NV Gov. Candidate May Have Hired an Illegal Immigrant
"Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Jim Gibbons is facing more tough questions on a whole new issue. These questions revolve around an illegal immigrant whom Gibbons and his wife Dawn employed as their housekeeper and babysitter.
"The woman, Patricia Pastor Sandoval, says she worked for the Gibbons' for years and the family occasionally made her hide in the basement to keep her illegal status a secret." (CBS Las Vegas)
GOP Keeps Justice Department, TPMmuckraker, Busy
"Public corruption cases brought by Justice Department prosecutors in Washington are on the rise, fueled in part by investigations targeting Republican lawmakers in Congress.
"With the Nov. 7 elections looming, prosecutors have moved forward on investigations of three GOP lawmakers in the last month alone. And several Justice Department officials privately hint that even more inquiries -- involving Republicans and Democrats alike -- may be under way....
"Justice Department data show a 60 percent increase over the last five years in government corruption convictions and settlements by its Washington-based public integrity unit. Prosecutions resulted in 84 convictions and settlements in 2005, the data show, compared to 52 in 2001." (AP)
U.S. Attorney Looks Into GOP Rep.'s Land Deal
"A land deal involving Rep. Rick Renzi [R-AZ] is being scrutinized by the U.S. attorney's office in Arizona, a law enforcement official in Washington said Tuesday....
"The official did not specify what land deal was under investigation....
"At least one transaction involving Renzi has raised questions in Arizona recently.
"Records and officials involved in the October 2005 deal say Renzi helped promote the sale of land that netted a former business partner $4.5 million.
"The property eventually was to be part of a swap in which potential buyers could exchange it for land owned by the federal government. And while Renzi's business partner, James Sandlin, made money off the land sale, Renzi never introduced legislation in Congress to complete the swap for the new owners." (AP)
Congressman From Arizona Is the Focus of an Inquiry
"Federal authorities in Arizona have opened an inquiry into whether Representative Rick Renzi introduced legislation that benefited a military contractor that employs his father, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
"The officials said the inquiry was at an early stage and that no search warrants had been issued, suggesting that investigators had yet to determine whether there was a basis to open a formal investigation or empanel a grand jury." (NYTimes)
Scandal Didn't Deter Weldon from Shilling for ITERA
"In early 2002, the Russian energy firm ITERA needed to overhaul its image. Investment fund managers with interests in Russia and numerous press accounts had suggested that Gazprom, a state-controlled conglomerate, had transferred billions of dollars worth of natural gas resources to ITERA and received little or nothing in return. Gazprom insiders involved in those transfers were alleged to have received massive kickbacks in return....
"[Rep. Curt] Weldon [R-PA] was aggressively flacking for ITERA even after he received a detailed briefing that outlined how ITERA reaped the benefits of Gazprom's corruption. I was able to obtain a copy of this briefing, which was prepared by a Russian businessman who worked closely with Weldon. In the letter the businessman stated that ITERA had quickly emerged as a multibillion dollar energy firm for one reason: 'the cover of Gazprom higher management and its personal interest in [ITERA's] prosperity.'
"Had Weldon been interested, a simple Google search would have turned up plenty of dirt on ITERA. Between late 2000 and early 2001, a number of prominent publications, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, had written about shady dealings at Gazprom. Beginning in the late 1990s, the conglomerate sold off companies and assets reportedly worth nearly $6 billion, for which it received little more than $300 million." (Harper's)
Despite Protest, Lawmaker Still Owns Land
"Public land records in Haywood County, N.C., show that a company registered to Rep. Charles Taylor (R-N.C.) owns 17 plots of land in the mountain community of Maggie Valley, an interest that tax records indicate is worth more than $500,000.
"The records raise questions about an assertion Taylor made in an Oct. 12 statement, part of a strong public defense mounted by the House Appropriations 'cardinal' after a Wall Street Journal report alleged this month that Taylor steered federal funds to projects that would benefit businesses in which he has an interest.
"'There is no development called Maggie Valley Leisure Estates,' Taylor wrote, referring to a subdivision mentioned in the article. 'A large development in Maggie Valley is called Wild Acres,' Taylor added, where he held land 36 years ago but sold it 'over 20 years ago.'" (The Hill)
Scandal Limiting Hastert Campaigning
"Sidelined by scandal, House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been largely absent from the campaign trail this month as Democrats mount their strongest challenge in a decade to the Republicans' grip on the House.
"'I'm going to be in 30-some districts,' the Illinois Republican said in early October. 'We're going to be continuing on the trail. We have a story to tell.'
"But that was before the full impact of the Mark Foley episode sank in and before the House ethics committee began investigating what Hastert and other Republican leaders knew about the Florida congressman's inappropriate communications with teenage male pages." (AP)
GOP Candidate Reaches Into Republican Playbook, Asks for Investigation of Investigation Into His Actions
"A Republican congressional candidate whose campaign was linked to an intimidating letter sent to Hispanic voters said Tuesday he would not quit the race if he is charged with a crime....
"The state Department of Justice has opened a voting rights investigation into the letter sent to certain Democratic voters in Orange County....
"Nguyen called for an investigation into what sparked the criminal probe.
"Nathan Barankin, spokesman for the state Department of Justice, said the letters alone triggered it." (AP)
Campaign Scandal Peeves Little Saigon
"For years, the periodic eruptions of controversy in Little Saigon have played out as mostly insular affairs, however raucous â family tiffs in a community that prefers to keep its arguments in-house.
"Now, as if to signify a final rite of passage into U.S. political power, the immigrant community here faces an unwelcome national spotlight with a full-fledged, old-fashioned American scandal centering on a congressional candidate's alleged dirty trick.
"Mostly, people in Little Saigon â an immigrant community that includes parts of Westminster, Garden Grove and Santa Ana â are embarrassed by Tan Nguyen, a Republican who acknowledges that his campaign sent out a letter to thousands of registered Democrats with Latino surnames. It warned in Spanish that immigrants might be jailed or deported if they were to vote. Nguyen says the letter, which has sparked national condemnation, was the work of a campaign staffer and an innocent mistake, though he calls its message accurate and legal." (LATimes)
Scandals in 2 States May Affect Ky. Race
"To the north of [Covington, KY], Ohio Gov. Bob Taft has pleaded no contest to ethics violations. To the south, Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher has acknowledged that people working for him may have wrongly rewarded political supporters with jobs. Two states, two damaged administrations, and two Republican governors.
"Voters along the Kentucky side of the Ohio River have been buffeted by Republican political scandals locally as well as nationally to the point that some in the 4th Congressional District are ready for a change.
"'I'd be voting for Clem Kadiddlehopper if he were the Democratic candidate,' said Randall Buys, a northern Kentucky accountant who is also dissatisfied with President Bush's handling of the Iraq war.
"That attitude spells nothing but trouble for Republican Rep. Geoff Davis as he faces a strong challenge from a former congressman, Democrat Ken Lucas." (AP)
Idle Contractors Add Millions to Iraq Rebuilding
"Overhead costs have consumed more than half the budget of some reconstruction projects in Iraq, according to a government estimate released yesterday, leaving far less money than expected to provide the oil, water and electricity needed to improve the lives of Iraqis.
"The report provided the first official estimate that, in some cases, more money was being spent on housing and feeding employees, completing paperwork and providing security than on actual construction." (NY Times)
Probe of Harman's AIPAC Ties Confirmed
"Federal law enforcement sources confirmed yesterday that the FBI opened an investigation in 2005 into whether Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) improperly enlisted the aid of a pro-Israel lobbying group, but they cautioned that no evidence of wrongdoing was found.
"The inquiry focused on whether Harman had made promises to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in exchange for its support of her desire to become chairman of the House intelligence committee if Democrats take control of the House, several law enforcement sources said." (WaPo)
Though Weakened, New Orleans Lawmaker is Ebullient and Defiant
"With a publicized federal bribery investigation bearing down on him and facing a tight race for the first time in 16 years, Representative William J. Jefferson might be expected to show signs of strain in his re-election campaign here.
"Yet the elephant in the room is not crowding out Mr. Jefferson, a veteran Democratic politician who still maneuvers with relative ease in the world of New Orleans politics, which he has partly owned since his opponents in the Nov. 7 primary election were barely in high school." (NY Times)
Harris Stumbles Towards the Finish Line
"Unconventional is one way to describe the troubled Senate campaign of Republican Katherine Harris.
"Florida editorial page writers went with 'bizarre' and 'freak show.'...
"Harris was Florida's top election official six years ago when she gained national attention by certifying George W. Bush the winner in the state's contested presidential election.
"She was hailed by GOP voters, assailed by Democrats and savaged by late night TV comics and Internet bloggers.
"Now a two-term congresswoman representing Sarasota, Fla., Harris is stumbling toward the finish line of a Senate campaign marred by controversy and indifference from her own party." (AP)
Can the '20th Hijacker" of Sept. 11 Stand Trial?
"In interviews with MSNBC.com â the first time they have spoken publicly â former senior law enforcement agents described their attempts to stop the abusive interrogations [at Guantanamo Bay]. The agents of the Pentagon's Criminal Investigation Task Force, working to build legal cases against suspected terrorists, said they objected to coercive tactics used by a separate team of intelligence interrogators soon after Guantanamo's prison camp opened in early 2002. They ultimately carried their battle up to the office of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, who approved the more aggressive techniques to be used on al-Qahtani and others.
"Although they believed the abusive techniques were probably illegal, the Pentagon cops said their objection was practical. They argued that abusive interrogations were not likely to produce truthful information, either for preventing more al-Qaida attacks or prosecuting terrorists.
"And they described their disappointment when military prosecutors told them not to worry about making a criminal case against al-Qahtani, the suspected '20th hijacker' of Sept. 11, because what had been done to him would prevent him from ever being put on trial." (MSNBC)
Pentagon Official Sentenced in Arms Sale
"A former Defense Department official was sentenced to 18 months in prison and another pleaded guilty Tuesday to selling military equipment in the Middle East and pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"Most of the equipment was unneeded and scheduled for auction, but prosecutors said the illegal deals also included the sale of Humvees that were still weaponized and were not supposed to have been sold." (AP)
Offering Perks, Lenders Court Colleges' Favor
"One student loan company has invited college and university officials, and their spouses, to attend an education conference â in the Caribbean this February, all expenses paid. Another pays universities bonuses based on how much their students borrow. Others gave away gifts like iPods at a recent conference for financial aid administrators.
"With rising tuition and lagging government aid making private student loans a big and increasingly competitive business, these are some of the ways lenders are courting universities in hopes that they will steer students their way." (NY Times)
Abramoff Associate Begins Serving Jail Time
"The New York businessman who joined a powerhouse Washington lobbyist to purchase a fleet of South Florida gambling ships surrendered to federal authorities Monday to begin a nearly six-year prison term for his fraud conviction related to the sale.
"On Monday, Adam Kidan made the one-hour drive from his Long Island home to the Fort Dix Federal Prison in New Jersey, trading his expensive suit for a drab prison uniform for his role in a fraudulent loan deal to buy Dania Beach-based SunCruz Casinos." (Miami Herald)