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

Oh, man! You ever feel like getting away from it all?

Well, so did the treasurer for Florida GOP Congressional candidate Nancy Detert. And he took her campaign war chest with him!

Randy Maddox transferred nearly $100,000 from the campaign to his personal account and went to Buenos Aires, where he blew through $27,000 in about a week. Asked how he could spend so much money in so little time, Maddox's lawyer said, "In all truthfulness, details are sketchy."

Here's a clue: Detert said her treasurer is checked in to a Florida rehab clinic.

But this is the kicker -- federal law prohibits contributions over $2,100 to a campaign, so Detert is trying to figure out how to get her money back without seeing laws broken a second time.

We will note without comment that Detert's running for Rep. Katherine Harris' (R) seat, which she's vacating to run for Senate.

Thanks to reader LI for the tip.

Before David Safavian was even offered the position of chief of staff at GSA, he was talking to Jack Abramoff about joining him and his "band of merry men" at Greenberg Traurig. But then the GSA offer came down, and Safavian knew a sweet honey pot when he saw one. It was a irresistible perch for a once and future lobbyist.

Here's how the courtship went:

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Yesterday we learned Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) hired a big-shot criminal defense attorney, perhaps out of fear he could get nicked by the spreading Abramoff scandal. His finances keep revealing more secrets: it turns out, he's got two fundraising consultants. And they're both close to his heart.

The first, of course, is his wife Julie. Her Sierra Dominion Financial Services pulled in $82,127 from her husband's campaign.

He had such success with her, he put his chief of staff's wife on the payroll. And when his chief of staff left Washington last year, he put him on the payroll, too.

Since January 2005, Doolittle's campaign has paid David and Kathy Lopez almost as much as he pays his own wife: over $80,000 in fees and reimbursements, all for "fundraising consulting."

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What would be the perfect car for Jack Abramoff? It would need the right shine, the right glamor, with plenty of pimped-out features... How about a limo seized in a drug bust?

The government dumped almost three hundred pages of emails between Jack Abramoff and David Safavian into the public record Friday night, and they make for a highly entertaining read. Invaluable, really, for getting a sense of how these guys talked to each other. The Post and Newsweek touched on that in their coverage, but it's really worth reading the emails themselves. Above all, one gets a sense of how they thought of the federal government as their personal sandbox. We'll be posting excerpts throughout the day.

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In an effort to better understand the man who gave former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham over $1.4 million in bribes, I've spent a good amount of time finding and talking to former employees of Mitchell Wade at his company, MZM Inc. They don't paint a flattering picture of the man.

Former employees rarely do, of course. But even accounting for the typical bad feelings harbored by disgruntled former employees, he is clearly not a nice man. None were willing to be named. Why?

"Vindictive," "petty," "calculating" and "paranoid" are words that come up again and again. "You were either on his team, or he wanted you destroyed," said one person. "Everything Mitch did, he did for a reason," said another. "And he's still doing it." He liked to open all the mail delivered to MZM, just to see what people were getting, one employee recalled.

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As an Army interrogator at Abu Ghraib in 2004, Torin Nelson helped investigators document instances of prisoner abuse and torture by his colleagues. Now a contract employee, he's being blacklisted from working in the military, according to Jason Vest in Government Executive:

Since last October, Nelson has been solicited or applied for dozens of overseas contract interrogation jobs. He has gotten none. Army Lt. Col. Maricela G. Alvarado, an intelligence staff officer, told Nelson in a recent e-mail that the Army knows that he was "not involved in any incident of wrongdoing" at Abu Ghraib.


Instead, it's blowing the whistle that appears to have made him persona non grata among military intelligence:
'[Our company] is apparently being asked to be able to "certify" that deploying you forward would not cause an adverse circumstance at some point in the future,' [an executive for his employer] wrote in a recent e-mail to Nelson. 'I don't know what that means . . . [but the] basic feeling is that any attention would be unwanted, and they do not wish to accept the risk.'

After Jack Anderson's death, the FBI wants what it never had during the legendary Washington Post reporter's career -- a chance to pore through his notes:

[Anderson's] syndicated column, Washington Merry-Go-Round, earned him the enmity of the corrupt and powerful -- so much so that during the Watergate years, associates of Nixon had discussed assassinating the columnist. They never went through with the plot. Anderson died last December at the age of 83.

His archive, some 200 boxes now being held by George Washington University's library, could be a trove of information about state secrets, dirty dealings, political maneuverings, and old-fashioned investigative journalism, open for historians and up-and-coming reporters to see.


The FBI says it wants to review them in order to remove any classified material. Jack Anderson "would probably come out of his skin at the thought of the FBI going through his papers," his son tells the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Anderson broke many Washington scandals in his time, but he also gave us Murray Waas and a generation of other investigative reporters, who interned for him in their youth -- that's a legacy to be proud of.

Doesn't the FBI have better things to do?

Maybe We Will Have DeLay to Kick Around Anymore

Former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) raised nearly half a million dollars in the six weeks before he dropped out of his election, the Houston Chronicle reports this morning. All that cash can go towards his legal fund. And once he beats his rap, K Street beckons, the Washington Post says. Proving they can still write satire better than anybody, the paper reports:

I called top lobbyists and asked a simple question, "Could Tom DeLay become a lobbyist now that he's leaving government?"

The answer was a resounding "Yes." DeLay may have found himself on the wrong end of several ethics committee reports, they said. He may have been too radioactive a few years ago to run for speaker of the House. He may even have been too tainted by his ties to convicted felons to be reelected to Congress this year.

But he could still make a bundle on K Street, they concurred. Leaders of law and lobbying firms made it clear that they would happily hire him, especially if federal prosecutors don't indict him as part of the Abramoff affair.


(Houston Chronicle, Washington Post)

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Yes, he did:

Three weeks after Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to three federal felony crimes, Rep. John Doolittle turned for legal advice concerning his own association with Abramoff to a former associate of special prosecutor Ken Starr whose legal specialties now include white-collar crime and public corruption. . . .

A Doolittle aide, Richard Robinson, said the attorney handling Doolittle's inquiry is David G. Barger. Barger is the former president of the Virginia Bar Association's criminal law section and a former assistant U.S. attorney, who later was an associate of Starr's in the Whitewater investigation. . . .

Robinson said that the campaign hired Barger to address the congressman's concerns about how he should respond to questions from the press as he contemplated having to talk about the scandal as part of his campaign for re-election.

Did Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) lawyer up as a result of the spreading Abramoff scandal?

Just three weeks after fallen superlobbyist Jack Abramoff agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, Doolittle's 2006 campaign committee cut a $10,000 payment for "legal fees" to the firm of Williams Mullen, government records show.

There were no other payments to the firm in the months before or after that check was cut, according to reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission.

We can't determine conclusively what the check was for -- neither the campaign nor the firm will return phone calls. But we can rule out some possibilities. It doesn't seem to be for Doolittle's traditional campaign law counsel; for that, the campaign appears to pay the firm Wiley Rein & Fielding roughly $1,000 a month.

Nor is it for providing a treasurer for his campaign; records show that role is filled by David Bauer, who is not listed among Williams Mullen's attorneys.

Since Abramoff became the target of government and media investigations, Doolittle's name has repeatedly surfaced as one of the lawmakers likely to face legal problems as a result of their dealings with Abramoff. He took over $140,000 from Jack, his associates and his clients; he held fundraisers in Jack's skybox and restaurant, but sometimes failed to report them; he took repeated actions on behalf of Abramoff's clients; and his wife took money from two Abramoff-connected operations.

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