Did Calif. Lawmaker Get Special Treatment on Land Sale?
"A water and sewer district in northwestern Riverside County apparently circumvented state law when it sold 4 acres of public land to Inland Rep. Ken Calvert [(R-CA)] and his investment partners for $1.2 million this spring.
"An investigation. . . found no evidence that the Jurupa Community Services District first offered the land to other public agencies, a requirement of state law intended to provide more recreational land.
"The district's general manager said other agencies were notified, but representatives of those agencies said they received no such notice. The district could not provide evidence of the notification, saying relevant files had been misplaced." (Riverside Press-Enterprise)
Federal Judge Rules NSA Wiretapping Illegal
"The ruling was the first judicial assessment of the Bush administrationâs arguments in defense of the surveillance program, which has provoked fierce legal and political debate since it was disclosed last December. But the issue is far from settled, with the Justice Department filing an immediate appeal and succeeding in allowing the wiretapping to continue for the time being." (NYTimes, Washington Post)
Inquiry Suggests Marines Excised Files on Killings
"A high-level military investigation into the killings of 24 Iraqis in Haditha last November has uncovered instances in which American marines involved in the episode appear to have destroyed or withheld evidence, according to two Defense Department officials briefed on the case.
"The investigation found that an official company logbook of the unit involved had been tampered with and that an incriminating video taken by an aerial drone the day of the killings was not given to investigators until Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the second-ranking commander in Iraq, intervened, the officials said." (NYTimes)
Abramoff-Tied Ex-Procurement Chief Argues for New Trial
"An attorney for David Safavian, the former chief of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy who was convicted of obstruction of justice and other charges in June, filed a motion for a new trial last month. Government lawyers have responded with a 27-page document opposing the motion. A judge will hear arguments for both sides in court next Thursday." (GovExec)
Houston Councilwoman Wins GOP Support for Vote
"Republican Party precinct chairs endorsed Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs on Thursday night as the write-in candidate for the congressional district vacated by Tom DeLay.
"'Hopefully, now we will have some clarity as to who our one candidate will be,' said state GOP chair Tina Benkiser, who called the meeting. 'Certainly if we have one Republican candidate on the ballot we'll get behind and start making the calls and walking the precincts and licking the envelopes and running a hard grass-roots campaign.'" (Houston Chronicle)
Judge: Tobacco Firms Deceived Smokers
"A federal judge ruled Thursday that the nation's top cigarette makers violated racketeering laws, deceiving the public for years about the health hazards of smoking, but said she couldn't order them to pay the billions of dollars the government had sought. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler did order the companies to publish in newspapers and on their Web sites "corrective statements" on the adverse health effects and addictiveness of smoking and nicotine." (AP)
Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) Triggers Flap By Praising Henry Ford
"A flap has erupted in Arizona over a Scottsdale congressmanâs recent book slamming illegal immigration, in which he praised thoughts by automaker Henry Ford on âAmericanizationâ that are regarded by historians as anti-Jewish." (Forward)
Union Backing Redistricting Fights
"One of the nation's largest labor unions, joining with other Democratic-leaning groups, is forming a political committee to raise millions of dollars for redistricting fights with the GOP. The formation of the political group Foundation for the Future, called a 527 because of the part of the tax code section that governs it, was at least partially a response to aggressive redistricting tactics by Republicans." (AP)
Inner Circle of Donors Includes Those With State Business and Appointments
"Three [donors who gave more than $25,000] have lucrative contracts to help build [Texas Governor Rick] Perry's (R) multibillion-dollar toll-road initiative. The state has deposited millions in investment funds operated by three other top-tier givers. And 16 are Perry appointees to coveted boards, including the Parks and Wildlife Commission and state university regent boards." (Dallas Morning News)
Guarding the Guards at the Border
"Several veteran Border Patrol agents in Arizona told The Washington Times they were issued standing orders to be within five minutes of National Guard troops along the border and that Border Patrol units were pulled from other regions to protect the Guard units -- leaving their own areas short-handed. The agents, who refer to the assignment as "the nanny patrol," said most of the Guard troops are not allowed to carry loaded weapons, despite a significant increase in border violence directed at Border Patrol agents and other law-enforcement personnel over the past year." (Washington Times)
Libertarian Looks to Secure the Conservative Vote in Texas 22
"Though Texas' 22nd District is strongly conservative -- [former Rep. Tom] DeLay [R-TX] got 55 percent of the vote in 2004 and 63 percent in 2002 -- the Republican Party removed its line from the ballot after courts ruled that it could not substitute another candidate for Mr. DeLay, who resigned from Congress under a cloud of scandal in June. That leaves Mr. Smither, the Libertarian, as the only name on the ballot against the Democratic candidate, former Rep. Nick Lampson. Republicans say they will unite to support a write-in candidate. But Mr. Barr said that because "it's very unlikely that a write-in candidate can win," backing Mr. Smither is the best hope of ensuring that the district "continues to be represented by a conservative." (Washington Times)
Judge Denies Bond for Ex-Atlanta Mayor
"A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected a request by former Mayor Bill Campbell to remain free on bail while he fights his conviction for tax evasion, a prosecution spokesman said." (AP)