The judge in the trial of Brent Wilkes, who has already been found guilty of bribing former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, said yesterday that if it turns out that Wilkes lied when he claimed poverty - leading the court to appoint public defenders for a second Wilkes trial for fraud and conspiracy - it might affect his sentencing. Wilkes is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday* in the bribery case. (San Diego Union-Tribune)
An often praised clause in last year's lobbying reform law bans lawmakers from participating in events at presidential conventions that "honor" members of Congress. However, the House ethics committee recently undermined the spirit of this measure when, in a public memo, it explained that lawmakers could be celebrated at presidential conventions provided that they are part of a delegation. Now, the Senate's Select Committee on Ethics, while voicing disapproval of this loophole, has created an alternative one - a member of Congress can be a "featured speaker" at a national convention party without violating the lobbying law. (Washington Post's "In the Loop")
Responding to the revelation that the Army suppressed a Rand Corp. study of the planning for the war in Iraq, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO), Chairman of the Armed Services Committee has called for the Army to release the report. (Think Progress)
Pervasive processing delays in green-card applicants will be solved by a Bush administration plan to grant permanent residency to tens of thousands U.S. immigrants before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services completes background checks by consulting FBI investigation files. The change in policy came as a result of years of criticism by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general, lawmakers, and federal judges over immigration processing problems. (Washington Post)
In an effort to trim less than 1% from his proposed annual budget of $3.1 trillion for 2009, President Bush has targeted 151 federal programs for elimination or reductions. One program that Bush (who famously asked, "Is our children learning?") hopes to trash is the Reading is Fundamental Program, which provides $25 million to distribute books to low-income children. (Reuters, USA Today)
*Update/Correction: This post originally stated that Wilkes' sentencing hearing was scheduled to take place today. It actually is scheduled for one week from today.