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

Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) is sticking with her Senate race, despite rumors -- and polls, and troubling news -- to the contrary. "'We've had some negative hits but we've had an overwhelming response from grass roots and leadership around the state that are saying 'Go for it' and that's what we're doing," she tells AP. I guess that Democratic call-in campaign worked.

"That is definitely a DeLay Foundation Golf Tournament picture," notes sharp-eyed reader BK of the hug-and-mug photo serving as Vanity Fair's April celebrity centerfold.

Why is he so sure? "The early tournaments benefited CASA [the Court Appointed Special Advocates program], the same program whose logo appears on DeLay and Abramoff's golf shirts."

If he's right, it's a subtle dollop of irony atop VF's delicious sundae of scandalous details.

You see, CASA was an offshoot of the DeLay Foundation for Kids, a charity set up nearly 20 years ago by Tom and Christine DeLay.

Depending on whom you ask, the foundation is a) one more example of DeLay's benevolent nature, particularly towards America's youth, or b) a "rotten" charity that's just "another way for the donors to get their hooks into politicians." DeLay supporters say (a); Fred Lewis of Texas watchdog Campaigns for People says (b). Most good-government groups side with Lewis.

Abramoff pushed his clients to give big checks to the organization, because it was a good way to get in tight with DeLay, the National Journal reported last year. "[He] knew that if they kept Christine happy, and, by extension, Tom happy, they could continue to have unfettered access to DeLay's office," a source told NJ. "The charity was a key avenue for their clients to put financial resources into DeLay Inc."

"[Abramoff] is a pathological liar who has no credibility and belongs in jail," a Burns spokesman tells AP. Burns' statement comes in response to Abramoff's comments to Vanity Fair, mentioned earlier today, that his clients got "every appropriation we wanted" from Burns' committee, and that Burns' staffers used Abramoff's restaurant, Signatures, "as their cafeteria."

Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) has managed to steer clear of any Abramoff taint so far, and as far as we can tell he never received a dollar from Abramoff or his tribal clients. But his staff at least, was tied in to the Abramoff favor machine.

Longtime TPM readers know that we have a stack of unpublished Abramoff emails, many of which show various staffers angling for coveted seats in Abramoff's MCI Center skybox.

One staffer who came up again and again was one Anthony Miccolis of Lincoln Chafee's office.

On February 29th, 2000, Team Abramoff member Jennifer Calvert wrote Abramoff's assistant Susan Ralston to reserve two tickets for Miccolis for the "WWF Backlash" event.

And then May 2nd, 2000, she wrote to reserve seats for "WWF Attitude."

He signed up twice more for tickets for "WWF Raw is War" and "WCW Starcade."

You can see the emails here. Calls to Chafee's office and Miccolis, who's now a Councilman in North Kingston, RI, were not returned.

Anyone up in Rhode Island want to get Miccolis on the record on this? Maybe he'll have a savvier PR strategy than Mark Graul.

A source close to Rep. Katherine Harris' (R-FL) campaign for Senate told that her top advisers are gathering in Washington to convince her to drop out of the race.

And it looks like the Hotline is hearing similar rumblings.

Calls to the offices of her pollster and another outside adviser revealed they were in meetings all afternoon. At Harris' Florida campaign office, a receptionist said Harris' spokeswoman, Morgan Dobbs, wasn't available because she was in Washington, D.C. for a meeting.

We emailed Dobbs to confirm the whispers. "[A]bsolutely false," she replied, via BlackBerry. "AP will release a story soon with KH's comments. She is in the race until November."

A piece of potentially bad news for the Scooter Libby defense team: online traders are betting in favor of the former White House aide receiving a guilty verdict.

Futures contracts on a guilty verdict for Libby have soared to 57 percent in recent days on the web-based trading site The higher the figure, the more "certain" the market is of an event coming to pass.

Read More →

We've been following up on Monday's story about a possible connection between the White House and Mitchell Wade's curious Iranian democracy non-profit.

If you recall, Wade -- who's facing several years in the big house for bribery, fraud, tax evasion and more -- registered the "Iranian Democratization Foundation" in April 2004. Two months later, the White House signed the first of three contracts with Wade's company MZM for "intelligence services." In all, Wade's contracts with the Executive Office of the President were worth $250,000. His foundation has since been dissolved.

We've called the White House three times asking for more information about the contracts, but they have yet to call us back. Meanwhile, a cursory check has turned up no other filings for Wade's nonprofit: no employer ID number, 990 filing, or anything else. Nexis shows no mention of the group in any news coverage.

What was Wade doing for the White House?

Opening with a double-page bleed-to-the-edge photo of a smiling Jack Abramoff golfing with Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), the April issue of Vanity Fair (hitting next week) devotes nine pages to the disgraced lobbyist and his attempts to set the record straight. Paticularly on all those who have forsaken him:

President Bush, who claims not to remember meeting Abramoff - the lobbyist says Bush once joked with him, "What are you benching, buff guy?"

RNC Chair Ken Mehlman, who said he didn't really know Abramoff - it turns out he had Sabbath dinner at Abramoff's house, did him political favors, and even offered to pay Abramoff's tab at Signatures, the lobbyist's restaurant.

Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT), who says Abramoff never influenced him - "Every appropriation we wanted [from Burns' committee] we got. Our staffs were as close as they could be. They practically used Signatures as their cafeteria."

Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose spokesman says Newt wouldn't have known Abramoff "if he fell across him" - "I have more pictures of [Newt] than I have of my wife."

You wouldn't know it from his folksy manner, but Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) is in deep with the telecom lobby, where a whole stable of his ex-aides have gone on to thrive, with good return:

For nearly a decade, a group of former top aides to Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) have successfully used personal and professional connections to Burns, Montana State University's Burns Technology Center and other institutions associated with him to secure more than $20 million in lobbying fees for themselves, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in federal research contracts, tax breaks and subsidies for their clients.

Read More →

How times change. How votes change.

As I mentioned in the Daily Muck, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) is rolling out his Internet Gambling Prohibition Act again, and prospects are bright, now that Jack Abramoff isn't around.

Back in October, the Washington Post had a gruesome blow-by-blow account of Abramoff's victory in 2000, when he narrowly defeated the bill. It would have put his client, eLottery, Inc. out of business. He rounded up some holy soldiers, Ralph Reed and Rev. Louis Sheldon, and had them attack, armed with his brilliant spin that the anti-gambling bill was actually soft on gambling because it made an exception for horse racing and jai-alai.

Then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) played a key role in killing the bill. And there were a number of other Republicans who crossed over to oppose it, bringing Abramoff's team great glee.

But things are different this time around. Goodlatte's bill now boasts a whopping 118 co-sponsors.

And remember, this is the same bill. According to Goodlatte's office, the current version is the same piece of legislation that failed in 2000 with only a few minor changes.

So - same bill. And as I noted before, Tom DeLay is a co-sponsor this go-around. We wondered who else had changed their mind, so we compared the roll call for the vote in 2000 with the list of co-sponsors. We found that eight members, seven Republicans and one Democrat, have changed their mind. They are:

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) Rep. William Jenkins (R-TN) Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-MN) Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA)

Now, there might be a perfectly legitimate explanation for changing one's vote. But whatever it is, it's not because the substance of the bill has changed. So inquiring minds want to know: is there any other explanation than that this time, Abramoff wasn't against it? What is it?