TPM News

Tiffany & Co. was actively lobbying the House committee Newt Gingrich's wife Callista was working for at the time the couple had a $250,000 to $500,000 interest-free revolving charge account with the famed jeweler, SpyTalk blogger Jeff Stein reports.

Newt Gingrich has previously touted his Tiffany's bill as evidence of his fiscal responsibility because he paid it off in full. Newt Gingrich also claimed the revolving charge account with Tiffany & Co. came interest-free, but the high-end jewelery company doesn't appear to offer such a deal to your average Joe, the Washington Post reports.

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Former Sen. Rick Santorum, who has been exploring a bid for president, is set to officially declare his candidacy in two weeks.

The Des Moines Register reports:

Pennsylvania Republican Rick Santorum is making plans to throw his hat into the presidential ring and will make a big announcement about his plans in two weeks, an aide told The Des Moines Register this morning.

Santorum, 53, a former two-term senator, will reveal his plans the week of June 5, but his staff said they're still working out the details on which state he'll choose for his launching pad.

As the Register notes, Santorum has paid 16 visits to New Hampshire, 15 to Iowa, and 14 to South Carolina. So it's anybody's guess which state Santorum will pick to officially get in the mix.

After the Justice Department obtained New York Times reporter James Risen's credit reports and credit card and bank records, it moved this week to subpoena the award-winning journalist's testimony in the trial of a former CIA agent accused of leaking of classified information.

But a DOJ spokeswoman said Tuesday that the Department takes subpoenaing reporters seriously and they'll only do it as a last resort.

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Jane Corwin, the Republican candidate in today's high-stakes NY-26 special election, has obtained a judge's order to bar the certification of the result and impound certain election materials when polls close this evening. Such an action is not far out of the ordinary in New York, but is an indicator that a close result is expected.

"Usually, any time they expect the race to be somewhat close, they usually do the impoundment order so the parties involves have an opportunity to see how those ballots get counted," state Elections Board spokesman Thomas Connolly told TPM.

Connolly, who made clear that he did not yet have the chance to fully read the order, said that these orders typically apply to absentee ballots and provisional ballots (the latter of which are called "affidavit ballots" in New York). Also in New York elections, absentee ballots are not counted on election night at all, but in the following days.

However, the great majority of votes are cast on optical-scan ballots, and the readings from those scan machines will likely continue. "At the end of the day, we'll still have the machine numbers," said Connolly.

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Add Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) to the list of Republicans who plan to vote against the Paul Ryan budget when it comes up for a vote in the Senate this week.

"I am going to vote no on the budget because I have deep and abiding concerns about the approach on Medicare, which is essentially to privatize it," Snowe told The Portland Press Herald on Tuesday.

She added that the House GOP budget's proposal to block grant Medicaid and let states decide how to distribute the funds was also troubling.

"The states are the great laboratories," Snowe said. "But we also have an overall obligation to serve specific populations under Medicaid. We don't want to encourage a race to the bottom."

The Maine lawmakers joins Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Scott Brown (R-MA), and Rand Paul (R-KY) who have all declared their "no" vote early. Snowe, Collins, and Brown have cited its impact on seniors' Medicare benefits as their chief disagreement while Paul wants its overall cuts to go even further. Collins and Paul have made their position known for some time. Brown announced his position on Monday with an op-ed in Politico.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-WA)? A new PPP poll out Tuesday suggests voters in Washington state are largely unreceptive to the thought of the Ohio congressman moving west and running for office in their state.

In the poll, 39% of registered voters said Kucinich should not run for Congress from a new district that will be drawn next year as a result of last year's census reapportionment, while 12% said he should run. A bright spot fo Kucinich though, should he move to Washington and decide to run, is that a 48% plurality of voters are still undecided.

Also, while a 53% majority of voters there don't know Kucinich well enough to form an opinion of him, a greater percentage of voters don't like him (28%) than the percentage who do like him (19%.)

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rounded out a tumultuous visit to Washington with a speech to a largely sympathetic Congress Tuesday, compared to the tense relations on display with President Obama last week.

During the address, Netanyahu reaffirmed the close ties between the U.S. and Israel and once again rejected any suggestion of redrawing Israel's borders with a future Palestinian state along 1967 lines.

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