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As he gears up his Senate run, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning (R) is drawing heavy attention in the local press for his business dealings.

Last week the Omaha World-Herald dug into Bruning's finances, noting that he owns stakes in various businesses ranging from $12 million to $61 million in total value, while also owing high debt between $10 and $35 million to fund his investments, all accrued during a career as a public servant. Now, Democrats are pouncing on a follow-up story about a real estate deal he cut with the help of executives from a student loan company that he crossed paths with as attorney general.

In 2008, Bruning joined two executives from the company, Nelnet, to purchase a $675,000 lake house. But only a year earlier, he was embroiled in a controversy surrounding the same company when he waived a $1 million settlement with Nelnet over improper business practices. After critics pointed out that Nelnet execs had showered him with $16,000 in donations, he backed off the move.

"To me, it's incredibly tone deaf," Paul Johnson, campaign manager for Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), whose seat Bruning is running for, told the World-Herald.

Bruning told the paper he has been friends with the executives in question for years and there is no conflict of interest since the company is not under investigation.

Remember the 'Whitey Tape" rumor from 2008? The gist was that a video was secretly in circulation featuring Michelle Obama badmouthing "whitey." The blogosphere was alight with fears (or on some ends, hopes) that it would be released at a critical moment and swing the election towards John McCain.

The tape never emerged.

However, Monday the internet was aflame yet again with an apparent "whitey" tape -- this time featuring not Michelle Obama, but Michele Bachmann.

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Former Rep. Mark Neumann (R-WI) officially launched his campaign for U.S. Senate Monday, setting up a likely Republican primary against the more moderate former Gov. Tommy Thompson.

Neumann announced his campaign in an interview with conservative talk radio host Charlie Sykes, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Neumann's likely opponent Thompson has been gearing up for the race, and has already been attacked by the conservative group the Club For Growth.

Some of Neumann's former aides now work at the Club For Growth, though Neumann said in the interview that he would not have any control over what the group does. "They support conservative candidates. We hope they'll support us," Neumann said of the Club. And regarding his former staffers, he said: "They are conservative people and they are dedicated to reducing wasteful spending."

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Updated 12 a.m. Aug. 30

Twitter announced on Monday -- via a Tweet -- that it has hired Colin Crowell, a former top advisor to Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski, and a long-time Democratic staffer on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, as its new top in-house lobbyist in DC.

Twitter's General Counsel Alex MacGillivray disclosed the hire on Twitter Monday morning, where he welcomed Crowell as the company's new global head of public policy. Crowell tweeted that he'll start mid-September.

Crowell will be Twitter's first public policy point man in Washington, D.C. Twitter hired Adam Sharp in D.C. last November, but he's more of a liaison person who helps politicos and government figures learn how to use Twitter as part of their public communications than a policy person.

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The U.S. solar market is thriving among fierce global competition -- even besting China last year when it came to trade between the two countries, according to a new report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

The industry hit a record $1.9 billion in net total exports in 2010, according to the new report from GTM Research and SEIA. That's up from $723 million in 2009.

The latest figure came from calculating the difference between $5.6 billion in total exports and $3.7 billion in imports in 2010.

The other good news: the U.S. solar industry managed to achieve a positive trade balance with China, posting net exports between $247 million and $540 million (true value unknown due to corporate confidentiality), according to the report.

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Fresh off conservative criticism of President Obama's Midwest bus tour, the Tea Party Express is kicking its own tires. Leading up to the CNN/Tea Party Express Republican presidential debate Sept. 10, the tea party group on Saturday launched a bus tour in Napa, California.

"We want Washington to live within its means, just like we do," Tea Party Express chairwoman Amy Kremer told Reuters. "We're in an economic downfall. Meanwhile, politicians are busy attending cocktail parties instead of focusing on the issues."

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The size of the gigantic family compound set to rise like a phoenix from the ashes of Mitt Romney's $12 million teardown in California has been exaggerated in the press, according to Romney.

Sort of, at least. Romney told the publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader, Joe McQuaid, that while the square footage of the new estate will -- as reported -- nearly quadruple in size once construction is complete, the number is misleading because it includes the garage and basement. According to McQuaid, Romney merely shrugged when pressed why he didn't try and correct the record more aggressively.

Depending on what he does with the place, Romney's "living space" versus "nonliving space" distinction may be somewhat blurry. If MTV Cribs has taught us anything, it's that basements in homes with eight-digit property values are more than just a dank storage pit.

h/t Politico

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Sometimes campaign spin works to distance a candidate from his controversial past statements. And sometimes the candidate comes back and makes a hash of all the work his staff has done for him.

We could be witnessing the latter scenario when it comes to Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and one of the nation's most popular government programs. Last week, Perry's campaign spokesperson took to the Wall Street Journal to help back Perry off the less election-friendly sections of his book, Fed Up!. That includes Perry's suggestion that Social Security is an unconstitutional scheme which should be privatized post-haste.

Over the weekend, Perry walked all that back and fired off some more fiery rhetoric about the perils of the entitlement program that most Americans do not want to see changed.

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As expected, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) will try to see to it that federal disaster aid to regions damaged by Hurricane Irene be offset by concomitant cuts to other federal programs.

"Yes there's a federal role, yes we're going to find the money -- we're just going to need to make sure that there are savings elsewhere to continue to do so," Cantor told Fox News on Monday.

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