The Daily Muck

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The Boston Globe offers a great refresher on John McCain’s involvement in the Keating Five scandal. William K. Black, a senior federal savings and loan regulator at the time of the Keating Five scandal, remains “very upset that what they did caused such damage” ($3 billion to the federal government) and Dennis DeConcini, the former Democratic senator from Arizona and another Keating Five player says that McCain got a “free ride.” Black also asserts that McCain pressured federal regulators to ease off of Lincoln because his wife had invested money with its chair, Charles Keating, and because Keating contributed money to McCain’s campaign and loaned him his house in the Bahamas. (Boston Globe)

Amidst rumors that disgruntled members of the minority party have threatened to bring ethics charges against key House Democrats under a proposed new ethics panel, Democrats in the House have postponed a vote on the Office of Congressional Ethics. A new Republican counterproposal has also caused delay. The Republican plan would allow for outside groups to file complaints, require monthly reports to the public, and alter the proposed composition of the panel to include four former lawmakers. (Politico)

Crucial federal regulatory agencies are hamstrung by unfilled seats – the Consumer Product Safety Commission does not have enough members to meet, the Federal Election Commission and the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission can’t achieve a quorum, the Council of Economic Advisers has a single member, the National Labor Relations Board can fill only two of its five seats, and the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board has three of of its five positions filled. President Bush blames these regulatory failings on the Senate, but an expert on federal nominations at New York University believes that it is ” a real tribute to the problems of the Bush administration.” (Politico)Despite negative publicity Swiss bank Julius Baer is continuing its lawsuit against Wikileaks.org to have documents removed from the website. A hearing has been set for Friday, but so far Wikileaks “has not shown up in court nor has it responded to court orders for legal filings stating its position.” (AP)

Colonel Morris Davis, former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay, says he plans to testify as a defense witness in the trial of Osama bin Laden’s driver, Salid Ahmed Hamdan. Davis who has spoken out against what he sees as “political interference” with the military tribunal system, says that he is “satisfied that there is a strong case against Mr. Hamdan” but that “the process should be fair.” (ABC News)

Mark Rey, a former timber industry lobbyist and the Bush administration official who oversees the Forest Service for the Department of Agriculture, apologized to a federal judge for his agency’s slow preparation of environmental studies on the impact of chemical firefighting. Judge Donald Molloy was not impressed by Rey’s apology but nonetheless decided not to hold Rey in contempt and sentence him to jail. In 2005, Molloy ruled that Rey’s agency violated the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. (AP)

An investigation into the Marine Corps’ delay in deploying bast-resistant vehicles to soldiers in Iraq will also probe whether the Marines were negligent in not equipping soldiers with Compact High Power Laser Dazzlers more quickly. The laser, which “emits a stream of light that temporarily impairs a driver’s vision” and is used to “divert drivers and people from checkpoints and convoys” and its “delays of nearly 18 months may have led to an untold number of Iraqi civilian casualties when U.S. troops mistook” a less capable laser “for the enemy and fired.” (AP)

The State Department is conducting a “top-to-bottom” review of the construction of the new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The project has been plagued by delays and other problems, and while the former official in charge of construction declared the embassy “substantially completed” the current “construction chief has rejected his predecessor’s certification.” (McClatchy)

Both Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are concerned about the impact of recent court rulings on whistle-blowers. Lawmakers believe that the federal whistle-blower law – the False Claims Act – needs to be expanded so that fewer legitimate cases are dismissed for technicalities. The law, which has allowed the U.S. government to recover more than $20 billion since 1986, has not been amended since that year. (New York Times)

The web site LegiStorm has posted financial disclosure records online that detail (sub. req.) links “between Senate aides and their bosses’ re-election efforts” along with the “often close personal relationships between staff and lobbyists.” (Roll Call)

We will be learning a lot more about Detroit Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick’s extramarital affair and the efforts of the mayor and city lawyers to cover it up. A Michigan Supreme Court voted unanimously yesterday to reject the city’s appeal to keep the cover-up documents private. The release of a 196-page transcript shows that the mayor settled a $8.4 million whistle-blower lawsuit from a police officer just hours after he learned that the plaintiff’s lawyer intended to expose text messages documenting Kilpatrick’s affair. (New York Times)

David Walker, who will soon be resigning as the head of the Government Accountability Office where he has served since 1998, believes that “Washington is badly broken.” The worst example of wastefulness that Walker cites is the 2006 prescription drug benefit plan, a program whose real costs ($8 trillion according to Walker) Republicans hid from the public. (Politico)