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

FOX News' Brit Hume brings us the latest McKinneyana: the police report detailing the assault by Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) of a Capitol Police officer says she hit the man with her fist. Earlier news accounts said she had used her cell phone.

Meanwhile, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police -- who earlier said he wanted to make sure the punched officer could "look at his legal recourses" -- is denying that he was urging the officer to sue McKinney. "[S]everal media accounts are misleading and state that I urged the officer to sue Representative McKinney. That is not the case," FOP chief Chuck Canterbury said in a statement last week. "I am not an attorney and did not recommend any specific legal action."

Crooked Contractor Paid $2,800 for Dinner with Katherine Harris

Former MZM, Inc. briber-in-chief Mitchell Wade paide a $2,800 tab for dinner with Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL). It appears they ran up the tab by downing a couple bottles of $1,000 wines.

Harris' campaign had earlier stated she had paid for the meal. Here's how she and her campaign handled today's revelation:

Harris acknowledged for the first time that Wade had paid for the dinner at Citronelle, reversing a statement from her congressional spokeswoman earlier this year.

But in the interview, Harris also said her campaign had, at some point, "reimbursed" the restaurant.

When asked how she could have reimbursed a business that was owed no money -- Wade paid the bill that evening -- she abruptly ended the interview and walked off.

Her spokesman called back an hour later and asked a reporter not to publish anything Harris had said Wednesday night about the dinner.


It seems her former strategist, longtime GOP operative Ed Rollins, went on the record to dish this morsel to a reporter. How on the outs with the GOP establishment do you have to be in order for your former employees to hit you on the record? (Orlando Sentinel)

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Just got a call back from Brian Walsh, spokesman for Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), who gave a lengthy and impassioned defense of his boss' legal bills.

"Frankly, it's an unfortunate commentary on the justice system that someone has to spend a lot of money simply to clear their name and set the record straight in what is in this case completely false allegations," Walsh said.

"The bottom line is, the congressman is doing everything possible and moving as quickly as possible to put these allegations to rest and clear his name.

"Washington lawyers are obviously very expensive," he added.

I got a chance to chat with Mark Tuohey, Ney's lawyer, also. He politely declined to talk about the work that he's doing on Ney's behalf, or the number of lawyers involved. "That's generally something I don't comment on," he told me.

TPMm Reader MK has an inspired thought:

Doesn't it make it worse that Taylor claims the meeting was not a fundraiser, yet still collected money from Team Abramoff? I think it makes it more look like a straight up bribe.


So I guess it's up to Taylor which way to spin it. He met with a bunch of lobbyists and walked away with $6,000 dollars in contributions - a fundraiser or just another successful meeting?

How's this for a sign of serious trouble: For every campaign dollar Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) spent last quarter, 40 cents went to cover his "legal fees."

From January to March of this year, Ney spent $96,500 in legal fees to the law firm of Vinson & Elkins, FEC documents show. (V&E partner Mark Tuohey is Ney's attorney.) That's nearly 40 percent of his total campaign spending for the period -- $250,098.

Is the guy running for Congress, or running from jail? What do his supporters think?

Ney was notified last October that he was the target of a federal investigation for allegedly taking bribes from Jack Abramoff and his crew. Since then, he's spent over $230,000 in legal fees to Vinson & Elkins, according to his FEC filings.

In the last three months of 2005, Ney's campaign spending actually dropped by 50 percent -- apparently because his lawyers didn't send him a bill.

Neither Ney nor Tuohey immediately returned our calls on the matter.

At what point does a guy admit to his funders that they're not paying to keep him in the race, they're keeping him out of prison?

As we mentioned before, Rep. Charles Taylor (R-N.C.) was treated to thousands in campaign contributions from Jack Abramoff's team of lobbyists at an event held at Signatures, Abramoff's restaurant, in April of 2003. But he's tied himself in knots denying that it was a "fundraiser."

On a hunch, we checked his FEC disclosure records - and sure enough, he never declared the fundraiser as a campaign event, nor reimbursed reimbursed Signatures, Greenberg Traurig, or anyone else for the expense of hosting the fundraiser, as campaigns are supposed to do.

So if Taylor continues to have such trouble distinguishing a friendly lunch from a fundraiser, we're sure the FEC's lawyers could help puzzle it out for him.

The Homeland Security Department takes a break from protecting the nation's fax machines -- to protect itself from media scrutiny.

Last month, a security officer who guards DHS headquarters went on NBC Nightly News to blow the whistle on lax security practices there. The very next day, his fellow guards were told to sign secrecy oaths, called "non-disclosure agreements," Congressional Quarterly's Patrick Yoest reports.

"The timing raises questions about whether DHS and Wackenhut [the guard's employer] misused the agreements and ignored whistleblower protections in an effort to prevent the guards from disclosing additional information about security lapses at DHS headquarters," notes Yoest.

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Rep. Charles Taylor (R-N.C.) has shown a talent for creative cop-outs - well, here's another.

On April 9, 2003, Taylor sat down for a lunch with several lobbyists from Greenberg Traurig. Reliable sources say they met at Signatures, although we couldn't confirm it. Two days later, Taylor's campaign deposited checks from six members of Team Abramoff for $500 each, along with a $2,000 check from Jack Abramoff himself and $1,000 from his client, the Saginaw Chippewa tribe of Michigan. One month later, Taylor wrote a letter to the Interior Department to help the Saginaw land a hefty school construction grant.

The AP, in their piece on Taylor's work for Abramoff, reported that this was a fundraiser. But Taylor, trying desperately to deny that he's ever done anything for Abramoff, is not admitting the fundraiser took place - and since this is Charles Taylor we're talking about here, you can be sure that it's not a straight denial.

Taylor admits sitting down with at least six members of Team Abramoff on the date in question. But he's questioning whether the event could be called a "fundraiser." Why? Because he doesn't recall getting any money on the spot - he says he "received no checks there."

Of course, Taylor can't plead ignorance that his campaign actually received checks - but since they weren't waved under his nose then and there, it's an open question for him whether this was a fundraiser. Maybe it was a coincidence. But the AP saw no room for ambiguity: "Abramoff's firm threw Taylor a fundraiser."

But the cop-out doesn't stop there.

According to Joel Burgess, the Asheville Citizen-Times reporter who interviewed Taylor, he also won't admit that the event was held at Abramoff's restaurant Signatures... but he won't deny it, either.

And Taylor says he can't remember why he met with the lobbyists. But (it's funny the way memory works) he can remember why he didn't meet with them: it was "not to raise money or discuss the tribe." And yet he ended up raising money, some of it from the tribe.

Taylor's in for a really tight race this November and will be hit hard on his shilling for Abramoff - seems to me that his story could use some improvement between now and election day.

Call your bookie! CQ is changing the Ohio 18th District Congressional race -- that's Bob Ney's (R) seat -- to "no clear favorite." The Q had been calling it "leans Republican."

As the news org puts it, "A close past association with now-convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff has put long-popular Republican Rep. Bob Ney at risk as he seeks a seventh term in Ohio's 18th District."

The Nation has a chilling new story up about how the U.S. security contractor Blackwater cut corners on the safety of its men in Iraq, at the same time it was rabidly overcharging its clients.

Among other shockers, the magazine reveals that Blackwater removed language in one of its contracts that would have ensured all its personnel would travel in armored vehicles. Families of four slain employees are suing the company because of the change.

"When they took that word 'armored' out, Blackwater was able to save $1.5 million in not buying armored vehicles, which they could then put in their pocket," an attorney in the suit tells the magazine.

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