TPM News

Remember your college years? The test cramming, the questionable decisions when it came to alcohol, the even more questionable decisions when it came to dating? And who can forget that classic college prank -- the one where you kidnap a girl from the swim team, blindfold her, and try to force her to take bong hits before making her kneel in a creek and pray to "Aqua Buddha"?

What's that you say? You never tried that one? Well you must not have attended college with Rand Paul.

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The House ethics committee today announced the specific charges against Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), accusing her of improperly using her office to help a bank in which her husband owned stock.

The list of charges, called a statement of alleged violation, details three rules Waters allegedly broke: one, that members must "reflect creditably on the House;" two, that members may not "receive compensation" by improperly using their Congressional influence; and three, that members should never "dispense special favors" or "accept for himself or his family favors or benefits."

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BP and the Justice Department announced today that BP has made its first contribution into the $20 billion escrow fund which will pay claims related to the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

BP's first payment was $3 billion.

In a press release, BP spelled out its payment plan: $3 billion today, $2 billion at the end of the year, and $1.25 billion per quarter from then on.

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is not taking it easy going into his August 24 primary. In fact, has a new attack ad going after former Rep. J.D. Hayworth's links to the Jack Abramoff scandal.

"Congressman J.D. Hayworth did favors for the infamous Jack Abramoff and his friends," the announcer says. "He received $150,000 from Abramoff and his clients. John McCain exposed the Abramoff scandal. Jack went to prison, and most politicians gave back all the tainted money. But not J.D. He kept the money. John McCain -- character matters."

The TPM Poll Average gives McCain a lead of 53.6%-32.1%. The Republican primary will be held on August 24.

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Democratic Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias has a new ad in his state's Senate race, combining two key narratives: He's g after Republican Congressman Mark Kirk for being a liar, and for being tied to former President George W. Bush.

The ad begins with news snippets of Kirk's embellished statements about his military record, along with the condemnations that he had received from newspapers. "Now, typical Washington politician Kirk is lying about Alexi Giannoulias in ads denounced as smears," the announcer says. "In D.C. 20 years, Kirk voted for the Bush policies that wrecked the economy, and then said unemployment's not a 'big issue.'"

The TPM Poll Average gives Kirk a very narrow edge of 41.1%-40.6%.

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They say all politics is local, and it seems that in the race for the Republican nomination for New York governor, candidates Carl Paladino and Rick Lazio are taking that quite literally. As the September 14 primary approaches, Paladino and Lazio are devoting a whole lot of their attention to opposing the Cordoba House Muslim community center, which was cleared for construction a few blocks from Ground Zero last week.

So if this is a central issue of the Republican primary, the question then becomes: Who hates the "Ground Zero mosque" more? Let's look at the evidence...

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A new Rasmussen poll of the New Hampshire Senate race finds Republican Kelly Ayotte -- the front runner in the Republican primary -- with a 13-point lead over Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes, 51%-38%. The latest numbers show Hodes down six points to GOP hopeful Bill Binnie, 46%-40%.

Ayotte has held an advantage in the polls through the duration of the campaign. The last Rasmussen poll, conducted on July 12, showed her leading Hodes 49%-37%. In late July, a University of New Hampshire survey found similar results, with Ayotte on top 45%-37%. A PPP poll from July 25 showed a much closer contest, with the GOPer holding a slight 3-point lead -- a statistical tie, given the survey's ±3.26 margin of error -- but no other poll in the last few months has produced a similar result.

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In yet another sign of how Gov. Charlie Crist (I-FL) is mopping up Democratic support in the Florida Senate race, the ex-Republican is now getting some fundraising help from none other than Mark Penn.

The former top pollster and campaign strategist for Hillary Clinton will be hosting a $4,800-per-person fundraising reception for Crist this Wednesday, the St. Petersburg Times reports. This development shows the further marginalization of Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek and Dem businessman Jeff Greene. In the TPM Poll Averages, Crist leads Rubio and Meek by 37.8%-33.2%-14.7%, and Crist leads Rubio and Greene by 37.5%-32.9%-16.4%.

Memo to Crist: By all means, take Penn's money. But whatever you do besides that, do not let him give you any advice about micro-targeting Dem voters.

It looks like Connecticut's Democratic gubernatorial primary will go right down to the wire. A new Quinnipiac survey of the race shows Ned Lamont edging Dan Malloy 45%-42% -- a statistical tie, given the poll's ±4.6-point margin of error. The primary is tomorrow.

While Lamont's support has hovered around 45% in the past month, Malloy's has jumped five points since July 13, when a Quinnipiac poll pegged his support at 37%. The TPM Poll Average shows Lamont leading 43.2%-33.0%.

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