TPM News

Anti-Wall Street sentiment is so strong and Republicans have such a weak hand that Democrats in the Senate are suddenly finding themselves strengthening the financial reform bill with new amendments and beating back GOP attempts to weaken it.

The latest evidence of this populist surge is that the Senate is now expected to adopt an amendment, authored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), that will require an audit of all of the Fed's emergency lending activities, starting in late 2007.*

Sanders' success in winning support for his amendment is emblematic of the greater debate over financial reform, which has, thanks to the Democrats' aggressive political posture, and the unpopularity of Wall Street, been much more favorable to progressives, even over the objection of powerful interests.

The Sanders measure is similar to a Fed audit proposal that was included in the House's financial reform legislation, which passed last December, and should simplify the process of ironing out the differences between the two bills in a conference committee.

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The Pennsylvania Democratic Party is officially warning against the idea of nominating Rep. Joe Sestak in his primary challenge against incumbent Democrat and former Republican Arlen Specter -- as the chances of a Sestak win appear to be going up.

Pennsylvania Dem chairman T.J. Rooney told Politico that "if we want to keep this seat in Democratic hands, the only person capable of delivering that victory is Arlen Specter." He added: "I can't say, honest and true, if the shoe's on the other foot, that we'll have the same race in November. The results could be cataclysmic."

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A new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll of Arizona finds a majority favoring the state's new law cracking down on illegal immigration, but that it also continues to divide the state on racial and partisan lines. In addition, support falls if the law's potentially onerous burdens to carry papers proving citizenship are explained, but only slightly.

A first question was asked: "Based on what you know or have heard about the new Arizona immigration law, do you favor or oppose it?" The top-line number is 53% in favor, to 36% opposed. The numbers among Republicans are 89%-7%, Democrats are 12%-79%, and independents are 46%-28%. Support among whites is at 63%-26%, Hispanics are at 15%-76%, and blacks are at 8%-80%.

The top-line numbers similar to a recent Rocky Mountain Poll, with some minor differences in the internal figures when allowing for the larger margins of error in sub-groups.

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Could Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) shake off powerful opponents of his proposal to audit the Federal Reserve? It looks like he's about to do just that. By making a few changes to his financial reform amendment, Sanders has won support from Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, and Majority Leader Harry Reid, and seems more poised than ever to prevail. The Senate should vote on his amendment later today.

In order to allay some of the White House's and the Fed's concerns, Sanders has agreed to limit the scope of what the Government Accountability Office would be allowed to audit--but his plan will still require thorough review of all the Fed's emergency lending, beginning December 1, 2007.

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Sen. Blanche Lincoln still can't raise the money Lt. Gov. Bill Halter can in the Arkansas Democratic Senate primary. The AP reports that in the final fundraising reporting period before the May 18 election, Halter outraised Lincoln by nearly two-to-one.

Halter raised nearly $580,000 between Apr. 1-28, his campaign told the AP. Lincoln's camp reported it raised just over $300,000 in the same period. That continues a trend that's seen Halter crush Lincoln in fundraising since he declared his candidacy on March 1.

When it comes to cash on hand, it's a different story. Lincoln reported $3.1 million in the bank as of Apr. 28, which dwarfs the around $558,000 Halter's camp has to spend in the final weeks of the primary. Lincoln used her cash advantage to outspend Halter in the past month -- where he spent around $1 million to campaign against her, she poured almost $1.5 million into stopping him.

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Sarah Palin has now endorsed a candidate in the California Senate Republican primary, coming out in favor of former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina -- the same Carly Fiorina who infamously said during the 2008 campaign that Palin couldn't run a major company.

Palin pitches Fiorina as the best shot in the primary to stop former Rep. Tom Campbell, who currently leads in the polls: "Please consider that Carly is the conservative who has the potential to beat California's liberal senator, Barbara Boxer, in November. I'm a huge proponent of contested primaries, so I'm glad to see the contest in California's GOP, but I support Carly as she fights through a tough primary against a liberal member of the GOP who seems to bear almost no difference to Boxer, one of the most leftwing members of the Senate."

The TPM Poll Average gives Campbell a lead of 28.7%, followed by Fiorina at 20.2%, and the even more conservative state Rep. Chuck DeVore with 12.4%.

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The male escort who accompanied George Rekers, a leader of the ex-gay movement, on a European vacation now says the two did engage in sex acts.

The escort, dubbed "Lucien" by the Miami New Times, told the paper that Rekers paid him to provide daily massages, in the nude. The massages included Rekers' favorite move, Lucien said, which he dubbed "the long stroke."

"Rekers liked to be rubbed down there," he said. He originally said the two did not have sex.

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Since news broke that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is conducting a fraud investigation into the work of a former UVA climate scientist who was caught up in the "Climate-Gate" controversy, reactions have been pouring in -- with even some climate skeptics slamming the probe as a threat to academic freedom.

But one interested observer has been noticeably mum: Governor Bob McDonnell.

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