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

If campaign aides were hair, Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) would be bald, the Orlando Sentinel reports this morning:

Harris, who is running against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, is likely to lose her chief political strategist, her campaign manager, her spokeswoman, her director of field operations and even a traveling aide who helps hand out stickers at campaign appearances.


Even the guy who hands out the stickers.

In a preposterous attempt to stem the defections, the Recount Queen apparently is stealing a page from the playbook of. . . a third-rate Eastern European dictator? She's requiring the few staffers staying behind to swear a loyalty oath to her campaign:

[S]ources said Harris met with staffers earlier in the day. . . Campaign workers could stay, she said, but they would have to recommit themselves to the Senate race. She gave them until 5 p.m. Sunday to decide.


Yeah, that'll work.

Tony Rudy was the second former aide to Tom DeLay to go down - the first was Michael Scanlon. But the details in his plea, it looks like he's going to take down a third with him, Ed Buckham. Buckham's name might not be immediately familiar to you now, but it will be if he eventually pleads guilty.

Buckham will be the biggest and hardest to fall - his lobbying firm Alexander Strategy Group was central to DeLay's operation. And he ran the U.S. Family Network, the non-profit pumped full of money from Jack Abramoff's clients ($2.3 million) in a bid to (ahem) influence DeLay. Not only that, but Buckham was the one who seems to have perfected the practice of using wives as pass-throughs to members of Congress - both Christine DeLay and Rep. John Doolittle's (R-CA) wife Julie Doolittle worked for Buckham.

And as if that wasn't enough, keep in mind that Buckham also plays a major role in the Duke Cunningham story - he was the lobbyist for Brent Wilkes, one of the two defense contractors who bought into Duke.

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Oh, Howard. Howard Kaloogian, a GOP candidate for Randy "Duke" Cunningham's Congressional seat, came to our attention earlier this week when he misrepresented a photograph of a Turkish suburb as downtown Baghdad.

He apologized, and we were ready to move on. And then he pulled a similar stunt -- falsely claiming an endorsement from a prominent GOP state senator.

And today we find he's done it again! On his campaign Web site, Kaloogian lists the Center for Reclaiming America as endorsing his campaign. The right-wing Christian activist group was recently involved in a petition drive to keep Terry Schaivo's feeding tube inserted.

But John Aman, the group's media representative, said they have never endorsed Kaloogian. "The endorsement listed on the website is not correct. We don't endorse candidates," he told us.

When will this madness end?

Late Update: We missed one! The San Diego Union-Tribune discovered Kaloogian falsely claimed an endorsement from state Sen. Bill Morrow:

"Howard Kaloogian's campaign Web site includes a picture and a quote from me from 2001 that implies that I have endorsed his candidacy for Congress," Morrow, R-Carlsbad, said in a press release. "Howard knows that I have not endorsed his candidacy, and that I am running for the same congressional seat."


Another Late Update: Jonathan Krive, spokesman for Kaloogian, called us back. "I think that's just a mistake on the part of the webmaster," he said. They gotta get a new webmaster.

Along with the "Information" the government issued earlier today as part of Tony Rudy's guilty plea, the government has also released Rudy's "Factual Proffer." It's another summary of the crimes for which Rudy is pleading guilty and includes more details. We've posted it here.

This document does mention Ed Buckham (he's "Lobbyist B") and gives more details on Rudy's lobbying of DeLay's office. Rudy left DeLay in December 2000 -- by January, 2001, he was lobbying DeLay's office. The proffer provides two examples:

a. From January 2001 to March 2001, Rudy solicited from the office of [Tom DeLay] support for legislation providing for reparations payments to certain U.S. citizens from assets in United States of foreign companies and governments; and

b. In or about July 2001, Rudy coordinated with the leadership staff of [DeLay] on legislation affecting automobile emissions.


More soon.

Americans for Tax Reform, the non-profit organization run by powerful GOP operative Grover Norquist, is little more than a front for lobbying operations, the Boston Globe reports today.

With the cover of a nonprofit enterprise, Norquist's "clients" become "donors," and ATR never needs to disclose who they are. Meanwhile, Norquist lobbies heavily on Capitol Hill for their interests, the Globe says, and no one's the wiser.

Until now -- the Globe's Michael Kranish got hold of ATR's donor lists. Fun stuff.

Remember, Norquist was a close associate of Jack Abramoff's. He laundered money for the disgraced lobbyist, set up front groups to fight battles for Abramoff's clients, arranged meetings between Abramoff's clients and the White House, and more. I have a feeling we may hear more.

Over at TPM, Josh asked for backstory on Cynthia McKinney's (D-GA) PunchGate. After all, lawmakers don't often erupt into violence, even feisty ones like McKinney.

Well, it seems that cops have a hard time recognizing McKinney as a lawmaker. From a 2002 Slate profile of the congresswoman:

In August 1993, during her first term in office, a Capitol Hill police officer tried to prevent her from bypassing a metal detector, as members of Congress are allowed to do. For years afterward, The Hill reports, the Capitol Police pinned a picture of McKinney to an office wall, warning officers to learn her face because she refuses to wear her member's pin. (And because officers are innately suspicious of a black woman with braided hair and gold shoes.) Five years later, she blasted White House security after guards thought her 23-year-old white aide was the congresswoman.


I wouldn't say such treatment warrants violence -- but you gotta admit, most lawmakers probably don't have to deal with stuff like this.

The Capitol Police plan to issue an arrest warrant for lawmaker Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), who punched one of their boys in blue a couple days ago.

McKinney canceled a news conference she was planning to hold to address the matter.

The fracas erupted when a policeman at a security checkpoint failed to recognize McKinney, who has served in Congress for over a decade.

See TPM for more thoughts on this.

Tony Rudy pled to a single charge of Conspiracy. Rudy faces a maximum sentence of five years, a fine of $250,000, and $100,000 in restitution. Because of his cooperation, Rudy is likely to receive a sentence in the range of two years to two years, 6 months.

Two Members of Congress are identified in the plea: Representative #1 is Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) and Representative #2 is former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX). Keep in mind that this doesn't mean that this is all Rudy has to give. Guilty pleas are not exhaustive.

Three main observations: 1) I'm not sure there are room for any more nails in Bob Ney's coffin, but if there were, Tony Rudy's plea squeezes them in there.

2) The plea does mention DeLay, but it seems like he's not going to serve up DeLay to prosecutors on a silver platter.

3) The plea doesn't mention Ed Buckham at all.

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Here is the "Information" - the facts to which Tony Rudy pleaded guilty today.

It can be hard to keep all these corrupt former DeLay aides straight - so let's go over who Tony Rudy is.

First, it's absolutely no surprise that Rudy is pleading guilty. He was identified in Jack Abramoff's plea agreement twice (as "Staffer A"). The most serious allegation was that he accepted $50,000 in payments through his wife in order to kill two key pieces of legislation while working for DeLay.

He worked for Tom DeLay through December, 2000, when he left to work for Abramoff at Greenberg Traurig. He was no doubt involved in some shady business there, and he left after a little more than a year to go work for Alexander Strategy Group, the lobbying firm run by Ed Buckham, another former DeLay aide. ASG, whose business was access to Delay, folded shortly after Abramoff pled guilty.

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