TPM News

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), who wants Sen. Arlen Specter's (D-PA) Senate seat, is needling his opponent over his role in preventing the confirmation of one of President Obama's top Justice Department nominees.

In a letter to Specter, Sestak lays the fact that Johnsen's nomination stagnated and expired at his rival's feet. "Senator Specter, President Obama is giving you a second chance to support his nominee to lead the Office of Legal Counsel," Specter writes.

After you joined your Republican colleagues in successfully blocking Professor Dawn Johnsen from receiving a fair up-or-down vote last year, the President has decided to resubmit her nomination this year.

With Democrat Senator Ben Nelson opposed to Johnsen, but Republican Senator Richard Lugar strongly in favor, that means that all it takes is your vote to put a principled, qualified progressive in this key position.

Sestak goes on to allege that Specter might not want Johnsen--known for being a strong critic of Bush administration policies--to have the power to pull back the veil on a number of government scandals.

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Two former Bush EPA officials -- now industry lobbyists -- helped Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) write a measure aimed at blocking the agency from limiting global warming emissions.

Jeffrey Holmstead and Roger Martella, Jr. helped the Alaska senator write an amendment that she intended to offer last fall, which would have prevented the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, the Washington Post reported yesterday. Holmstead, an assistant administrator for air and radiation a EPA during the Bush years, is now a lobbyist at Bracewell & Guiliani, where his clients include Southern Company and Duke Energy. Martella, who was the Bush EPA's general counsel, now lobbbies at Sidley Austin, representing timber industry interests, among others.

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In an RNC fund-raising email sent out today, chairman Michael Steele claims that Senate Democrats passed health care reform "in the dark of night on Christmas Eve."

But that's another fib from the embattled chairman. Health care reform passed the Senate by a vote of 60 to 39 at about 7:15 on Christmas Eve morning.

To be fair, sunrise that day wasn't until about 10 minutes later. But that's certainly not the "dark of night."

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When comments he thought were off the record to two reporters surfaced in the new book "Game Change," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid knew it wasn't going to be good. Reid (D-NV) already was facing a tough political climate back home and the added fallout from remarks about President Obama's race could pose a big problem if his fellow Democrats turned against him.

Reid quickly went about locking down support, initiating a phone tree first to apologize to key black leaders in and out of Congress and also to make sure they wouldn't be speaking out against him.

One of the first calls was to Rep Barbara Lee (D-CA), who leads the Congressional Black Caucus. She issued a supportive statement as the news sped around the Internet.

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Republican candidate Scott Brown has a new ad up in the Massachusetts special Senate race, responding to a recent attack ad from Democrat Martha Coakley.

The Coakley ad called Brown a "lockstep" Republican who would block tougher oversight for Wall Street, wants more tax breaks for the wealthy, and favors denying emergency contraception to rape victims. "At times like these, we can't afford a Republican like Scott Brown," the announcer said.

In his new ad, Brown declares that the ad isn't true, though he doesn't specifically refute anything. "Instead of discussing issues like health care and jobs, they decided the best way to stop me is to tear me down. But the old way of doing things won't work anymore," Brown says. "Their attack ads are wrong and go too far. I'm Scott Brown, and I approved this message because I'm running in the name of every independent-thinking voter, to take on the political machine and their candidate. And with your help, I intend to win."

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The victims of a New Jersey woman who was convicted of bilking investors of as much as $2.5 million pleaded for leniency at her sentencing hearing Monday, arguing that she was fooled by a mysterious business partner -- who authorities believe may not actually exist.

Marcia Sladich, 51, of Clifton was sentenced to 70 months in prison yesterday for the three-year scheme, in which she collected money from fellow members of the local branch of Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, promising guaranteed returns from international real estate investments. The scene at the sentencing hearing was reported by The Record newspaper.

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