TPM News

Democratic Senate candidate Joe Sestak is up with a new TV ad that seeks to remind voters of Republican rival Pat Toomey's affinity for Rick Santorum and Sarah Palin.
The 30-second spot, which was not released by the campaign but was airing Tuesday night and Wednesday morning in the Philadelphia media market, refers to Toomey as "Pennsylvania's most right-wing congressman"--a reference to an American Conservative Union rating that has put him to the right of former Senator Rick Santorum.

It goes on to air a clip in which Toomey says "my voting record's pretty heard to distinguish from Rick Santorum's," and reminds viewers that Toomey called Palin "a spectacular governor." It also airs a clip in which Toomey voices support for outlawing abortion and enacting penalties for doctors who perform them.
With most public polls showing Toomey leading Sestak one month before Election Day and with the race expected to tighten, the new ad underscores a key pillar of Sestak's strategy: make Toomey unacceptably conservative to Pennsylvanians.
"Pat Toomey," the ad says, "he's not on our side."

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Two bloggers who co-owned a "sex-positive" URL shortener at say the Libyan domain authority, which registers ".ly" domains, has shut them down for violating "Islamic morality."

Violet Blue and Ben Metcalfe founded last year to offer a URL shortening service that wouldn't screen out sexual, adult, and generally NSFW links. Other shorteners, such as, do.

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Louisiana's leading Senate candidates gathered last night for their first scheduled debate in Houma, LA. Well, one of them gathered. Front-runner David Vitter (R) didn't show.

Instead of joining his Democratic rival Charlie Melancon for an hour-plus long, unscripted Q&A, Vitter skipped the session entirely, according to tracker footage taken by the Louisiana Democratic party, headed to an event for Republicans only in Kenner, some 50 miles away.

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The family of the man reportedly killed on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake on the Texas border has been publicly pleading that American officials be allowed to cross over the border to search for his body. But the Sheriff leading the investigation on the U.S. side told Today this morning that Mexican officials invited his office to participate in the search last night, but that he declined the offer "because it's dangerous." (The man's wife, Tiffany Hartley, appeared in the same segment)

Hartley has maintained that her husband was shot in the head by "lake pirates" while the couple were on jet skis. His body hasn't been recovered, and she says she was able to escape on her own jet ski.

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Another Rasmussen poll of the West Virginia Senate race has Republican businessman John Raese extending his lead over Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin, in the race for the Senate seat that was held for over 50 years by Democrat Robert Byrd.

The numbers: Raese 50%, Manchin 44%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4% margin of error. In the previous Rasmussen poll from last week, Raese had just taken a narrow edge of 48%-46%.

Polls have consistently shown that Manchin is very popular, and few would question the idea that he is the best candidate the Democrats could have recruited for the race. However, President Obama remains highly unpopular in this state, Republicans are clearly capitalizing on this very effectively.

The TPM Poll Average gives Raese a lead of 49.4%-43.4%.

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As a member of the finance council for the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay until he resigned to run for Senate this year, Ron Johnson served alongside a bishop named Robert Morneau who, as a Church leader, had been made aware over two decades ago of the abusive tendencies of Rev. John Feeney.

Rev. Feeney was convicted in 2003, before Johnson joined the council, for sexually assaulting two brothers in the late 1970s. But according to documents obtained by the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP), the Church sought to cover up his crimes, which one reverend called "sexually very inappropriate."

Seven years later, Johnson testified before the Wisconsin State Senate against legislation to eliminate the statute of limitations for such crimes, making it easier for victims of sexual abuse to seek damages from the Church or any other culpable institution.

The testimony first arose in the context of the race in a June article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and has been dogging Johnson more or less ever since. His connection to Morneau raises questions about how familiar Johnson (who is not a Catholic) was with the diocese's hidden scandals. Those questions couldn't come at a worse time for the GOP hopeful, who leads Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) in the polls ahead of the November election.

TPM contacted numerous attorneys, advocates, and other members of the finance council of the Diocese of Green Bay to explain the finance council's role at the church, and the information it was privy to with respect to sexually abusive clergy. What we learned suggests that it's very difficult to separate Johnson's role as finance committee member from his role as legislative witness seeking to protect the Church from future lawsuits, when he told the panel, "I urge you to defeat this legislation."

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Statements made by a senior Obama administration official about the tax status of Koch Industries -- a company whose majority owners are major funders of the Tea Party-supporting group Americans for Prosperity -- are under review by the Treasury Inspector General for the Tax Administration, which oversees the activities of the IRS.

The review, focusing on whether any Obama administration official improperly accessed and disclosed private tax information, was started at the request of Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and six other Republican senators.

The statements under question were made back in August, when a senior administration official talked about Koch Industries on a briefing with reporters. "In this country we have partnerships, we have S corps, we have LLCs, we have a series of entities that do not pay corporate income tax," said the senior administration official. "Some of which are really giant firms, you know Koch Industries is a multibillion dollar businesses."

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Tiffany Hartley, the wife of the man reportedly shot by "lake pirates" on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake last week, was back on television today, telling her story the morning after a memorial service for her husband, David Hartley. On Today, Meredith Vieira pointedly asked Hartley if she'd had anything to do with David's death.

Tiffany Hartley has maintained that her husband was shot in the head by "lake pirates" while the couple were on jet skis. His body hasn't been recovered, and she says she was able to escape on her own jet ski.

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