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A Halliburton lobbyist giving money to the Green Party?

That's right, folks, you have now officially heard everything: A $1,000 donation to a local Pennsyslvania Green Party chapter came from Bill Wichterman, a senior lobbyist at Washington, D.C.'s Covington & Burling. Wichterman, a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), now lobbies for such corporate behemoths as Halliburton, Chevron and Unisys.

A Green Party candidate in the Pennsylvania Senate race can't win -- even if he's well-funded. In fact, it might even throw the race to the Republican incumbent, Sen. Rick Santorum. But that hasn't deterred Wichterman and other GOP power players from quietly supporting their secret dream: to see a Green Party senator emerge from the Pennyslvania hills.

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OK, we've done it. We've nailed it down: Every single contributor to the Pennsylvania Green Party Senate candidate is actually a conservative -- except for the candidate himself.

The Luzerne County Green Party raised $66,000 in the month of June in order to fund a voter signature drive. The Philly Inquirer reported yesterday that $40,000 came from supporters of Rick Santorum's campaign (or their housemates). Also yesterday, we confirmed that another $15,000 came from GOP donors and conservatives. Only three contributions, totaling $11,000, remained as possible legit donations.

Today, I confirmed that those came from GOP sources.

- The Green Party listed a $1,000 check from a Bill Wickerman of Covington & Burling. There is no such person. However, a Bill Wichterman works there. He's a Republican lobbyist who has also given to Santorum this campaign.

- James Holman, who in the past has supported GOP House candidate Howard Kaloogian, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), and Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), was incorrectly listed by the Greens as "James Howmen." He disclosed that he was an editor at the San Diego Reader; a James Holman is the publisher there.

- The Green Party disclosed that a "Franklin Schoneman" of Pottsville, Pa. gave $5,000. A "Franklin Schoeneman" of Pottsville has given $8,000 to Santorum so far this election.

That leaves only one contribution, for $30, as a legitimate donation from a Green Party supporter. That came from the candidate himself, Carl Romanelli. He made it to his own campaign fund, not the local Green Party.

Romanelli's latest FEC report shows his campaign currently has $17.20 on hand.

We reported yesterday that the Green Party candidate in the race for Rick Santorum's seat is almost completely funded by Republicans. The Greens used the Republican money to hire a private company to collect enough signatures.

Today there's news that the Pennsylvania Dems will be challenging the signatures. From the Hotline:

The chairman of the PA Dem party, T.J. Rooney, said today he'll challenge the signatures that Green Party candidate Carl J. Romanelli submitted to join the Senate ballot. A number of those signatures were collected by JSM, Inc.

Rooney: “This is a questionable and controversial firm that has a history of fraudulent activity where many signatures, and candidates in some instances, have been thrown off the ballot in various states. We will ensure that this doesn’t take place in Pennsylvania and that the integrity of the electoral process is safeguarded.”


As the Hotline points out, "the Green Party counts fewer than 20K members in PA; it took 67K signatures to earn a spot, and Romanelli turned in more than 90K."

A few weeks ago I wrote that the House Government Reform Committee had taken the uncommon step of sending a subpoena to the Department of Defense and Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to compel the release of documents related to abuses at Abu Ghraib, and a whistleblower who reported them.

The subpoena's deadline was July 14, and according to commitee spokespeople, the Pentagon made it in time.

The committee now has "a large stack" of papers, spokesman Robert White told me, as well as a list of documents DoD would not release. "We're still looking through all the documents to see what they gave us," White told me yesterday afternoon. "There are some things they told us they excluded, for a variety of reasons, and our lawyers and their lawyers arte still talking about that."

White wouldn't give me a timetable of when the public might learn what's in those files, or what kind of documents are missing.

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) big telecom bill has stalled on the matter of "net neutrality" -- it's just too controversial (and technical) to deal with at the height of a heated election season, Roll Call reports today.

But there may be another reason that the Senate's GOP leadership is holding back on the bill, the paper tells us: it's generating a ton of campaign donations to Republicans, especially helpful in tight races. Why decide an issue today, when you can make millions by putting it off?

As it happens, "net neutrality" is a dream issue for Senate fundraisers, as it pits two prodigiously deep-pocketed interests (the telecom giants on one side, the internet giants on the other) against each other. Wishing to influence the outcome, both sides are reportedly writing checks at a furious pace, fueling a "torrent of campaign cash" for the GOP:

Vulnerable lawmakers are loathe to cut off that spigot before they are in the clear.

“Another reason some don’t want it to happen is from the fundraising perspective,” a GOP Senate aide said. “Some in leadership are saying, ‘Let’s not vote until the election.’”


The piece names Sens. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Mike Dewine (R-OH) and Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), all of whom are in tight races, as senators wishing to avoid a controversial vote.

It's unfortunate that after receiving a federal grand jury subpoena, Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) declined to mention it to her Senate campaign staff.

But it appears she also declined to share it with the Speaker of the House -- and that's a violation of House rules.

As we've seen most recently in the case of Rep. Bob Ney's (R-OH) heavily-subpoenaed office (wham, bam, thank you and ma'am), any representative or staffer receiving a subpoena concerning any work-related issue must disclose it, and an announcement is subsequently published in the Congressional Record. It's called "House Rule VIII," and it's cited in just about every disclosure.

Yet a search of the Record turns up no mention of a subpoena for Harris.

"The rule's pretty clear," Andrew Herman, a Washington, D.C. defense lawyer who specializes in congressional ethics and investigations, told me. "I don't think this is a close question. She got subpoenaed, they're investigating, it's her obligation" to disclose the matter to the House leadership.

A spokesman in her Capitol Hill office referred my questions to Harris' Florida campaign staff. There, a spokeswoman took a message and promised to look into the matter. My call to the office of House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) wasn't immediately returned.

If Harris indeed violated Rule VIII, she likely faces little more than a slap on the wrist. Violations of House rules are handled by the House Ethics Committee, which hasn't shown a compulsion to do much enforcing of anything.

Good morning! Here's your steaming mug of Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL):

U.S. Senate candidate Katherine Harris received a grand jury subpoena from federal investigators and concealed the fact from top campaign advisers hired to help her deflect negative publicity, her former campaign manager has disclosed.

"Yes, there was a subpoena. She didn't tell us," said Glenn Hodas, Harris' third and most recent campaign manager. He said he learned of it in June while reviewing invoices from powerhouse Washington lawyer Benjamin J. Ginsberg and confronted his boss.


The story, from today's Tampa (Fla.) Tribune, notes a couple other new details in Harris' case:

- In addition to interviewing former Harris strategist Ed Rollins, the Feds have now also interviewed Fred Asbell, Harris' former chief of staff on Capitol Hill.

- Harris is no longer represented by her high-paid D.C. insider lawyer, Benjamin Ginsburg. There's no mention of who replaced him.

In Congress, the French Fries Are Back In an unannounced move, the House cafeteria has removed the terms "freedom fries" and "freedom toast" from its offerings, and has reverted to using the dishes' more common names, "french fries" and "french toast."

Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), who had implemented the change in 2003 in a fit of hollow but PR-friendly patriotism, refused to comment on the switch. "We don't have a comment for your story," a spokesman for Ney said.

Owing to his notably unpatriotic involvement in the Abramoff scandal, Ney was several months ago forced to step down from his post as chair of the House Administration Committee, which oversees the cafeteria menu, among other things. The change appears to have been made by Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), although he too declined comment.

An indictment for Ney is rumored to be mere weeks away, which could send him to prison. If that's the case, we wonder: will he rename it "the freedom house?"

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It's worse than we knew. Is the Green Party candidacy in the race for Rick Santorum's seat a wholly Republican sponsored affair?

As reported today by the AP and the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Green Party managed to get their candidate Carl Romanelli on the ballot with a costly petition drive, which was mostly funded by contributors who had also given to Rick Santorum's campaign. The party raised $66,000 for the effort, all of which they spent on a private company to collect signatures. TPMmuckraker was able to establish that at least $55,000 of that came from conservatives.

Virginia Davis, Santorum's spokeswoman, told the Inquirer that their office had encouraged the contributions. Why? Because a challenge from the left is seen as a liability for the Dem candidate, Bob Casey.

The $66,000 came from twenty donors, in contributions ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. None of the donors have a history of giving to the Green Party.

The Inquirer reported that $40,000 came from donors who either had given to Santorum's campaign or lived at the same address as a Santorum supporter. But even more than that came from Republicans. That raises the question whether any of the $66,000 - which comprises the total sum collected by both the local Green Party and Romanelli (with the exception of his $30 contribution) this election cycle - came from actual supporters of the Green Party.

But there's evidence that even those who didn't also give to Santorum's campaign are Republicans.

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