An Era Ends: Abramoff Gives Up Luxury Skybox
Facing the real prospect of jail time, fallen GOP superlobbyist Jack Abramoff has given up his treasured $1000-a-game seats in Washington, D.C.'s Verizon Center, home of the city's basketball and hockey teams, the Wizards and the Capitals. Abramoff had used the seats as perks for lawmakers and staff, and used the center's facilities to host fundraising events for congressional campaigns. (The Hill)
In WV, GOP "Veteran" Candidate Facing Questions
Chris Wakim has run against entrenched, scandal-tarred House incumbent Alan Mollohan by claiming to be a "Gulf War veteran." But he never went to the Gulf -- Wakim served from 1988 to 1991 at an Army base in Massachusetts. Also, Wakim has claimed he earned a public policy degree from Harvard University's prestigious Kennedy School; in fact, he received a "Masters in Liberal Arts" from the affiliated Harvard Extension School, a so-called "open enrollment" night program.
Massive Corruption in Iraq
"One Iraqi official has estimated that corruption costs the country $4 billion annually. A recent survey indicated a third of Iraqis polled had paid a bribe to get products or services in the past 12 months and that they had a "core mistrust" of the army and police." (AP)
Lobbyist Wife of Former GOP Lawmaker Used Old Access Pin
"While lobbying for Continental Airlines on the pension bill, [Rebecca] Cox [wife of former Rep. Christopher Cox (R-CA), now SEC chairman] wore her Memberâs spouse pin, which, of course, gave her access to restricted areas of the Capitol where conferees were meeting until the wee hours of the morning Friday.
"Aides saw Cox at 1:15 a.m. standing outside the office of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), where conferees were scheduled to be meeting (though, in reality, they had moved down the hall to another Senatorâs hideaway). Cox, they said, was wearing her spouse pin conspicuously on a necklace.
"'She had it prominently displayed on her necklace,' a senior Republican aide to one of the Senate conferees [said]. "No other lobbyist could have gotten into that area.'" (Roll Call, sub. req'd.)
Border Agents Let Fake IDs Go Through
"Undercover investigators entered the United States using fake documents repeatedly this year -- including some cases in which Homeland Security Department agents didn't ask for identification. At nine border crossings on the Mexico and Canadian borders, agents "never questioned the authenticity of the counterfeit documents," according to Government Accountability Office testimony to be released Wednesday." (AP)
Court: Prosecutors May Demand 'NYT' Phone Records
"A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that federal prosecutors investigating a leak about a terrorism funding probe can see the phone records of two New York Times reporters. A panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held in a 2-1 vote that prosecutors had a valid interest in seeing who had contacted the reporters." (AP, NYT)
Shareholder Sues Washington U.S. Senate Candidate
"A shareholder in an insurance company on Tuesday sued a former executive who is running for U.S. Senate, claiming that his $28 million payout upon leaving his job was fraudulent and wasteful. The claim against Republican candidate Mike McGavick resembles criticism from state Democrats, who have filed a federal campaign complaint about what they called his improper "golden parachute" after leaving Safeco Insurance Co." (AP, Seattle Times)
State Senator Switches Parties In Exchange for Campaign Donations
"A former state legislator who changed parties in 2003, enabling Democratic House Speaker Jim Black to stay in power, pleaded guilty Tuesday to taking $50,000 in campaign contributions to make the switch. Former Rep. Michael Decker could get up to five years in prison at sentencing Nov. 1. Prosecutors said Decker supported a particular candidate for speaker in exchange for the money. The prosecutors did not mention Black's name in court or in a document that detailed the charges, and did not identify those who were extorted." (AP)
Local Military Contractor's Campaign Donations Questioned
A Florida contractor donated $4,000 to Republican Martha Rainville's campaign (she's running for a House seat in Vermont). "Two months after receiving the donation, Rainville asked Vermont's two U.S. Senators for help on a $10 million appropriation that may have benefited Raydon, which employs about 300 people in Daytona Beach." (Daytona Beach News Journal)