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

Yesterday, we reported on the Copeland Lowery lobbying firms' remarkable success in winning earmarks for California State University, San Bernadino (CSU-SB).

One of the more entertaining emails we came across in reviewing the school's correspondence with their lobbyists was an exchange between a school official and Jeff Shockey, the firm's star lobbyist who's now under federal investigation as part of the probe into the firm's relationship with Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA).

Last fall, Copley News Service's Jerry Kammer -- who won a Pulitzer Prize for helping expose the Duke Cunningham scandal -- was sniffing around Shockey, his firm and its clients.

"This guy is really focusing in on my relationship with the university -- I can't quite figure it out," Shockey wrote to his university contact about Kammer.

"He does not understand eamarks," the school official moodily replied, "nor like them."

Three weeks later, Kammer broke the Lewis scandal with a raft of stories on Lewis and his lobbyist buddy Bill Lowery. Today, Lewis, Lowery and Shockey count themselves among the subjects of the spreading federal investigation into congressional corruption -- which began with, and has been buoyed by, Kammer's reporting.

Who doesn't understand the earmark process?

Stop it, dad, you're embarrassing me:

The 81-year-old father of U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman [(R-MN)] was cited for lewd conduct and indecent exposure Tuesday for allegedly having sex in a vehicle with a 38-year-old woman, according to a police report.

Police responded to a call early Tuesday evening and arrested Norman Bertram Coleman Sr. and the woman, Patrizia Marie Schrag of St. Paul, outside a pizza restaurant on the eastern edge of downtown St. Paul.

. . .

Sen. Coleman has often referred to his father, a veteran of the Normandy invasion and the Battle of the Bulge and a former businessman, as one of his personal heroes.

Looks like the Maryland Dems are planning to have a field day with TPMmuckraker's story yesterday about Michael "Scarlet Letter" Steele. Steele tried to double back on his disloyalty by claiming that his comments to The Washington Post's Dana Milbank were off the record.

Accused of a journalistic sin, Milbank was quite happy to send us over an email from Steele's flack proving that the comments were made on background, not off the record.

Here's a press release the Maryland Dems sent out earlier today:

Maryland Democratic Party Obtained Secret Email Between Steele Campaign and Washington Post That Discussed Quotes BEFORE Story Was Published

Steele LIED THROUGH HIS TEETH About “Off the Record” Interview; Whole Incident is Naked Political Stunt

TODAY Maryland Democratic Party Chair Terry Lierman to Release Secret Email at 2pm Press Conference in Baltimore

Who: Maryland Democratic Party Chair Terry Lierman

What: Lierman releases Steele campaign email to Washington Post revealing that Steele knew the “anonymous” story would be published and the campaign approved the use of those quotes in advance. This proves Steele and his campaign lied and that the whole incident has been a pre-meditated political stunt.

When: 2pm TODAY

Where: On top of Federal Hill, Federal Hill Park, Baltimore

The Bradenton (Fla.) Herald reports:

Katherine Harris' former communications director has joined the campaign of one of her Republican opponents for the U.S. Senate, LeRoy Collins Jr.

A bipartisan panel of House Intelligence Committee members has found fault with the Bush administration's efforts to improve intelligence collection, analysis and sharing, according to an unreleased report that CQ's Tim Starks somehow got his mitts on a day before its scheduled release:

According to a source who would discuss the subcommittee’s findings, the report faults the administration’s progress in most areas, including its workings with Congress; the establishment of a civil liberties board; and its processing of security clearances to hire new human intelligence officers.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence gets the blame for many of the delays and is faulted for a scattershot approach to its mission rather than focusing in on top priorities such as information sharing.


Starks gently points out that the intelligence committee chair, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), has clashed with Bush's ODNI over the contentious departure of his pal, former Congressman Porter Goss (R-FL), from the top CIA spot a few months ago.

More difficult revelations about Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), the Appropriations Committee chairman.

In late 2002, Lewis delivered an $11,000 pay cut for one of his top aides -- and a personal family friend. Normally, such a move would be a stinging, painful rebuke -- but not in this case.

Instead, the pay cut allowed the aide, Letitia White, to narrowly dodge a law which would have barred her from lobbying Lewis for one year after leaving, Roll Call reports today. And lobbying Lewis is precisely what she did, just a few months later.

White is now under federal investigation, the New York Times reported in June.

Read More →

DNC Chief Stops in Florida to Revive Ailing Harris Campaign DNC chairman Howard Dean gave a fiery speech in Florida yesterday, with at least one zinger aimed at Rep. Katherine Harris that's sure to rile up her weary supporters in the GOP base. "This is not Russia and she is not Stalin," Dean told a crowd of Democratic supporters Wednesday, comparing "Pink Sugar" herself to the infamous autocratic Soviet leader who was responsible for the deaths of millions.

That line gave the Harris campaign what's sure to have been a refreshing change of pace -- a chance to comment on how crazy someone else is. "The people of Florida know that Congresswoman Harris will stand for what is right and not respond in kind to such scurrilous attacks," Jennifer Marks told reporters, responding to Dean's scurrilous attack.

Read More →

What a pathetic climax to the days-long controversy following Dana Milbank's column about the "Scarlet Letter" Republican.

As everyone now knows, Milbank wrote a column Tuesday, relating the comments of an anonymous Republican carping about the burden of being a GOPer during Bush's second term. All day Tuesday, bloggers and pundits took turns guessing at the mystery Republican's identity. Finally, on Tuesday afternoon, Michael Steele admitted to ABC News that it was him.

And now, he takes it all back. Bush is his "homeboy," he said during a radio interview this morning. Whereas before (when he was under the guise of an anonymous "GOP Senate candidate") he said that "to be honest," he probably wouldn't want Bush campaigning with him, now he says that "If the president wanted to come and help me in Maryland, he is more than welcome, because I'm not going to turn my back on a friend."

But it gets even better.

Backpedaling furiously, Steele also said this morning that the interview with Milbank and other reporters was supposed to be off the record. That would mean that Milbank wasn't supposed to quote his remarks, anonymously or otherwise.

But it turns out that's just not true. Steele appears to be lying through his teeth. As Milbank clearly stated in his piece, Steele spoke to reporters "under the condition that he be identified only as a GOP Senate candidate."

This afternoon I contacted Milbank to find out what happened and he confirmed that the meeting, done over lunch, was not off the record. "The luncheon was one in a regular series, and they are all on background. It was announced at the start of the lunch that this one, too, was on background," he said.

As proof, Milbank forwarded me an email from Steele's flak Doug Heye, who in response to an email from Milbank checking whether he could run certain quotes from Steele in his story, responded, "since it was a backgrounder, if there are specific quotes you'd like to use, can you email them to me so I could sign off?"

So case closed.

Late Update: Here's the email as forwarded to me by Milbank (I've redacted their email addresses):

From: "Doug Heye" To: "Dana Milbank" cc: Subject: RE: Reconsider? 07/24/2006 03:38 PM

Won't waste your time, and know deadlines are tight.

I'd probably be fine with those you sent, but since it was a backgrounder, if there are specific quotes you'd like to use, can you email them to me so I could sign off?

I can hold off on signing off for other press for the time being, as well.

With the help of numerous readers, the Starbucks Web site and a Washington, D.C.-area barista, we've cracked the code of Rep. Katherine Harris' (R-FL) coffee order -- "Triple Venti, no fat, no foam, extra hot, with pink sugar."

Triple Venti : Likely a latte with three shots of espresso in it. A Starbucks "venti" latte and its smaller cousin, the "grande" latte, both have two shots of espresso; thus a "triple" would add another shot.

No Fat: Skim milk. Should properly be ordered as "non-fat," according to Starbucks. Reporter may have mis-heard.

No Foam: Just what it means. (I should note that some traditionalists believe (rightly, I posit) that a latte should have no foam at all, making this qualifier redundant. Starbucks baristas, however, are ordered to include a "quarter-inch" of foam on their latte creations "to create a delicate first impression," according to the company Web site.)

Extra Hot: I'm not sure Starbucks really has an extra-hot coffee; I believe their machines -- and corporate lawyers -- regulate their temperatures precisely and absolutely. My guess is, baristas hear this and go "uh-huh," because it's easier than fighting with a customer. Especially if, well, the customer terrifies you.

with Pink Sugar: "A fancy way to say Sweet and Low," as one reader commented.

You can say a lot of things, pardner. But you can't say that's a quitter's drink. That's an in-it-to-win-it special.

Late Update: Starbucks does indeed make "extra-hot" lattes for those who request one, according to a company spokesman. "[T]hey will receive a beverage at approximately 180 degrees. Starbucks milk-based beverages are normally prepared at temperatures between 150-170 degrees," Alan Hilowitz told me in an email.

Reader HD, a barista, chimes in: "We call drinks like hers 'princess drinks' at my store."

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) released a final draft of his anti-signing-statement bill this afternoon -- yes, the one that other GOP senators are already saying they won't support.

Full text after the jump. Legal eagles, what do you think?

Update: We've uploaded the bill as a pdf here.

Read More →

LiveWire