TPM News

It would be going too far to say Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) is a shoe-in to vote for the Democrats' financial regulatory reform bill. But after a meeting with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner this afternoon, she sounded much more optimistic about the prospects for a swift bipartisan vote on a slightly modified package than she did last week--and that's even if she's the only Republican who ends up voting with the Democrats.

"I'm optimistic that maybe the Democrats won't go forward with the bill as it is," Snowe told reporters outside her office. "Over the next few days, hopefully, something will change to make that possible. I don't see why it would be impossible because frankly I think that there isn't that much of a gap."

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Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) is calling out armed protesters who used a D.C.-area national park in his district to protest the federal government today.

In a tough statement from his office today, Moran -- never one to hold back when it comes to people he disagrees with -- said that doesn't care for the new laws allowing people to carry guns at national parks, and he said that the fact that protesters are taking advantage of them "raises major public safety concerns."

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Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) remains opposed to the financial reform legislation after a meeting with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Collins, one of the few moderate Republicans the White House and Senate leaders were hoping to win over despite her signing a letter pledging to filibuster the bill, told reporters she wants to go to the floor with a bipartisan bill.

"It's much more effective to go to the floor with a bipartisan bill," Collins said today.

"It is much harder to correct fundamental flaws in a bill once it's gotten to the Senate floor. For one thing it can take 60 votes to make those corrections. So I think it's far better to come up with a bipartisan bill in the first place and go to the floor with that bill."

Reporting by Brian Beutler

Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) formally endorsed Marco Rubio for Senate today, in the high-profile Florida Senate race. And Romney went further, saying that Gov. Charlie Crist should either continue to run in the Republican primary, or drop out -- and not run as an independent.

"It sure would be an enormous mistake to do something that would make it easier for Congressman Meek to be the next senator from Florida," said Romney, the St. Petersburg Times reports.

The TPM Poll Average has Crist trailing Marco Rubio by a margin of 59.1%-27.9%, a mirror image of where things were a year ago. Crist has in the past repeatedly denied that he might run as an independent, but seems to be leaving the door open lately.

When Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) announced he would vote against health care reform, several unions suggested they would find someone else to endorse come November.

That someone may be Mac D'Alessandro, the regional political director for an SEIU local in Massachusetts. D'Alessandro announced this weekend that he will challenge Lynch for the Democratic nomination. He must get 2,000 signatures by May 4 in order to get on the primary ballot.

D'Alessandro has worked for the SEIU since 2001, according to the Boston Globe, but he has never held public office.

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Erik Lawrence Pidrman, 66, of Spring Hill, Florida, was charged today for allegedly making a threat via phone against Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite's (R-FL), the United States Attorney's Office for Middle District of Florida announced this afternoon.

Pidrman, who was arrested Sunday, allegedly called Brown-Waite's Brooksville, Florida, office early in the morning on March 25 and left a voicemail saying: "Just wanna let you know I have 27 people that are going to make sure that this b**** does not live to see her next term."

That was just a few days after Brown-Waite voted no on the health care bill.

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A tough statement from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's spokesman Jim Manley sets the tone for a flank of Senate Democrats' messaging this week:

"Senators McConnell and Cornyn should immediately reveal what they discussed earlier this month during secret, closed-door meeting with Wall Street executives in New York City," Manley said, adding:

Years of greed and excess on Wall Street cost 8 million jobs and trillions in wealth for middle-class families and small businesses. Since Republicans appear to be conducting backroom negotiations with these same people who took our economy to the brink of collapse, the public deserves to know what secret deals and carve-outs Republicans are offering Wall Street executives in exchange for their support.

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In an effort to win business from the Jordanian government, Blackwater execs gifted Glocks, an M4 rifle, and a shotgun, among other weapons, to the King of Jordan, according to prosecutors. But, say the Feds, the execs then realized they couldn't account for the weapons -- so they falsely told the government that they had bought them as individuals.

In an indictment filed Friday against Blackwater's former president, Gary Jackson, and four other former Blackwater staffers, prosecutors write that in 2005, the company -- now known as Xe Services -- was seeking to gain favor with the government of Jordan, in order to boost its chances of doing business there.

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The new inspector general report on the SEC's handling of the Allen Stanford alleged Ponzi scheme case paints a devastating picture of the agency's repeated failures to pursue the billionaire banker, despite a widespread belief within the SEC's Fort Worth office that he was a fraud.

At the center of the story is Spencer Barasch, the chief of enforcement at the SEC's Fort Worth office, who declined to pursue Stanford multiple times, only to later jump ship to become a partner at a big private law firm where he proceeded to represent none other than 'Sir' Allen Stanford.

The inspector general has referred Barasch to the bars of Washington and Texas, where he is licensed, for potential violation of conflict of interest rules.

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