TPM News

The campaign staffers helping Scott Brown for U.S. Senate are being paid as independent contractors rather than as employees and are responsible for paying their own taxes and, presumably, health care coverage. The contractors designation applies from the top tier to lower level staffers who appear to be doing grunt advance work for Brown events and handling volunteers and press.

The decision to treat staffers as independent contractors could save the campaign money on taxes and benefits, experts TPMDC spoke with said, although the precise rationale for the move remains unclear.

TPMDC reviewed campaign finance reports showing more than a dozen Brown staffers being paid for "strategy consulting," an unusual label for low-level aides. We asked the campaign about the designation and whether they have paid payroll taxes.

Campaign spokesman Felix Browne told TPMDC the campaign is aided by "volunteers and paid staff who are compensated as independent contractors in accordance with the Massachusetts independent contractor law."

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White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer pushed back against criticism of the administration's new fee on banks in a post on the White House blog today. Pfeiffer singled out an anonymous quote on Politico, attributed to a "senior industry leader," which alleged that the new bank fee will inhibit lending and undermine economic recovery.

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Rep. Parker Griffith (R-AL), who switched from the Democratic Party to the GOP in December, appears to be modifying his promise to return donations from Democrats who are unhappy with his switch. He is now including only money raised for this cycle, the Huntsville Times reports -- the cash spent to elect him as a Democrat a little over a year ago is gone.

Griffith is not required under the law to return any donations, but some form of refund is often made by politicians who switch parties. The Times points out that Griffith had made an offer to return money to any donor or to the national Democratic Party, upon a request being submitted in writing. However, refund-seekers are now being answered with a form letter telling them that the money spent in 2008 is gone, and will not be given back. Only money donated within the 2010 cycle will be returned.

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Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) made a very blunt statement to reporters today, about just how serious the stakes are in the Massachusetts special Senate election between Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Scott Brown.

Said Frank: "If Scott Brown wins, it'll kill the health bill."

If Brown is elected, he would be the 41st member of the Republican caucus, giving the minority party the power to block even a unanimous Democratic caucus of 59 members. Since no Republicans are working with the Obama administration on health care, that would shut down the process altogether.

The Tea Party Nation has banned "liberal trolls" from their Web site but members have no problem crossing state lines to help Republican State Sen. Scott Brown in the final hours of the race for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts.

Tea Party Nation member Marina Peterson sent a message today to the group's mailing list addressed to "Rhode Islander's" (sic) and asking them to help Brown defeat Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley.

"The momentum is high!! Let's give this our all!!" writes Peterson, adding that volunteers this weekend can canvass neighborhoods or use the automated phone call system, which make it "easy to leave voice mails automatically and easy to record voters responses - making it fun."

Brown "could be the 41st vote needed to frustrate Harry Reid, Barrack Obama (sic) and their attempt to shove socialism down our throats!" she writes.

Peterson also references Rep. Patrick Kennedy's reelection campaign in Rhode Island, saying that a Brown win Tuesday would, after all, give Kennedy's Republican challenger John Loughlin free national media.

Excerpts from the email obtained by TPMDC as a member of the mailing list, after the jump. It's slightly edited to remove emails and phone numbers for the campaign.

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If, as some Democrats hope, there is a health care 'repeal trap,' a number of Republicans are diving right into it. So far, 19 GOP lawmakers -- three senators and 16 members of Congress -- plus 44 other Republican office seekers (and counting), have signed 'Repeal It!' pledges written by The Club for Growth, promising to repeal any health reform legislation passed by Congress.

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Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told ABC News today that he thinks a new push to grant Haitian refugees temporary protection status -- allowing them to live and work in the U.S. legally -- is a political move by immigration activists. He also suggested that it may be better to deport Haitians, so they could contribute to the relief effort there.

"This sounds to me like open borders advocates exercising the Rahm Emanuel axiom: 'Never let a crisis go to waste,'" King said. "Illegal immigrants from Haiti have no reason to fear deportation, but if they are deported, Haiti is in great need of relief workers, and many of them could be a big help to their fellow Haitians."

King is the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Immigration.

(H/T Wonk Room)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has taken down and then repost its new attack ad against Scott Brown in the Massachusetts special Senate election -- minus a background photo that turned out to be the World Trade Center.

The ad is now exactly the same as before, except that the Trade Center visual (which was not immediately obvious, as it was an old stock photo taken from a weird angle, and did not appear to have anything to do with 9/11) has been replaced.

Republicans were quick to pounce on the ad. Rudy Giuliani released a statement: "Martha Coakley must immediately denounce the partisan political television advertisement sponsored by her Democrat allies that inexplicably uses images of the World Trade Center to unfairly attack Scott Brown. This is among the most desperate campaign tactics I have ever seen. Martha Coakley and her Democrat allies owe an apology to the families of the nearly three thousand Americans killed on September 11th."

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