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

The AP has a story this afternoon about James Tobin's contacts with the White House around Election Day, 2002, the day that the New Hampshire GOP jammed the phones for Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts. Tobin was the RNC's New England Regional Political Director at the time, and a key figure in orchestrating the jamming.

As far as details go, there's not much more here than what we learned back in March: that Tobin was in very close touch with the White House's political affairs office around the same time that he helped plan the jamming. As we noted then, he called the White House twelve times on the big day.

Democrats are pressing a civil suit against the GOP in New Hampshire, and they plan to ask a federal judge tomorrow "to order GOP and White House officials to answer questions about the phone jamming in a civil lawsuit alleging voter fraud."

The ranking Democrat on the House Ethics Committee, Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.V.) is under investigation. That much is clear. And politically, there can be no question that it's a black eye for Democrats.

But it's not clear from press accounts what Mollohan is under investigation for. Maybe that's because a Congressman misstating financial assets doesn't make for scintillating news copy?

Here's why Mollohan may be in trouble.

Ken Boehm of the National Legal and Policy Center filed an 81 page complaint (along with more than 400 pages of exhibits) with the U.S. Attorney's Office on February 28th. It's principal allegation was that Mollohan had consistently and repeatedly undervalued or failed to report assets on his financial disclosure reports. If true, Boehm says Mollohan would be in violation of two laws:

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"Grandma in Iraq" is ceasing publication.

Amid criticism, the Cincinnati Enquirer-hosted blog on U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq, written by Suzanne Fournier, Army Corps of Engineers Public Affairs Officer, is being taken down. Enquirer editor Tom Callinan said he wasn't responding to the bad press; the blog is coming down, he says, because Fournier's tour is ending.

Callinan didn't note precisely when her tour is ending, nor when the blog will cease to publish. Fournier's most recent entry is dated April 6.

Fournier's status as a flack and a newspaper blogger was first noted at TPMmuckraker.

(Via Cincinnati Beacon)

The State Department's top political appointees and other senior officials spend millions in unwarranted first-class air travel, the Government Accountability Office reports.

In its effort to spur "regime change" in Iran, the Bush administration is dumping millions of dollars into exile groups. But the pickings are slim for groups that could actually stage a coup. How slim? The administration may be casting a wayward glance at a terrorist group formerly allied with Saddam Hussein.

In a recent analysis in The New York Review of Books, Christopher de Bellaigue, who lives in Iran, writes that there are hardly any formidable opponents to the current regime. He selects two of the best possible recipients for our millions, and shows that they would be dubious investments, at best.

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There are a number of tactical differences between being Majority Leader and a criminal defendant, but the most important one of all must be that the "Hammer" approach isn't bound to fly too well with prosecutors. As I wrote before, it's not clear DeLay has any leverage with the Justice Department; so his only option may be to make sure he gets a good lawyer and play nice. In the end, all of the venom he spewed toward Texas District Attorney Ronnie Earle didn't seem to win him anything but an indictment.

So who's running the Hammer's federal defense?

Richard Cullen, the recipient of a glowing profile in today's Richmond Times-Dispatch. He's the one who offered the DoJ 1,000 emails from DeLay's office late last year as a "Christmas gift," and the one who carefully stage-managed DeLay's announcement of his retirement last week. And so far he's been able to keep DeLay from saying nasty things about the prosecutors.

DeLay seems to have landed himself a fine tactician. Cullen has a piece of three of the major criminal investigations of the day: he also has clients in the Plame investigation and the AIPAC investigation. Other clients include Boeing and Time Warner. You might say that he's right at the center of American life in these mucky times.

"I know we've made tactical errors, thousands of them," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said recently of the U.S. execution of the war in Iraq.

Wouldn't you know, MZM, Inc. -- the company run by admitted felon, briber and ripoff artist Mitchell Wade -- was involved in making tactical warfighting decisions and handling intelligence in the thick of the U.S. invasion and occupation?

"MZM has a team of intelligence professionals placed with the Joint Intelligence Center (JIC) in U.S. Central Command," states an internal MZM document dated late 2003 and obtained by "This team. . . develops targets for the Commander of U.S. Central Command, which is combating enemy forces in Iraq."

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NY Governor George Pataki (R) shows he's got what it takes to be president:

Less than nine months before he steps down, Governor Pataki is busy installing his friends and political allies into top positions at the most powerful state authorities.

Hail to the Leaker-in-Chief

To cap off a long weekend of leak stories, the NY Times goes front page Monday with confirmation of President Bush's role, and news that he authorized the declassification of the National Intelligence Estimate in order to rebut critics, but "did not designate Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr., or anyone else, to release the information to reporters." So it was to be a secret declassification? Or is this the "get-it-done-but-don't-tell-me-how" defense? (NYT)

The AP has a similar, but more explicit, version: A "lawyer knowledgeable about the case said Bush instructed Cheney to 'get it out' and left the details about disseminating the intelligence to him." (AP)

Earlier this weekend, we also learned from the Times that Libby was lying to reporters when he said that it had been a "key judgment" in the NIE that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger. (NYT)

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