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

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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The medium is the message. From the Wall Street Journal (subs. req.):

For a decade, the daily White House news briefing has been televised. Now it is becoming television.

Earlier this year, Fox News talk show host Tony Snow was hired as press secretary. Next up: a renovation of the briefing room, likely with a video wall that could display everything from "flags waving in the breeze [to] detailed charts and graphs," according to a senior White House official working on the project. For TV viewers, the video feed could be the sole on-screen image, or could share the space with the speaker.

White House officials say they are weighing how -- and how often -- to use the video capability. But the new technology could help transform White House briefings -- midday exchanges with reporters in a utilitarian setting -- into more interesting viewing. Both the planned video capabilities and Mr. Snow's hiring appear to be part of a subtle but sweeping effort by administration officials to deliver their message directly to the public, particularly through video....

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What is memory? What is it to remember?

Those are questions that Scooter Libby's lawyers want jurors to be asking along with "Did Libby lie to the FBI and a federal grand jury?"

Libby's lawyers have long signalled that they want to call a memory expert at his trial in order to explain how he might have misremembered details of certain conversations. "The crux of Libby's defense," the AP writes, "will be that he was too preoccupied with national security "matters of life and death" and that he could have easily confused "snippets of conversations" he had with reporters from Time magazine, NBC and the New York Times." Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald charges (pdf) that he lied about those conversations concerning CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Yesterday, Libby submitted a summary of the expert's testimony. It's a brief treatise on the vagaries of memory... amounting to the conclusion that sometimes people forget or misremember things. We've posted it here in our Document Collection. An example:

At the encoding phase of memory ... events and information are not stored in a literal way, but rather are interpreted and then stored in memory with respect to existing memories, expecations, schemas and goals. During the retention interval ... stored memories do not tend to remain in the as-encoded state, but rather are malleable. Existing memory representations are influenced and modified by subsequent and prior related events and information. Finally, .... retrieved memories are reconstructions, rather than exact reproductions of past events.


Libby's lawyers say jurors need reminding of the unreliability of memory. The judge, who's signalled in the past that he's skeptical of the testimony's relevance, will ultimately rule whether the expert may testify.

CQPolitics.com asked its five-member board of advisers to weigh in on the success or failure of the 109th Congress, and how its record will affect the upcoming midterm elections.

Big surprise, only one mentioned the unfolding congressional scandals. Of the five professional analysts -- David P. Rebovich, Lawrence Jacobs, Charles S. Bullock III, Susan A. MacManus and Bruce E. Cain -- only Cain brought up the issue of corruption and lobbying reform:

The absence of lobbying reform is no plus for the Republicans, but apparently not a minus so far either. Perhaps a few more revelations and indictments will help generalize the issue, but until then, the effects of the Abramoff scandal will be isolated to specific races, such as Katherine Harris, Ralph Reed, Conrad Burns etc.


We're mad as hell -- but we're happy to take it a little more?

Lawsuit Seeks to Void CA-50 Busby-Bilbray Results "A lawsuit filed yesterday asks a judge to toss out results of the June 6 special election that saw Republican Brian Bilbray defeat Democrat Francine Busby to finish the remaining term of disgraced former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham. The lawsuit, filed at Superior Court in downtown San Diego by lawyer Paul Lehto of Everett, Wash., also asks for a recount of all ballots cast in the election in the 50th Congressional District.

"Lehto says there is no way to ensure that the voting machines used by county elections officials were not tampered with, which Registrar of Voters Mikel Haas vigorously denied. " (SD Union-Tribune)

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What's the charge, officer?

Earlier, I reported findings from an unreleased draft of a document written by Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI) of the House Judiciary Committee. The document summarized a much lengthier report, also under wraps, detailing Bush administration transgressions.

We've posted the draft copy we obtained in the TPM Document Collection; you can read it for yourself by clicking here.

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