Weekly News Update


*President Barack Obama’s attorney general nominee came to Capitol Hill with one overriding message Wednesday: “I will be Loretta Lynch.” Translation: She won’t be Eric Holder — not the attorney general who has angered Republicans during a six-year contentious relationship in which lawmakers called for his resignation and the House held him in contempt. [Politico]

*Mitt Romney said Friday that he would not seek the Republican nomination for president in 2016. By not pursuing a third White House bid, Mr. Romney frees up scores of donors and operatives who had been awaiting his decision, and creates space for other potential center-right candidates such as Jeb Bush. [NY Times]

*Federal prosecutors are appealing a December court ruling they contend makes it harder to stop insider trading crimes. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara filed a petition asking the three-judge federal appeals court panel that issued the ruling to rehear the case his petition said “represents one of the most significant developments in insider trading law in a decade.” [USA Today]

*Speaker Sheldon Silver is being forced to take a leave of absence from his outside job with a top trial law firm. Weitz & Luxenberg released a statement announcing that Silver would no longer be doing work for the firm as he defends himself against charges that he used his powerful state position to drive business to the firm, receiving a portion of the profits in return. [NY Daily News]

*Federal investigators are looking into state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos’ sources of income, according to people familiar with the investigation. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is taking a hard look at Skelos’ ties to the real estate industry, among other areas of inquiry. [NBC New York]

*The United States Supreme Court last Friday agreed to decide a case on the constitutionality of the new combinations of drugs that some states are using to execute prisoners and that critics say cause intense suffering. [NY Times]

*The race to replace Sheldon Silver as Assembly Speaker appears to be narrowing to two main candidates. The front-runner is Assembly Member Carl Heastie who serves as the Bronx County Democratic Committee Chair and has the backing of Mayor Bill de Blasio. But is Heastie, Assembly Speaker favorite, ready to hold the New York City mantle? [Gotham Gazette]