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

When it comes to stretching a one- or two-day story into a weeks-long fiasco, Katherine Harris takes the cake. Or in this case, the wine.

We learned some weeks ago she shared a pricey dinner with admitted felon Mitchell Wade, after which she tried (and failed) to win a $10 million earmark that would have benefited Wade and his company, MZM Inc.

First Harris insisted she paid for her meal. But we later discovered she didn't -- which is a violation of Congressional ethics rules.

Then we learned that the meal was for a whopping $2,800. Harris: I only ate $100 worth, and in lieu of payment I contributed $100 to charity. Her explanation for the size of the bill? Wade bought two $1000+ bottles of wine, and took the unfinished portions with him.

Now, the St. Petersburg Times gives that explanation a hearty hell-no. Via its blog:

One problem with that story? Patrons can't take bottles from the restaurant. Citronelle maitre d' Jean-Jacques Retourne told us that would have violated the restaurant's liquor license. "You cannot take a bottle out."

Another Bush Administration Leaker?

Secretary of State Condolleezza Rice leaked classified information to two pro-Israel lobbyists, defense lawyers alleged in new court filings. Rice has been subpoenaed to testify in the case of Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, two AIPAC lobbyists charged with receiving and mishandling state secrets. Through a spokesman, Rice called the assertion "utterly false." But the defense lawyer for one of the men says, "This is not a stunt." (LA Times, AP)

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It's long been an open secret among special interests that giving to the DeLay Foundation for Kids was a quick way to Tom DeLay's heart. And now, courtesy of Texas Lawyer, we know who decided to buy in.

The DeLays themselves were candid about the charity's appeal to those who wanted the Majority Leader's ear. A number of months ago, for instance, after Tom DeLay was forced to step down as Majority Leader because of his indictment in Texas, Christine DeLay said to George Will: "I hated to lose the leadership position because it helps me to raise money for those kids." Will commented approvingly:

Note her agreeably guileless acknowledgement that some friends of Rio Bend [a DeLay Foundation project] may not have been seized by simple altruism. She shares here husband's credo -- power is useful and should be used -- and knows the moral ambiguities it can involve.


I think that's just Will's fancy way of saying that Tom DeLay was for sale, and sometimes his wife did the selling. This is the same Christine DeLay, mind you, who was paid by Ed Buckham's Alexander Strategy Group to create a master list of other lawmakers' favorite charities. Why would a corrupt lobbying firm want such a list? Selling access via charitable donations worked for DeLay, and it no doubt worked for others too.

But the DeLays provided a gold standard for corruption for which other lawmakers could only strive.

So in the DeLays' case, who was buying? According to Texas Lawyer, a diverse array of special interests (particularly pharmaceuticals, oil, and tobacco), and one very special interest in particular: Brent Wilkes, the defense contractor who appeared in Duke Cunningham's guilty plea as Co-Conspirator #1.

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NBC names the CIA official fired for leaking classified information on its "black sites" network of secret prisons: Mary McCarthy.

(Ed. Note: An earlier version of this story credited AP with breaking McCarthy's identity.)

A senior intelligence analyst, McCarthy had been assigned to the CIA's Office of the Inspector General to look into allegations of torture by the CIA in Iraq.

I hope that if McCarthy was the leaker, we will hear more from her in the coming days. Here's why: CIA folks leak like sieves concerning internal agency politics, but it's nearly impossible to get them to talk about field operations -- for good reason. People who work on IG investigations are just as tight-lipped -- especially concerning wrongdoing. After all, they aren't helpless bystanders -- they're in a position to do something about it.

So what would motivate a person in her position to leak?

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Ladies and Gentlemen, Grand Ole Docket enthusiasts, we give you the Kentucky Subdocket.

Yes, like its neighbor Ohio, Kentucky is proving such a rat's nest of corruption that it necessitates its own special and separate page. In fact, Kentucky swamps Ohio in sheer numbers: it's landed an impressive 17 faces on the docket. Ohio has only 6.

For almost a year now, Kentucky has been rocked by the state Attorney General's investigation into Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration for infractions of the state's Merit System. Simply put, it's against state law to promote party loyals within the bureaucracy because of their affiliation. But Fletcher and his boys couldn't resist pushing their fellow Republicans up the food chain, and now they're in trouble.

It's quite a cast of characters, but our in-house favorite is Bill Nighbert, Fletcher's Secretary of the Transportation Cabinet, who called a female whistleblower a "she-devil," and later told her that if it were 20 years ago "I probably would have come back there and socked you in the mouth." Because it was OK to hit women in 1986.

But you can pick your own favorite. Enjoy!

Just got a call from Sen. Conrad Burns' (R-MT) spokesman Matt Mackowiak who, in response to our earlier story, unequivocally denied that Burns had ever earmarked money for Map Roi's Guam project. This contradicts Guam Gov. Camacho's assertion that Burns had.

"Burns never inserted it as an earmark in an Interior appropriations bill," he said. "The project was not funded through Sen. Burns."

He further said that he could find no evidence that Burns had even responded in writing or otherwse to Guam Gov. Felix Camacho's request for an earmark. Camacho had written a letter to Burns, explaining the virtues of the Map Roi program.

Soon after writing the letter, Camacho claimed in his "State of the Island" address that Burns had inserted the earmark. According to Burns, this was a total fabrication.

To compensate for breaking $2800 worth of very, very fancy bread with the felonious Mitchell Wade, Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) gave $100 to a charity, the Orlando Sentinel reported today.

A number of you noted the name of the charity -- Global Dominion Impact Ministries -- and thought it sounded, well, a little odd. And it is.

Before we get into the details, check this out: the group gives out free email addresses: [yourname]@globaldominionministries.com.

I honestly can't think of anything cooler. Hurry and get one now, before they run out of good Christian mercy and shut the thing down.

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If you can't stand the heat, get off the ethics committee.

Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) is stepping down from his post as Ranking Member on the House ethics committee, Roll Call's John Bresnahan reports this afternoon, quoting anonymous sources.

Mollohan informed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of his decision in a letter today, and Pelosi "has accepted his decision," a Democratic source said.


Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) will take the spot, Bresnahan says.

Mollohan's been under scrutiny for numerous allegations of financial misrepresentations on his disclosure forms.

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