TPM News

From the AP:

Colorado authorities have opened a criminal investigation into whether an attack ad run by GOP Rep. Bob Beauprez against his opponent for governor illegally used confidential information from a federal law enforcement database.

Democrat Bill Ritter's campaign has suggested the information was taken from the computerized crime records.

But John Marshall, the congressman's spokesman, said Tuesday that the details came from an informant he refused to identify. He said the campaign is cooperating with investigators....

The governor has asked the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to expedite its investigation. Use of the federal criminal database for any purpose other than law enforcement is a crime punishable by fines and up to a year in prison.

Yesterday, Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI) revealed that the House Page Board had discussed allegations of improper behavior toward pages by a second lawmaker.

It's Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), the AP reports. More:

Overseers of the House page program this week discussed a camping trip that Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz. took with two former pages and others in 1996 — an outing now under review by the Justice Department, a congressional source said Tuesday.

The House Page Board, consisting of three lawmakers and two senior House officials, did not have any new information beyond recent news stories on the Kolbe trip. The source is familiar with the discussions but is not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Last week, NBC reported that the FBI had started a "preliminary assessment" of the trip.

The top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released a summary of the panel's probe into how Duke Cunningham used the panel's staff and resources to forward his corrupt ways.

You can read the summary here.

The probe, ordered last December, found what looks like new dirt on former CIA #3 Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, who's been drawn into the Cunningham investigation. But the report concluded that the panel itself was clear of wrongdoing in Cunningham's case.

Indeed, one of Duke's main bribers, Mitchell Wade, even tried to cozy up to staffers, but he kind of weirded them out, according to the five-page executive summary released by Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), the panel's ranking member.

The report identified three troubling activities, and recommended they be referred to the Justice Department or national security agencies for further investigation:

Read More →

New details are popping up about the Feds' interest in Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) for his ties to Jack Abramoff. But Doolittle is doing his best to put as bright a face on that as possible.

In a statement yesterday, Doolittle said that he "has no reason to believe that he is the target of an investigation."

As we've noted here before, the "not a target" line is a beloved one for mucked-up pols (Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) used it just last month). It is, of course, a relatively meaningless statement that sounds exonerating. Subjects of an investigation typically only receive target letters from prosecutors as a prelude to indictment. So Doolittle might as well be bragging that he hasn't been indicted yet.

We've known that Doolittle was under investigation for approximately two years. In 2004, investigators subpoenaed the records for his wife's consulting company (Julie Doolittle worked for Abramoff for two years). And since last November, Doolittle has consistently made the short list of lawmakers reportedly under investigation for their ties to Abramoff (as to why, see here).

Doolittle, via his spokeswoman, also revealed to The Sacramento Bee Monday that his lawyer has spoken several times with the Justice Department.

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GOP-Connected Coin Dealer Goes on Trial in Ohio "Less than a month before Election Day, a politically connected coin dealer accused of embezzling from a state investment in rare coins went on trial Monday in a scandal that has rocked Ohio's Republican Party.

"Tom Noe, 52, is accused of stealing more than $2 million from a fund for injured workers and spending it on his business and renovating his home in the Florida Keys....

"Noe, once a member of state boards that oversee the Ohio Turnpike and Ohio's public universities, was a top GOP fundraiser who gave more than $105,000 to Republicans, including President Bush and Gov. Bob Taft during the 2004 campaign....

"Defense attorney William Wilkinson said Noe's contract with the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation allowed him to borrow money from the investment fund or loan it to others.

"'You can't steal something from the owner of property if they give you permission to use it,' Wilkinson said....

The trial is expected to last at least six weeks, through the Nov. 7 election." (AP, Toledo Blade)

Read More →

Reuters reporting:

A U.S. congressional board which oversees a Capitol Hill internship program rocked by a sex scandal, discussed allegations on Monday involving a second lawmaker, said Rep. Dale Kildee, a Michigan Democrat.

Kildee made the comment as he emerged from a closed-door meeting of a House ethics committee, which has been focused on the case of former Republican Rep. Mark Foley of Florida, who resigned last month following disclosure he sent inappropriate electronic messages to male teenage interns, known as pages.

"It's only been allegations made," Kildee told reporters of the House page board's discussion about a second lawmaker, who he declined to identify.

The FBI investigation into Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) is growing -- but so is the left-wing conspiracy against him, according to the blustery, theory-prone lawmaker.

In a two-and-a-half minute interview with the Daily Pennsylvanian's blog, The Spin, Weldon fleshed out earlier charges that the Democrats are behind the federal probe into his dealings. Agents raided six locations today in connection to the investigation, including his daughter's home.

In addition to blaming the D.C.-based watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and its head, Melanie Sloan (who filed a complaint against Weldon with the FBI -- in 2004), the cabal (according to Weldon) now includes: former President Bill Clinton; former CIA official Mary McCarthy; former senior Justice Department official/9-11 Commission panelist Jamie Gorelick; former national security adviser Sandy Berger ("I know what he stole -- I know why he stole it!"); and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

He has the documents to prove it! They're in a secret file, right next to his proof of Iraqi WMD.

Rep. Curt Weldon's (R-PA) daughter had her house raided today by FBI agents, who raided five other locations, all connected to her lobbying activities. The players involved, the favors they won from Weldon, the money changing hands -- it's not a simple story, of course.

But that doesn't explain why, in covering the fiasco, CNN apparently took their cue from Rep. Curt Weldon's (R-PA) trademark bluster and hyperbole. Rather than explain why Weldon's in so much trouble, CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Dana Bash devoted most of their coverage on the unfolding FBI probe to ask the burning question of whether the investigation is a massive liberal conspiracy against Weldon, as he has charged. (Absent evidence, as is his wont.)


For more on the source of Weldon's paranoia, see our earlier post.

The special subcommittee of the House ethics panel that's looking into the Foley scandal met again today, hearing testimony from two key witnesses.

Danielle Savoy, a former aide to Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-LA) -- who sponsored one of the pages who received inappropriate emails from Foley -- spoke with the panel this morning. Savoy was the first Alexander staffer the page told of the emails.

In the afternoon, Alexander's chief of staff, Royal Alexander (no relation), took the witness chair.

Also slated for appearance before the panel today: Rep. Dale E. Kildee (D-MI), a member of the page board who says he was never told of Foley's behavior.

Tomorrow, the panel is expected to hear from House Sergeant at Arms Wilson Livingood, according to CQ (sub. req.). House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), is is scheduled to appear Thursday.

New questions are being raised over the credibility of the panel's probe, however. Existing political ties -- including donations from House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), whose behavior is under investigation, to panel members -- have already cast doubt on the panel's trustworthiness.

Congressional Quarterly's Alan Ota takes a look at some of the ambitions held by GOP members of the panel -- ambitions that only Dennis Hastert has the power to fulfill:

Read More →

Bloomberg reports:

Lester Crawford, the former U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner who resigned after two months on the job, was charged in federal court for conflict of interest and making false statements related to his investments.

Crawford, 68, falsely stated in a 2004 government filing that shares of Sysco Corp. and Kimberly-Clark Corp. had been sold when he and his wife continued to hold them, U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor said in the charging documents. Crawford also failed to disclose income from exercising stock options in Embrex Inc., the documents said.

Crawford was chairman of the FDA's Obesity Working Group, formed to study the link between weight and health in the U.S., while owning shares of Sysco, a distributor of snack foods, and Pepsico Inc., the world's No. 2 soft drink maker, Taylor said.

Update: It looks like Crawford is likely to plead guilty.

We’ve added the charging documents against Crawford to the TPM Document Collection. The charges are laid out in an “Information” – such a filing (which prosecutors use in lieu of an indictment) is usually a prelude to a guilty plea. An arraignment has been scheduled tomorrow for Crawford. Our call to his lawyer was not immediately returned.

Update: Yep, he's pleading guilty.