Voting Machine Company Submits to Inquiry
"Officials of a major American voting-machine company that has come under federal scrutiny because of its primary ownerâs past business ties to the leftist government of Venezuela said yesterday that the company had voluntarily submitted to a federal investigation into its purchase.
"The American company, Sequoia Voting Systems, was bought in March 2005 by the Smartmatic Corporation, a Venezuelan-owned software company whose only previous experience in the voting-machine business had been to overhaul Venezuelaâs electoral machinery before a referendum that confirmed Hugo ChÃ¡vez as president in August 2004." (NY Times)
Transparency Panel Unable to Do Its Job Properly
"A special panel set up last year to reduce excessive secrecy in government is being labeled toothless after its chairman told lawmakers he could not act except at the request of the president.
"'The statute under which we operate provides that the president must request the board undertake such a review before it can proceed,' wrote L. Britt Snider, chairman of the Public Interest Declassification Board to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
"Government transparency advocates say that if the statute is interpreted that way, it makes the board, in the words of Steven Aftergood, of the Federation of American Scientists, 'a White House puppet.'" (UPI)
Embattled Rep. Loses National Funding Support
"Signaling retreat, House Republicans are scaling back television advertising in three highly contested races, officials said Tuesday, including Rep. Curt Weldon's [(R-PA)] bid for an 11th term in Pennsylvania and open seats in Colorado and Ohio....
"Weldon, a 10-term lawmaker, has become ensnared in a federal corruption investigation. It appeared that much of the advertising money the National Republican Congressional Committee had intended for his seat in the campaign's final days would be redirected to help Pennsylvania Reps. Michael Fitzpatrick [(R-PA)] and Jim Gerlach [(R-PA)]." (AP)
Gibbons Helped Pal Win Secret Contracts
"[Warren] Trepp has been a big contributor to [Rep. Jim] Gibbons's [(R-NV)] campaigns, and the congressman has used his clout to intervene on behalf of Mr. Trepp's company, according to congressional records, court documents and interviews. The tiny Reno, Nev., company, eTreppid Technologies, has won millions of dollars in classified federal software contracts from the Air Force, U.S. Special Operations Command and the Central Intelligence Agency." (WSJ)
GOP Calls Dem Mailer Reckless
"The National Democratic Party has spent $50,000 promoting a nominal Republican write-in candidate to succeed former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a move the more prominent GOP campaign called a "desperate" effort to split the write-in vote.
"The mailout on behalf of write-in candidate Don Richardson describes positions potentially appealing to conservatives who, according to a recent Chronicle-11 News poll, make up at least 55 percent of the district's population.
"'Don Richardson supports President Bush's Patriot Act,' the mailer says. 'Do you?'
"It also says he would put troops on the border to stop illegal immigration, allow law enforcement officials to wiretap suspects, read their e-mail and conduct random searches, all without a warrant.
"'I don't remember saying all that,' said Richardson, a retired Air Force major, but he agrees with the statements." (Houston Chronicle)
Schwarzenegger Nixes Perks for Staff
"Aides to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger can no longer accept gifts from business interests under new office rules aimed at minimizing any appearance of conflicts of interest.
"The policy, reported by the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday, is stricter than state law and represents an about-face for the governor, who in past years has taken a permissive approach to freebies.
"State lobbying reports show that Schwarzenegger aides over the last year, for example, have accepted free tickets to Disneyland, Rolling Stones concerts and sporting events." (AP)
3rd Marine to Plead Guilty in Iraq Killing
"Another Marine charged with kidnapping and murdering an Iraqi man has agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges, his attorney said Monday.
"Thomas Watt, attorney for Lance Cpl. Tyler A. Jackson, declined to discuss details of the agreement but confirmed that a deal has been reached and that his client is due in court next week to plead guilty to some charges.
"Jackson, 23, of Tracy, is charged with murder, kidnapping, conspiracy, housebreaking and larceny. He is the third service member to have made a plea deal in the case, in which seven Camp Pendleton-based Marines and a Navy corpsman were charged with murdering 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad." (AP)
Mark Foley's Film Career
"Mark Foley was adept at playing the role of a Republican congressman trying to save at-risk kids.
"He did it for nearly 12 years as chair of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children.
"He also did it in a high-camp, low-budget action flop called Strike Force that went straight to DVD.
"In the film, which also features a cameo by Burt Reynolds, Foley plays a congressman (identified in the credits only as 'Republican Fairchild') who hires a band of violent, jet-setting vigilantes to rescue his kidnapped daughter." (Radar)
Ex-Air Marshal Fired Over Leak Sues TSA
"A former federal air marshal filed suit Monday against the Transportation Security Administration for firing him after he revealed an unclassified plan to remove marshals from long-distance flights.
"The 2003 disclosure by Robert MacLean came just days after the agency had warned airlines of a hijacking threat to overseas flights. News of the plan to remove marshals from long-distance flights generated outrage in Congress and forced the TSA to reverse its decision....
"Whistle-blower advocates say the case could reaffirm protections for federal employees who release information, as well as set limits on the administration's designation of some material as "sensitive but unclassified," which limits access to that information." (LA Times)
No Penalty for Voting Systems Lapse
"The Justice Department isn't penalizing states that fail to upgrade voting systems by next week's elections, a requirement passed by Congress in 2002....
"[Prosecutors] have not penalized states, or tried to hold them in contempt, if they failed to comply with the 2002 Help America Vote Act, [Assistant Attorney General Wan J.] Kim said. The law required states to plan for switching to electronic ballot machines and have a voter registration database up and working in time for the 2006 elections." (AP)
Many Eyes Will Watch the Polls
"Thousands of lawyers, election monitors and volunteers with video cameras will be mobilized on Election Day in an effort to guard against problems at the polls.
"The Justice Department will dispatch more than 800 observers, a record for a non-presidential election year, to look for evidence of discrimination, intimidation and other obstacles to voter accessibility in at least 20 states.
"The Democratic Party has a 50-state voter-protection effort and an estimated 7,000 lawyers at the ready. Liberal groups have set up hotlines for voters to call if they are denied the right to vote. And hundreds of people plan to film interviews at polling places where voters are being challenged that day.
"Fueling the activity this year: dozens of close elections that could decide control of Congress and the potential for problems caused by electronic voting machines, statewide databases and identification requirements." (USA Today)
NYC Judge Refuses to Toss Terror Charges
"A judge refused to toss out charges against a jazz musician, a doctor and two other men accused of supporting terrorists.
"Defense lawyers had argued that the men were arrested through entrapment and outrageous conduct by an overzealous government in late 2001, but U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska refused to dismiss the charges Monday." (AP)
Blagojevich Holds Steady Despite Latest Allegations
"Gov. Rod Blagojevich maintained a sizable advantage over Republican Judy Baar Topinka even as new corruption allegations surfaced involving his close supporters, a new Tribune/WGN-Ch. 9 poll shows....
"The findings of the poll, the final survey of the general election campaign, show the governor's contest has largely remained static for the last two weeks. A similar poll conducted Oct. 8-11 showed the Democratic incumbent with a 14-percentage-point edge over Topinka, the three-term Republican state treasurer.
Since that earlier October poll, one top Blagojevich fundraiser, Antoin 'Tony' Rezko was indicted on federal kickback charges. On Friday, another Blagojevich confidant and fundraiser, Christopher Kelly, was referenced along with Rezko in the federal plea-bargain of political insider Stuart Levine. Levine pleaded guilty to charges that he used his position on two state boards to try to extort kickbacks and campaign contributions." (Chicago Tribune)
Two Kicked Out of Bush Event Win Court Order
"Two people ejected from a speech by President Bush in Denver in 2005, allegedly because of an anti-war bumper sticker on a car they drove to the event, won a court order Monday they hope will uncover who gave the order to kick them out.
"Leslie Weise and Alex Young, two of the three people removed from the taxpayer-funded event, are suing two Denver men for actually ousting them. But they believe a White House official gave the order....
"On Monday, U.S. District Judge Wiley Daniel rejected a motion to dismiss the case by defendants Michael Casper and Jay Klinkerman, who worked as volunteers at the event.
"That decision allows attorneys for Weise and Young to question the two Denver men under oath." (Rocky Mountain News)