Voters Won't See Report on Foley Scandal
"The House ethics committee has been working hard to determine whether Republicans covered up Mark Foley's electronic messages to male former pages, but even 12-hour workdays will not bring conclusions by Election Day.
"The lack of a report by Tuesday leaves voters to sort through conflicting Republican accounts in deciding whether GOP leaders did not protect the teenage pages." (WaPo)
Judge Rules Against Libby
"Former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby will not be allowed to use a memory expert at his perjury and obstruction trial, a federal judge ruled Thursday, blocking a key tactic in Libby's defense strategy.
"Libby, who is accused of lying to investigators in the CIA leak case, wanted an expert to testify that memory is unreliable, especially during times of stress. Libby says he had national security issues on his mind and any misstatements he made about the leak of CIA officer Valerie Plame's name were mistakes, not lies.
"U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said allowing a memory expert would be a waste of time and would only confuse the jury. Walton said jurors, like everyone else, understand that memory sometimes falters and can judge for themselves whether witnesses are reliable." (AP)
Karen Weldon's Ties to Serbs Detailed
"As her father the congressman publicly supported a Serbian family with close ties to war criminal Slobodan Milosevic, lobbyist Karen Weldon in 2003 won a $240,000 contract to help improve the family's image.
"Her relationship with the Karic family continued into late 2004, months after the House ethics committee began an investigation of her contracts and the role of her father, Rep. Curt Weldon (R., Pa.), The Inquirer has learned.
"A newly obtained State Department cable shows that she tried to help the wife of Serbian tycoon Bogoljub Karic get a visa to visit Florida. The State Department - noting the request came from a congressman's daughter - opposed the visa, citing links to 'terrorist activities.'" (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Foreign Lobbies Took Guise of Nonprofits
"Early last year, two little-known nonprofit groups paid for Rep. John T. Doolittle [R-CA] and his 12-year-old daughter to travel to South Korea and Malaysia. Their last stop was the Berjaya Beach & Spa Resort on the Malaysian island of Langkawi, where they bunked at an oceanfront chalet staffed with a personal butler, got massages and rode water scooters on Burau Bay.
"Doolittle's junket, which cost $29,400, was among the most expensive privately sponsored trips by members of Congress in recent years. The two groups that split the bills were not ordinary nonprofits. They were fronts for vigorous lobbying campaigns bankrolled by foreign entities and were operated by a Washington lobbying firm, Alexander Strategy Group, according to public records and people who worked with the firm....
"Once a major lobbying firm, Alexander Strategy Group closed down early this year. Its owner, Edwin A. Buckham, former chief of staff to now-departed House majority leader Tom DeLay, is under investigation in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, according to lawyers and witnesses with knowledge of the probe. Authorities are also reviewing Buckham's use in the 1990s of another nonprofit, the U.S. Family Network, the sources said." (WaPo)
U.S. Web Archive Is Said to Reveal a Nuclear Primer
"Last March, the federal government set up a Web site to make public a vast archive of Iraqi documents captured during the war. The Bush administration did so under pressure from Congressional Republicans who had said they hoped to 'leverage the Internet' to find new evidence of the prewar dangers posed by Saddam Hussein.
"But in recent weeks, the site has posted some documents that weapons experts say are a danger themselves: detailed accounts of Iraqâs secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war. The documents, the experts say, constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb.
"Last night, the government shut down the Web site after The New York Times asked about complaints from weapons experts and arms-control officials." (NYTimes)
Leaks About Lawmakers Prompt Warnings
"Director Robert S. Mueller III of the F.B.I. has issued a stern message to the bureauâs nearly 30,000 employees warning them against leaks of confidential information after recent news articles disclosed criminal inquiries involving incumbent lawmakers, mainly House Republicans.
"'There have been a number of recent stories in the press attributing sensitive law enforcement information to "federal law enforcement officials,"' Mr. Mueller said in an Oct. 26 e-mail message. 'While I cannot say they have come from F.B.I. employees, such disclosures do serious damage to our investigations and risk unfairly tarnishing the subjects of our investigations who enjoy the presumption of innocence.'â (NY Times)
Land Deal Investigation May Have Brought Dem Challenger Within Striking Distance
"News reports last week said the investigation into [Rep. Rick] Renziâs [R-AZ] real estate deals centers on whether he used his office to help a former business partner make a sizable profit on a piece of land.
"The U.S. Attorneyâs office in Arizona says the probe is still in its initial stages; Renzi, who denies having done anything wrong, insists the probe will come to nothing and decries what he calls a leak that led to the publication of the stories just days before the Nov. 7 election.
"Nonetheless, the flap is at least an unhelpful distraction for Renzi, especially in a year when a series of ethics controversies involving other lawmakers have added to the very difficult political environment facing the Republican Party nationally.
"It also came at a time when Renzi had already slipped from his status as a strong favorite, with a poll showing the evaporation of an 11-percentage point lead he had held over his Democratic opponent, civil rights lawyer Ellen Simon." (CQ Politics)
Lamont Files an FEC Complaint Over Lieberman's Expenditure of Petty Cash
" A review of the use of consultant services by Sen. Joseph I. Liebermanâs campaign, which in turn dispensed large amounts of petty cash, raises questions about the practice.
"Liebermanâs Democratic opponent, Ned Lamont, has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over the $387,000 in petty cash the senator spent in the waning days before the August Democratic primary.
"Political committees may make expenditures of not more than $100 to any person or for a transaction out of the petty cash fund and are required to keep a written journal documenting the payments.
"The campaign has said it is under no legal obligation to release the journal and has no plans to do so. Lieberman also said their attorney has assured him that they have done nothing illegal." (New Haven Register)
Menendez Seeks to Bury Image of Shady Dealer
"The notion that [Senator Robert] Menendez [D-NJ], 52, rolls in the gutter before lunch, that he is a political boss as expert in the manipulation of political IOUs and shivs as he is in the intricacies of trade policy, has trailed like a mutt after Menendez throughout his Senate campaign.
"His opponent, Republican Tom Kean Jr., a semi-obscure state senator and the trust-fund scion of a multigenerational political powerhouse, cannot clear his throat without intoning that Menendez is "under federal investigation." There are, in Kean's telling, Menendez's questionable rental contract with a local not-for-profit, the pressure his advisers applied to get an ally hired at a local hospital, and so on and on.
"Even if these charges prove true, it's not clear such behavior is illegal or disabling. In New Jersey the operating political philosophy is described as "pay to play," and the occasional indictment might be viewed as part of the life cycle of politics." (WaPo)
IGs Probe Allegations On Global Warming Data
"Inspectors general at two agencies have begun an investigation into whether the Bush administration has suppressed government scientists' research on global warming, officials at NASA and the Commerce Department confirmed yesterday.
"Prompted by a request this fall by 14 Democratic senators, the IGs are examining whether political appointees have prevented climate researchers at NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from conveying their findings to the public." (WaPo)
Trading Contracts for a Condo: Bribery Charges Against UN Official
"A top official at the United Nations has been charged with helping a friend get more than $60 million in U.N. contracts in exchange for a most coveted commodity: an underpriced New York City apartment.
"Sanjaya Bahel was stripped of his diplomatic immunity by the U.N. Secretary-General and indicted for influence peddling. His friend Nishan Kohli was also indicted.
"As head of the U.N. procurement office, Bahel allegedly steered contracts for computers and other equipment to companies represented by Kohli; prosecutors say he even canceled competing bids and ordered re-bids to give Kohli an unfair advantage." (The Blotter)
S.D. Struggles With Its Own Page Scandal
"The Senate is scheduled to convene in a special session Nov. 27 to look into allegations that Sen. Dan Sutton, a Democrat from the eastern town of Flandreau, "sexually groped" an 18-year-old page in this year's legislative session.
"After hearing evidence, the Senate could take actions ranging from imposing no punishment up to expelling Sutton, a 36-year-old insurance agent." (AP)
Md. Dems Slam Voter Credential Guide
"Maryland Democrats on Thursday accused Republicans of launching a 'conscious, premeditated' campaign of voter intimidation after a report described a handbook advising Republican poll watchers to challenge the credentials of any voters they suspect are fraudulent.
"The handbook, obtained by The Washington Post for a story in Thursday's editions, urges poll watchers to warn election judges that they could face jail time if they fail to act." (AP)