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News roundup: IRS charged diet pills, romance novels, porn to govt cards

Published June 26, 2013 7:19 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

IRS officials charged diet pills, porn. Robles considers congressional bid. Lee's boys, Stewart's daughter head on missions.

Happy Wednesday. As if the IRS needed another scandal to deal with, an inspector general's report shows that agency employees used their taxpayer-funded, government credit cards to buy diet pills, romance novels and yes, even porn. While the transactions add up to only two-tenths of one percent, the findings suggest a bit of lax oversight by the IRS. No word on whether the agency plans to write off the porn as a business expense. [NBCNews]

Topping the news: The plans outlined by President Barack Obama to combat climate change will have a significant effect on Utah and its residents. Some criticized it as pandering to special interest groups while others welcomed his proposals as a step in the right direction for a state that has struggled with air pollution. [Trib] [DNews] Nationally: [NYTimes] [WaPost] [Politico]

-> Sen. Luz Robles is considering a run for Congress in Utah's 2nd District, arguing that the state's demographics are shifting her way. [UtahPolicy]

-> Congress is debating ways to keep student loan rates low but disagree sharply on how to do it, leaving students worried their interest may skyrocket. [Trib]

Tweet of the day: From @TonyFratto: "All of today's news becomes olds once #scotus decision is released."

Congratulations: To Kayla Stewart, daughter of Rep. Chris Stewart, and to James and John, twin sons of Sen. Mike Lee, who are all headed out on missions for the LDS Church today.

Spotted: Sen. Orrin Hatch on Tuesday at the Capitol Hill bar Irish Times, meeting on potential tax reform ideas at the place where the 1986 tax deal was hammered out. Hatch said he didn't order a beer: "You kidding? Listen, I'm sure the Lord never wanted me to start drinking. So I've never started."

In other news: Several Utah cities are considering banning fireworks as the Fourth of July approaches but are now restricted from doing so unless there's danger of a wildfire starting. [Trib]

-> Utah Department of Transportation has named a woman as head of one of its four divisions for the first time. Teri Newell will run Region 3, which covers Utah, Juab, Wasatch, Duchesne, Uintah and Daggett counties. [Trib]

-> Sen. Orrin Hatch slams a 'weak' President Barack Obama as the reason Russia won't just hand over the NSA leaker Edward Snowden. [Trib]

-> Pat Bagley's guest cartoonist Kevin "Kal" Kallaugher gives his take on the NRA. [Trib]

-> The Utah Transportation Commission unveiled a draft of its annual update to the State Transportation Improvement Program, which includes plans for three major road system updates that are scheduled to begin in 2017. [Trib]

-> The Deseret News discovers that former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. has started a Utah PAC, as reported by many outlets last month. [DNews]

-> Paul Rolly reports Salt Lake City is rethinking the bid process for a tennis pro after players raised concerns that the longtime pro didn't make the cut. [Trib]

-> Gov. Gary Herbert is still mulling choices for an opening on the State Records Committee. [Trib]

-> Since the Utah Clean Air Partnership morphed into a nonprofit organization earlier this month, questions have been raised as to whether conflict-of-interest issues could become a problem. [Trib]

Nationally: The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to strike down a key part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, releasing nine states, mostly in the South, from provisions that required them to seek advanced federal approval before they could change their election laws. [NYTimes] [WaPost] [Politico]

-> The Supreme Court's decision has provoked mixed reactions, from Obama's disappointment to Republican officials' celebration. [NYTimes] [Politico]

-> The Senate voted 97-1 to confirm President Barack Obama's nomination of Penny Pritzker as Commerce secretary. [NYTimes]

-> Although the Senate is due to pass the significant immigration reform bill this week, there is still no guarantee that the bill will get through the House. [NYTimes]

-> President Vladimir Putin told the United States that Edward Snowden is in Moscow, but as he remains in the transit area of Sheremetyevo International Airport, he is not technically on Russian soil. Putin is not willing to extradite Snowden at this point. [WaPost] [NYTimes]

Where are they?

Rep. Rob Bishop attends the weekly GOP conference meeting, meets with Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, sits down with the winner of the 2013 Congressional Art Competition Breanna Eldredge, joins the Republican Study Committee meeting, talks to Utah representatives of Questar and greets representatives from the Utah Association of Secondary School principals.

Gov. Gary Herbert preps for the coming Western Governors Association meeting, sits down with Japanese newspaper Nikkei, hits the Manufacuters CEO Roundtable and talks with Maine Gov. Paul LePage.

SLC Mayor Ralph Becker attends the National League of Cities board of directors meeting.

WVC Mayor Mike Winder speaks to officials from the Logan Kiwanis Club and meets with the West Valley Journal's Jennifer Martin.

President Barack Obama and his family fly to Dakar, Senegal to begin the president's tour of Africa.

Got a tip? A birthday, wedding or anniversary to announce? Email us at cornflakes@sltrib.com. If you haven't already, sign up for our weekday email and get this sent directly to your inbox. [Trib]

— Thomas Burr and Isobel MarkhamTwitter.com/thomaswburr and Twitter.com/i_markham