TPM News

Pity poor Alan Simpson. Three weeks after he and fellow presidential debt commission co-chair Erskine Bowles tried to put a positive spin on their incredibly controversial prescription to balance the federal budget, Simpson is still taking heat from critics on both sides of the aisle.

"I've never had any nastier mail or [been in a] more difficult position in my life," Simpson told the Casper Star-Tribune in his homestate of Wyoming.

"Just vicious," Simpson said. "People I've known, relatives [saying], "'You son of a bitch. How could you do this?'"

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A casino owner indicted on charges of bribery and honest services fraud is trying to get 11 of his 33 counts thrown out, arguing that campaign contributions don't count as bribery.

Federal prosecutors say that Milton McGregor, a businessman with controlling stakes in two Alabama casinos, hired lobbyists to bribe state politicians into supporting electronic gambling legislation. A fellow businessman, the lobbyists and four state legislators were also indicted in the sweep.

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Democrats today are shopping around what they're saying is a really juicy (if totally predictable) tale of Republican hypocrisy: Just days after the Senate GOP caucus imposed a voluntary moratorium on earmarking, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) dumped $200 million in extra cash for his home state into a spending bill right before final passage.

But experts insisted to TPM today that what Kyl did isn't nearly as clear or egregious as the AP made it out to be.

Here's the AP story Democrats are so excited about:

Only three days after GOP senators and senators-elect renounced earmarks, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, the No. 2 Senate Republican, got himself a whopping $200 million to settle an Arizona Indian tribe's water rights claim against the government. Kyl slipped the measure into a larger bill sought by President Barack Obama and passed by the Senate on Friday to settle claims by black farmers and American Indians against the federal government.

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Even Norm Coleman thinks it's time for Joe Miller to give up his Alaska Senate fight. "I think that race is over," Coleman said in an interview that will air this Sunday on C-SPAN's Newsmakers. "I think the counting's been done I'm not sure there's anything that would change that."

"It should be time to move on," he said. "There's not much that you can gain by extending the process."

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You know those efforts by conservatives to cast doubt on the legitimacy of Sen. Al Franken's (D-MN) election in that drawn-out recount, by searching high and low for alleged voter fraud? The head of Minnesota's County Attorneys Association, John Kingrey, says that they're taking up local prosecutors' time with false reports.

As we've previously noted, the conservative group Minnesota Majority submitted a (dubious) report alleging that hundreds of felons had illegally voted in the 2008 Senate race. After the counties investigated the report -- as they are required under state law to do, when it comes to allegations of election fraud -- it was found that the report contained errors such as identifying the wrong people, or naming felons who could legally vote after serving their full sentences.

At a press conference Monday with Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota, a group formed after the 2004 election to mobilize against reported problems with electronic voting machines and other potential problems of voter disenfranchisement, Kingrey called the reports of voter fraud "wildly overstated," and said he knew of only one prosecution of voter fraud.

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A security guard at a St. Paul Planned Parenthood clinic called the cops last week after he spotted a Republican state lawmaker with a loaded gun in the parking lot. But the pol says he was only "checking on" his online girlfriend, who he thought may be on a date with another man -- a claim police have not been able to corroborate because the man did not have a phone number or address for the woman.

According to the police report, a security guard reported the man, Rep. Tom Hackbarth, after he saw him get out of a pickup truck in the parking lot with a loaded gun in a hip holster. The guard saw him walk into an alley near the clinic.

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Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), who had been rumored to be a possible candidate for chairman of the Republican National Committee, told the Daily Caller that he will not run if current (and embattled) Chairman Michael Steele seeks re-election: "If he's in, then I'm out."

"Michael Steele is a friend. He has been for many years. I'm not going to run against the chairman."

But he refused to rule out running in the case Steele doesn't.

"I'm not in a position to speculate what-if-he-doesn't," Coleman said. "At that point, it becomes speculation."

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Judge Andrew Napolitano, senior judicial analyst for Fox News, gave a pretty impassioned speech yesterday on the Fox Business Network about the TSA and its new airport safety measures. He even invoked the Nuremberg trials and the rise of Nazism in Germany as a mode of comparison. "Tell the TSA what you think of them," he said to viewers. "Reject the argument that they are just doing their job. The trials at Nuremberg put an end to that argument."

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