So here we are. Thanks to the great efforts of TPMm readers, TPMm's "Secret Hold" tally has worked its way down to six suspects.
They are: Sens. Robert Byrd (D-WV), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Ted Stevens (R-AK), and Robert Bennett (R-UT). (Our ongoing log of responses is here.)
A few notes.
-- Porkbusters has eliminated Sen. Byrd from their tally, but TPMm reader responses about Byrd conflict, and the pork-loving senior senator's spokesperson has so far declined to confirm or deny his boss' status. So Byrd stays on -- for the moment.
-- We previously had Sen. Bennett in the denial column, but Portbusters' N.Z. Bear pointed out to me that the denial ("Not that I know of") Bennett's office gave to GOP Progress' Liz Mair was equivocal. So he's been placed back into the unknown column.
-- Porkbusters still has Sens. Martinez, Rockefeller, and Carper as unknowns in their tally, but we have received denials for them, either directly or through readers. We received two separate reader accounts of getting straight denials from Martinez staffers, a reader got a denial from Rockefeller's spokeswoman, and I personally got a denial from Carper's spokesman. So they're off our unknown list. To be sure, we have requested comments from both Martinez's and Rockefeller's spokespeople. If they tell us otherwise, the senators will be bounced back on.
We've made multiple attempts to get comments from all of the remaining suspects. Only one of them, Sen. Crapo, has flatly refused to answer. We will continue to tomorrow and hope readers will join us.
And finally, a big thank you to TPMm readers from Justin and me.