They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

If Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) woke up this morning wondering if his choice to quit his congressional race was the right thing to do, Roll Call's Paul Kane confirmed it for him.

On top of Ney's other Abramoff-related worries, Justice Department prosecutors are now working to see if they can bust Ney on false statements charges, Kane reports (sub. req.). The prosecutors are compiling evidence that Ney lied to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. That's a felony, and a charge for which another Abramoff casualty, David Safavian, was convicted in June.

Ney met with representatives of the Texas Tigua tribe, an Abramoff client, in August of 2002. They're pictured here (Ney is sunburned from the recent golf junket to Scotland, which Abramoff arranged and funded with his clients' money):

Despite ample evidence that Ney had met with the tribe and promised to slip a provision into the Help America Vote Act that would reopen the tribe's casino, Ney told Senate investigators that he'd never heard of the Tigua.

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Another ignominious end for a member of the Bush Administration.

The director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives finally announced his resignation Friday, just ahead of revelations that he went seriously overboard planning his agency's new headquarters.

As the Washington Post reports today, the Justice Department's Inspector General is expected to release its findings from a six-month probe of Carl J. Truscott's involvement in the new HQ project.

It sounds like Truscott became a little tired of ATF business and became obsessed with creating The Ultimate Director's Suite:

Sources familiar with the project told The Washington Post earlier this year that Truscott planned to buy, among other things, nearly $300,000 in extras for the new director's suite, including a $65,000 conference table and more than $100,000 worth of hardwood floors, custom trim and other items.

These sources described Truscott as overly focused on the building's details, from soap dishes to tile colors, and said he wasted valuable time with innumerable project meetings and field trips to the site.

And you can add to that a rather cute abuse of power -- marshaling the resources of the federal government for a homework assignment:

Justice investigators have also questioned ATF employees ... about allegations that ATF staff members helped assemble a school video report for a young relative of Truscott's, according to officials interviewed in the probe who declined to be identified for fear of retaliation.

U.S. Threatens to Sue Maine over NSA Probe "The Bush administration is threatening to sue if Maine regulators decide to investigate whether Verizon Communications illegally turned over customer information to the National Security Agency.

"Verizon customers in Maine have asked the state's Public Utilities Commission to investigate whether the telecom giant violated privacy laws by cooperating with a domestic surveillance program. The PUC is expected to decide Monday whether to open such a probe. . . .

"In Vermont, where state officials are considering whether to open an investigation of Verizon and AT&T, the Justice Department has come down against the idea. The department has filed lawsuits to prevent the disclosure of information in New Jersey and Missouri."

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Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) is the latest victim of the Abramoff scandal: He's quitting his tough re-election race, he says, but holding on to his congressional office through the end of his term. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports:

Entangled in the scandals involving former Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, embattled U.S. Rep. Robert Ney is ending his re-election bid.

Although Ney had vowed to stay in the race even if he is indicted, the Ohio Republican decided last week to bow out. He said he has informed House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, of the decision. . . .

Ney said he would not step down before his term expires in December. "I made a commitment to my constituents, and I intend to do my job until my last day in office," he said.

It's disheartening to consider this prospect, but two recent articles seem to raise the possibility that the Pentagon's Office of Inspector General has a shifting policy on what they tell the public.

Standard one:

A forthcoming report from the Pentagon's inspector general will address the question of whether military commanders intentionally misled the [9-11] commission, said the spokesman, Lt. Col. Brian Maka.

But "there is nothing that indicates the information provided to the commission was knowingly false," Maka said. (Washington Post, "Officials Didn't Lie to Sept. 11 Panel, Pentagon Says," 8/6/06)

Standard two:
[A]lthough several other Defense Department public affairs personnel and a congressional press aide have said in the past that an investigation into. . . [Duke] Cunningham-linked contracts was being conducted, the inspector general's spokesman said Thursday that “as a matter of policy, we do not confirm or deny the existence of on-going investigations.”

“If one exists, it would be improper to comment,” said Army Lt. Col. Brian Maka. “Obviously, if one does not exist, there would be nothing to say.” (San Deigo Union-Tribune, "Still No Pentagon Action on Cunningham-Linked Contracts," 8/4/06)

I guess I know who I'm calling Monday morning.

Brent Wilkes, a.k.a. "Co-conspirator #1" -- who allegedly bribed Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham -- has been silent since the Cunningham scandal broke. Now, he has given his first on-the-record interview to the New York Times:

Mr. Wilkes had set up separate meetings with the lawmakers hoping to win a government contract, and he planned to punctuate each pitch with a campaign donation. But his hometown congressman, Representative Bill Lowery of San Diego, a Republican, told him that presenting the checks during the sessions was not how things were done, Mr. Wilkes recalled.

Instead, Mr. Wilkes said, Mr. Lowery taught him the right way to do it: hand over the envelope in the hallway outside the suite, at least a few feet away.

That was the beginning of a career built on what Mr. Wilkes calls “transactional lobbying,” which made him a rich man but also landed him in the middle of a criminal investigation.

The farce continues. From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Six staffers on Sen. Rick Santorum's campaign - including an intern who tailed Democratic candidate Bob Casey Jr. in a duck costume - collected voter signatures to help place the Green Party on the fall ballot.

The intern, petitions show, collected signatures from voters in five counties in one day.

T.J. Rooney, the state Democratic Party chairman, and other Democrats disclosed details of the petition drive that they said offered further evidence of involvement from Santorum supporters to get Carl Romanelli, the Green Party's Senate candidate, on the ballot. Not only did Santorum aides help collect signatures for Romanelli, but Republicans and Santorum supporters put more than $60,000 into the petition drive.

It's examples such as the apparent one-person, five-county petition tour - plus unregistered voters, multiple signatures by the same person, and fake names - that could form the basis of a challenge, Rooney said. John Michael Glick - the Santorum intern who has worn a duck costume to hound Casey for "ducking" issues - appeared to have collected signatures in Beaver, Washington, Fayette, Juniata, and Schuylkill Counties, Rooney said.

A dispatch from the McClatchy Newspapers Washington Bureau:

Former White House adviser Claude Allen tearfully pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge Friday, telling a Montgomery County judge that he lost his bearings after working 14-hour days and getting little sleep in the "tumultuous time" after Hurricane Katrina.

"Something did go very wrong," said Allen, who began crying during his remarks to the court. "I failed to restrain myself ... I did not appreciate what was going on."

That's right, folks: Katrina made him shoplift. On twenty-five separate occasions.

The judge gave Allen two years' criminal probation, 40 hours of community service, and $1350 in fines. If he stays out of trouble for the length of his probation, the conviction will be removed from his criminal record.

Over at TPMCafe, Greg Sargent has been trying to get to the bottom of the Connecticut Heckler kerfuffle. Who is this man, Richard F. Goodstein, who came all the way from Washington, D.C., leaving a lucrative lobby practice on hold so he could sit in a diner, munch a hamburger, and heckle progressive Democratic challenger Ned Lamont for the benefit of assembled reporters and photographers?

It turns out, this recent flap isn't the first time Goodstein's been in hot water. Way back in 1983, Goodstein -- then a lawyer for the doomed Mondale for President campaign -- "surreptitiously took" a notebook from a Philadelphia office in order to hide the nature of the campaign's scheme to use rather flimsy outside organizations to evade fundraising laws. The action was disclosed in a 1985 book and reported in the Washington Post. (The notebook was returned soon after Goodstein took it, the paper reported; the FEC discovered the ruse, and Mondale -- after losing 49 states to Ronald Reagan -- paid over $379,000 in fines.)

As Goodstein told the Washington Post (article not online) at the time of its article on the topic: "It was the middle of a campaign and the stakes were high. . . It seemed to be the thing to do at the moment."

Since the 1980s, Goodstein has worked as a lobbyist specializing in waste issues.

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Over at TPMCafe, Greg Sargent has been tracking the brewing kerfuffle involving a Lieberman-friendly D.C. lobbyist who popped up at a Ned Lamont event to heckle the progressive challenger, have his picture taken, and give pithy quotes to reporters.

Sargent got the lobbyist, Richard F. Goodstein, on his cell phone -- some fun ensues. Unfortunately, he didn't help Greg figure out what he was doing up there, who was paying for him to be there, and if he was coordinating his efforts with the Lieberman campaign.