TPM News

Another shoe has dropped in the New Jersey gubernatorial race. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Brown -- who took a $46,000 loan in 2007 from her then-boss Chris Christie, who is now the Republican nominee for Governor -- has resigned from her job in the U.S. Attorney's office, effective immediately.

"I am extraordinarily proud of all the work we have done and all the good we have accomplished on behalf of the people of this state," Brown wrote in her resignation letter. "I also know how important it is that we continue to pursue our mission, and I do not want to become a distraction from the critically important work we do."

Christie has gotten in trouble this past week over the loan, which he did not disclose in his ethics disclosure forms, and for which he did not report income from it on his taxes (though it was duly filed with a county clerk's office as a mortgage). Democrats have attacked the loan, and have also called on Brown to recuse herself from handling Freedom Of Information Act requests involving Christie's tenure at the office.

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Sarah Palin's leadership committee, SarahPAC, is now getting some annoying questions from people other than the media -- namely, the Federal Election Commission.

In an August 19 letter to SarahPAC, the FEC asked for more information on several irregularities in the PAC's mid-year report -- mostly consisting of failures to itemize on expenditures of certain sizes. In addition, it appears that SarahPAC neglected to properly file as a multi-candidate PAC, and thus made potentially illegal donations to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), with the checks weighing in beyond the limit for a non-multicandidate PAC.

It appears that this is probably not a matter of corruption. Rather, it may simply involve a level of negligence and ineptitude beyond the norm. For example, the FEC notes that the two checks to Murkowski and McCain were filed as being for the 2009 primary election, which does not exist. The FEC simply pointed out the error, and is counting them towards the 2010 campaign.

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The Colorado Democratic Party's headquarters in Denver has been attacked by vandals, with 11 windows getting smashed by rocks. The windows in question had posters of President Obama and the Democratic positions on health care.

A 24-year old suspect, Maurice Schwenkler, has been arrested, and another man remains at large. Schwenkler and the other suspect allegedly both disguised themselves by wearing shirts over their faces, plus hooded sweatshirts, and fled the scene on bicycles. The crime occurred at about 2:20 a.m. local time, and was spotted by an officer on patrol.

State party chairwoman Pat Waak blamed the vandalism on animosity against President Obama's health care plan, though the police have thus far not commented on a motive.

"We ought to be having a serious, conscientious debate about what's best for the country," Waak told the Denver Post. "Clearly there's been an effort on the other side to stir up hate. I think this is the consequence of it."

RNC Chairman Michael Steele just appeared on CNN, where he continued to make the case that we can't risk President Obama's health care proposals at a time when Medicare is going bankrupt. And then something funny happened: Suzanne Malveaux asked him about the fact that the Republicans were the ones who bankrupted it.

Malveaux pointed out that in 2003, the Republicans passed a huge expansion of Medicare, the prescription drug benefit, without any method of paying for it through tax increases or other spending cuts. There then followed this exchange:

Steele: The reality of it is, it didn't happen in a vacuum. it wasn't Republicans by themselves, the Democrats were part--

Malveaux: But certainly, Republicans were partly responsible--

Steele: Because you have the White House, and you don't have the Congress. There's a partnership here. My point is now, you've got one party that's got control of the entire process here. So this is an opportunity for us to have an honest discussion about how we're going to address what is fundamentally an important issue to a lot of seniors around the country.

Steele appears to have been mistaken. In fact, Republicans had control of both houses of Congress as well as holding the White House in 2003, albeit by smaller margins than the Democrats do today.

There's a critical unanswered question about the torture investigation -- or "preliminary review" announced yesterday by Attorney General Eric Holder. And the Justice Department doesn't seem eager to clear it up.

Who, exactly, is to be investigated?

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Are the Senate Finance Committee's bipartisan health care negotiations getting anywhere? According to the panel's lead Republican, Chuck Grassley, the answer is no. And yes!

"I don't think it's going to be possible to work it out with the administration because they're all over the field -- all over the ball park, I guess, as we say," Grassley told reporters in Iowa, presumably while trying to come up with the word "map."

He added that the Obama administration has been unclear about whether it wants health care legislation to include a public option, which, Grassley said, "leads to single-payer, completely government-run health care system and no choice."

So I guess that's it for bipartisanship, then, right? Well....

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Here's a great example of the new Republican populism -- a Web ad by a GOP candidate that bashes his opponent as a greedy Wall Street executive, using footage of the infamous Gordon Gekko from the movie Wall Street, declaring, "The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed -- for lack of a better word -- is good."

The new Web ad from Republican former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, the GOP nominee for Governor of New Jersey, attacks Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine's administration for having invested $180 million in state pension funds in Lehman Brothers, shortly before the firm collapsed, and insinuates a dirty connection on account of Corzine appointees having previously served at that same firm:

Christie might be a going little bit too far to the left, when the Web ad uses audio of none other than President Obama: "This financial crisis is a direct result of the greed and irresponsibility that has dominated Washington and Wall Street for years now."

Late Update: Corzine press secretary Lis Smith gives us this comment:

"When Governor Corzine and the state of New Jersey filed their lawsuit against Lehman Brothers, the Governor said 'we intend to hold Lehman executives and directors accountable for the fraud and misrepresentation.' If Christie wants to discuss greed on Wall Street, he should speak with his brother, Todd, who was one of 20 former New York Stock Exchange floor traders charged with securities fraud by the S.E.C. for cheating customers to benefit their firms. In fact, the S.E.C. said he ranked 'in the category of amongst the worst in terms of the harm cost.' Of course, if Christie does that then he might have to talk about David Kelley and the no-bid contract he received."

Late Late Update: In an e-mail exchange with TPM, DNC spokesman Michael Czin denounced the invocation of Obama. "It's cynical and intellectually dishonest," said Czin. He also gave us a lengthier statement, available after the jump.

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Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has a proposition: If the government is going to mandate that Americans buy health insurance from private companies, they should know how much of that money actually goes to paying health insurance costs. And insurers aren't happy about it.

On Friday, Rockefeller sent letters to executives at the 15 largest health insurance companies in the country, asking them to compile data on this question for the Senate Commerce Committee by September 8.

"It's another page out of the same playbook," says Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans. "There's an effort to shift the focus to the health insurance industry rather than on the bills in Congress."

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The top fundraiser for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign has been charged with fraudulently applying for a loan of over $74 million from Citigroup.

Federal prosecutors allege that Hassan Nemazee, a New York businessman who was national finance chair for the Clinton campaign, "submitted, and caused to be submitted to Citibank numerous documents that purported to establish the existence of accounts in Nemazee's name at various financial institutions containing many hundreds of millions of dollars. In fact, those were fraudulent and forged documents."

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