TPM News

Keith Bardwell, the justice of the peace from Louisiana who refused to marry an interracial couple, has resigned, effective today.

Bardwell declined to marry Beth Humphrey and Terence McKay out of "concern for the children." The story caused a national controversy, drawing attention to Bardwell, who claims he's always denied marriage licenses to interracial couples in Tangipahoa Parish.

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA) all quickly condemned the action and called for the justice of the peace to step down, but Bardwell held his own for weeks, defending himself in TV and print interviews. Noticeably absent was the condemnation of Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), who actually refused to comment when chased down by blogger-activist Mike Stark (video at link). Vitter's office eventually released a statement saying "judges should follow the law as written."

The AP report does not indicate what caused Bardwell to change his mind. Louisiana Secretary Of State Office spokesman Jacques Berry confirmed that Bardwell's resignation is effective today.

How much would you pay to watch former president George W. Bush and Bill Clinton take the stage in an "uncensored, unedited and unpredictable" debate?

How about $1,250?

That's the high end for tickets to the debate, scheduled for Feb. 25 in New York City, according to the New York Post. Seats start at $60.

Read More →

Bernie Madoff's former accountant has pleaded guilty to fraud in connection with his auditing of Madoff's operation. But David Friehling denied that he knew anything about the underlying massive Ponzi scheme, which Madoff has pleaded guilty to orchestrating.

Friehling admitted that he didn't independently audit Madoff's financial statements, saying he took Madoff's claims at "face value." But he said (sub. req.) he put his own and his family's money with Madoff. In what was "the biggest mistake of my life, I placed my trust in Bernard Madoff," he said.

Read More →

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), chairman of the DCCC, released this statement in the wake of comments by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-NC), who compared the Democrats' health care proposals to a terrorist attack:

"Just as we have seen in the Special Election in New York's 23rd District, the reprehensible comments by House Republicans comparing health insurance reform to terrorism are the latest examples of the Republican Party being taken over by extreme right wing ideologues. The fact that House Republicans would even compare legislation that makes health insurance more affordable for millions of middle class families to terrorism just goes to show how extreme and out of touch the Republican Party has become.

"It's time for the House Republican Leadership and the few remaining moderates in the Republican Party to speak up and condemn such outrageous behavior."

Roger Stone told TPMmuckraker in an interview today that he retained a private investigator last year to scrutinize the activities of Scott Rothstein, Stone's onetime business partner who is now being accused of a $100 million fraud involving his south Florida law firm. And, Stone added, he broke with Rothstein earlier this year after Rothstein tried to censor criticism of his friend Gov. Charlie Crist on The Stone Zone, for which Rothstein's law firm was providing web hosting.

Stone, reached in Ohio where he is working election day, explained that about a year ago Rothstein's spending -- "on luxury cars, real estate, watches, charitable and political donations" -- had gotten so out of control that Stone hired private investigator Adam Mangino.

"He came back with two pieces of advice: 'I don't know where the money is coming from, but I do know the money is not his,'" Stone says. "It was at that point that I asked Rothstein to dissolve the company."

Read More →

Some conservatives are proudly showing off what they claim is a real live case of voter fraud today. Election Journal and Red State are both trumpeting this 30-second video of a young voter in New Jersey telling the tale of his stolen vote.

Election Journal, which last year released a widely-played video of the New Black Panthers supposedly scaring voters from the polls, posted the video this afternoon under the title "Concerns over absentee ballots realized."

In it, the voter says he gave his name to election officials, only to find that he had already voted.

"I walk in there, tell them my name and it says that I have a mail thing, someone sent it in the mail. But I never sent mine in the mail, so I had to file a provisional in order to be able vote," says the voter, who identifies himself as Mark Allen of Galloway, N.J.

Read More →

Voter turnout is on track to be heavy in Maine today, where a referendum on gay marriage has spurred intense political activism on both sides.

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap told TPM that turnout had originally been predicted to be about 35%, on the assumption that the heavy absentee and early voting -- about 150,000 ballots went out -- would take away from turnout on Election Day. "But apparently that's not been the case," said Dunlap, who has rethought his turnout predictions, saying it could reach 50% or even higher.

By contrast, typical off-year referendum turnout in Maine is 15%-25%, with the 35% number having been an estimate of how the increased interest in the gay marriage vote could affect things. Dunlap said that 50% turnout does have a precedent, as a vote on casinos reached 51% turnout six years ago.

Read More →

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters President Obama is still "weeks away" from making his decision on whether to send up to 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

When Obama does decide, he wants to help Americans understand how he came to the conclusion, Gibbs said.

"The president has told us ... that it is important for the American people to understand why he made the decision that he's made," Gibbs said today in his briefing. "And I anticipate that the president will spend some time walking the American people through the process that we've undertaken and the decision points that he's made along the way to come to the ultimate conclusion that he's come to."

White House officials say they haven't discussed if that will be in the form of a speech or if it will come in an Oval Office address. Obama has held seven meetings with his war council in the Situation Room and last week attended a pre-dawn ceremony for troops that had been killed in Afghanistan.

Read More →

TPMLivewire