senate Republicans rebuked Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Tuesday for saying that continuing to aid Ukraine to fight off the Russian invasion was not in the United States’ “vital national interests.”

The Republican Party has grown more divided in recent months over how long the U.S. should continue to send aid to Kyiv—and how much it should send. DeSantis, who is rumored to be considering a presidential run in 2024, made clear on which side of the debate he stands.

“While the U.S. has many vital national interests…becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them,” DeSantis said in response to a questionnaire from Fox News host Tucker Carlson Monday night.

Several prominent members of the Senate GOP were quick to condemn DeSantis’s remarks. Fellow Floridian Marco Rubio, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, argued that the U.S. does “have an interest” in assisting Ukraine because it provides another opportunity to be tougher on China.

“Well, it’s not a territorial dispute in the sense that any more than it would be a territorial dispute if the United States decided that it wanted to invade Canada or take over the Bahamas,” Rubio told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday. “Just because someone claims something doesn’t mean it belongs to them.”

“I don’t know what he’s trying to do,” Rubio added. “Obviously, he doesn’t deal with foreign policy every day as governor.”

Rubio has been outspoken about continuing aid for Ukraine, but he appeared to flag in December, saying constituents were likely wondering why the U.S. was “spending all this money on someone else’s war.” He also said it would be tough to continue getting all the votes necessary for the huge tranches of aid funds, implying that there could be a time limit on how much longer U.S. aid would continue.

Texas Senator John Cornyn said he was “disturbed” by DeSantis’s stance. “I hope he feels like he doesn’t need to take that Tucker Carlson line to be competitive in the primary,” Cornyn told reporters. “It’s important for us to continue to support Ukrainians for our own security.”

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham didn’t mention DeSantis by name, but he was adamant on Twitter that “those who believe that Russia’s unprovoked and barbaric invasion of Ukraine is not a priority for the United States… are missing a lot.”

Both Cornyn and Graham have been unwavering in their support for continuing Ukraine aid. Graham was one of three senators (and the only Republican in the group) who visited Ukraine in January, during which the South Carolina lawmaker urged the U.S. to send tanks to Kyiv.

Graham and Cornyn also both compared stopping Ukrainian aid to countries that failed to intervene during Hitler’s rise to power.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also supports continued aid for Ukraine, one of the few things on which he and his Democratic counterpart Chuck Schumer agree.

Presidential candidate Nikki Haley slammed DeSantis and said he was “copying” Donald Trump. Haley, who served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, noted that she had told Carlson aiding Ukraine was in U.S. interests.

But some Republicans, mostly in the House of Representatives, are beginning to lose patience with how much aid the U.S. is sending to Kyiv. Representative Matt Gaetz introduced the “Ukraine Fatigue Resolution” in February, which called to end all U.S. military and financial aid to Ukraine. The bill has 10 co-sponsors but is unlikely to pass, even though Speaker Kevin McCarthy has also called to cut back on aid.

What Is Andrew Cuomo Thinking With the Launch of a “Progressives for Israel” Group?

This is a bizarre move by the disgraced former New York governor.

Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images

While some half a million Israelis protest the country’s authoritarian escalation, and while Israel has killed Palestinians at a rate of nearly one every day so far in 2023, disgraced former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced he is launching an organization called “Progressives for Israel.”

“You can’t denounce antisemitism, but waver on Israel’s right to exist and defend itself,” said Cuomo in his announcement Monday, linking criticism of Israel to antisemitism. Some view such an equation as antisemitic, as it treats Jews as monolithic in their stances on Israel as a state.

“I’m starting an organization called Progressives for Israel. And I’m going to call the question for Democrats,” Cuomo continued. “Do you stand with Israel, or do you stand against Israel? Because silence is not an option.”

Cuomo’s challenge coincides with waves of protesters both inside and outside of Israel speaking out against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to weaken the judiciary’s ability to check the power of other government branches—giving Netanyahu’s far-right coalition greater ability to oppress Palestinians, and help the prime minister weasel out of his own corruption trials.

Cuomo’s puzzling move comes as he reportedly considers taking on Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in the 2024 New York Senate primary—which is all the more puzzling given his recent track record.

Cuomo resigned from the governor’s office in 2021 while embroiled in scandal. At least 11 women accused the governor of sexually harassing them during his time in office. Cuomo and his aides also willfully undercounted and concealed nursing home Covid-19 death numbers. He attempted to shield political donors who were hospital and nursing home executives from lawsuits related to Covid. And he allegedly granted special Covid test access during the early phases of the pandemic to family members and other well-connected figures.

Cuomo wrote a memoir amid it all entitled American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the Covid-19 Pandemic. Cuomo was then accused of using his and his employees’ taxpayer-funded time to work on the book that secured him a $5.1 million deal.

When all was said and done, even President Biden called on Cuomo to resign after the reports of the 11 accusers came out. Cuomo’s brother and CNN anchor Chris was fired months later, amid an inquiry into his own sexual harassment accusations, and whether he used his television platform to help his governor brother stave off his own accusations.

Even after all the damage Governor Cuomo left in his wake, he announced his new organization. It’s not clear what exactly is progressive about tying concern for the welfare and safety of Jewish people to unequivocal support for a state that acts as an occupying force, and which even many of its own citizens deem out of control. What is clear is how cynical the move is, if it is indeed a warm-up to an attempt at a political comeback.

“God isn’t finished with me yet,” Cuomo proclaimed last year in his first public appearance after resigning in 2021. “I have many options in life and I’m open to all of them,” he said during a speech in which he railed against “cancel culture” and the media for apparently being the reason he and his brother faced consequences for their own actions. “Let’s make some trouble.”

It seems like the trouble has begun.