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

From The Washington Post:

House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) met with Ney last week to urge him to step aside, reminding him that with a son in college and a daughter nearing college age, he will need money, according to several congressional Republican aides. If he lost his House seat for the party, Boehner is said to have cautioned, Ney could not expect a lucrative career on K Street to pay those tuition bills, along with the hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees piling up.

"Ultimately this decision came down to my family. I must think of them first, and I can no longer put them through this ordeal," Ney said in a one-paragraph statement.

From the NBC affiliate in Ft. Myers, Fla.:

[At a local Republican meeting, Will] McBride [Harris' leading opponent in the GOP primary] became upset after a Harris supporter posed a particular question to him that he felt was over the line.

"She asked me why I changed my name to McBride to hide the fact that I was Hispanic," said McBride. "I've been William Richard McBride my whole life. I'm proud of my Hispanic culture."

But what may have concerned him more than the question itself was the person he believes was behind it - a Harris staff member named "Eddie." . . .

"After the meeting, I went with a Miami Herald reporter and I asked her, 'Who put you up to that question,' and she said, 'I'm sorry Mr. McBride. It wasn't my idea. It was the campaign. It was the Harris campaign,'" said McBride. . . .

"Nothing can be farther from the truth," said Harris. "If anyone has been found to do that, they would be fired immediately. But no one in my staff has done such behavior."

But when she was asked specifically about Eddie, Harris would not give a direct answer.

Reporter: "Was Eddie fired?" Harris: "We will not condone any behavior like that." Reporter: "But was he fired?" Harris: "Thank you. Thank you."

The Sacramento Bee went front page Saturday with the news that Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA), Jack Abramoff's "hero" for the Northern Mariana Islands, had helped Abramoff win back his lobbying contract for the islands.

Put together with our story Friday, which showed that Doolittle had delivered at least $400,000 in federal funds for the islands among other heroic deeds, the two stories show an odd dedication on Doolittle's behalf to the tiny island chain of approximately 80,000 - or rather to the garment moguls there. That dedication was rewarded with $14,000 in political donations from Abramoff over three years.

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Under Fire, Louisiana Congressman Gets Primary Challenge Rep. Bill Jefferson (D-LA), the cash-freezing lawmaker whose Hill offices were raided by the FBI, once looked like he would win re-election this November without breaking a sweat. But now it looks like he's going to have to work for the privilege: State Sen. Derrick Shepherd has announced he will challenge Jefferson in the Democratic primary. And at least two other politicians have publicly discussed jumping in with him. (

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So Tom DeLay has been forced to remain on the ballot. Will he be running?

I asked the spokeswoman for the Texas Republicans, Gretchen Essell, and this is all she would say for now: "We’re disappointed [in today's ruling], but under no circumstances will we allow the Democrats to steal this seat."

Bad news for Tom DeLay.

Lawyer for the Texas Republicans James Bopp has just issued a notice that Justice Antonin Scalia has denied their stay request.

That means that Tom DeLay WILL be forced to run again -- or watch the Democratic opponent run without a GOP opponent.

For better or worse, Tom DeLay's fate lays in the hands of Antonin Scalia.

As I just reported, the Texas GOP has filed an application with Justice Scalia to block the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling. Scalia's decision, expected within the next couple weeks, will determine once and for all whether Tom DeLay will be forced to run again for his congressional seat.

Why? Because the Supreme Court will not be able to hear the case before the election. Texas GOP lawyer James Bopp said that the GOP will still pursue the case even if Scalia doesn't block the Fifth Circuit's ruling -- but that "from a practical standpoint," he told me, the GOP will have lost the case if Scalia doesn't go along.

If Scalia granted the application, then the Texas GOP would be able to immediately begin fielding a replacement for DeLay. If Scalia did not grant it, then DeLay would remain on the ballot -- forcing him to either run again or allow the Democrat, Nick Lampson, to run without a GOP opponent.

Now imagine this: There's one tricky scenario that could have the Republicans winning the seat in the election, but then losing it to the court's decision. If Scalia grants the stay, and the Republicans field a successful replacement candidate who goes on to win in November, the case would still go to the Supreme Court. If the Democrats won there, effectively annulling the Republican's victory, then the election could be successfully challenged by the Dems. It's not immediately clear what would happen in such a knotty situation (special election?), but it would be yet another instance burnishing the litigious legacy of Tom DeLay.

Tom DeLay and the Texas Republicans say they're going to appeal last week's ruling that DeLay must remain on the ballot to the Supreme Court. Today, they started that process by filing an application to block the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling. It's addressed to Justice Antonin Scalia, who handles Fifth Circuit appeals to the court.

If Scalia granted the application, the Texas GOP would be allowed to field a replacement candidate -- rather than waiting for the Supreme Court's decision, which could take months.

I wish we had Congressional Scandal Trading Cards, because I'd introduce a new one: the Hyatt Regency Washington.

Located on Capitol Hill, the hotel served as one of the first meeting-places for alleged Duke Cunningham briber Brent Wilkes to meet with congressmen, the New York Times reported Sunday.

We already know of two other hotels in that series: the Watergate Hotel and the Westin Grand, which hosted a number of Wilkes' "poker parties." The Watergate has confirmed being subpoeanaed by federal prosecutors in connection to the Cunningham scandal; the Westin refused any substantive response to a long series of my phone calls.

What, I wondered, would the Hyatt tell us? Have they been roped into this spreading scandal?

After a brief conversation this morning, Hyatt spokeswoman Tammy Hagin called me back to say, "I'm not able to find that information out at this point."

Why not? I asked. If you can't find out, is there someone who could, and report back to you?

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I've had a couple days to digest the New York Times' lengthy article on congressional corruption, based largely on an unprecedented on-the-record interview with a man who has been identified as a major briber of former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

It isn't the tell-all I'd like it to be. But the things Brent Wilkes didn't want to talk about are nearly as telling as those he discussed freely.

Wilkes, readers will recall, is the guy who is said to have thrown power-broker poker parties in the Watergate Hotel and elsewhere, some of which were said to feature congressmen and prostititutes. He was the man who's said to have trained Mitchell Wade in the art of the dirty deal -- Wade, of course, is the other identified Duke briber, and has been cooperating with prosecutors for months.

The piece, already notable for its revelations, becomes moreso when one notices it contains barely a passing mention of Cunningham, Wade, or the phantom prostitutes (none have yet been publicly identified).

Instead, Wilkes focuses the paper's attention on Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), now the powerful chair of the House Appropriations Committee, and Bill Lowery, the lawmaker-turned-lobbyist who, as a "gatekeeper" to Lewis and his earmark factory, supposedly kept the federal dollars flowing to a dozen Wilkes-run firms.

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