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Robert W. Finn, bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, has made a deal with authorities to avoid a second round of criminal charges in response to an indictment of failure to report a priest accused of taking pornographic pictures of girls. Finn will “meet monthly with a county prosecutor to detail every suspicious episode involving abuse of a child in his diocese for the next five years,” The New York Times reports.

Notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff -- like the D.C. lobbying reform world -- is calling B.S. on Newt Gingrich's claim that he was paid handsomely as a "historian" for Freddie Mac.

"I know he says they paid him as a historian to give a historic lesson, but I'm unaware of any history professor being paid that much money to give someone a history lesson," Abramoff told NBC's David Gregory.

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An Alaska militia leader accused in a plot against the government is accusing an FBI cooperating witness of "pushing and pushing" him to mobilize against the government and fanning the flames of government overthrow.

Francis "Schaeffer" Cox recalls in an affidavit filed in federal court on Tuesday that he (accompanied by Jeremy Baker and Les Zerbe) met with gun dealer Bill Fulton in Fairbanks in August 2010. Cox says Fulton was in town to participate in a fundraiser for the Interior Conservative Coalition that was being held at Far North Tactical, which is owned by Fulton "protege" Aaron Bennett.

Fulton is one of the FBI's confidential informants in the case. You may remember him as part of Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller's security detail, who handcuffed and detained Alaska Dispatch editor Tony Hopfinger for trying to question and videotape Miller.

Cox's attorney Nelson Traverso wrote in a motion to dismiss the indictment that Fulton's "complete role has yet to be disclosed."

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Newt Gingrich has plenty of skeletons in his closet that could derail his newfound momentum. But it's his post-Speaker days as a high-paid GOP consultant for Freddie Mac that are proving the biggest threat so far.

On Wednesday, Michele Bachmann became the first Republican rival to lay into Gingrich over his reported $1.6 million payday.

"Fannie and Freddie, as you know, have been the epicenter of the financial meltdown in this country," she told an Iowa crowd according to National Journal. "And whether former Speaker Gingrich made $300,000 or whether he made $2 million, the point is that he took money to influence senior Republicans to be favorable toward Fannie and Freddie. While he was taking that money I was fighting against Fannie and Freddie."

How did we end up at this point? It all began on November 9 at a Republican debate hosted by CNBC when Gingrich was asked about old reports that he had received $300,000 from Freddie Mac in 2006 to help convince Republicans in Congress not to go after it.

"I offered advice," he said, denying he had done any lobbying work. "My advice as an historian when they walked in and said we are now making loans to people that have no credit history and have no record of paying back anything but that's what the government wants us to do. I said at the time, this is a bubble. This is insane. This is impossible. It turned out unfortunately I was right and the people who were doing exactly what Congresswoman Bachmann talked about were wrong."



His response was a crowd-pleaser, but included a slew of assertions that later proved to be misleading at best and outright false at worst. Predictably, reports soon surfaced highlighting the contradictions and driving the story well into the next week.

First off, his "historian" role seemed to be more than a bit of a stretch. Freddie Mac acknowledged that his contract did not include lobbying work, but officials told Bloomberg he had been hired as a consultant specifically to convince Republicans who wanted to dismantle the mortgage giant to back off. Nobody had any memory of him warning about impending financial doom either. Meanwhile, lobbying watchdogs pointed out that his "consultant" title was commonly used by ex-politicians to avoid having to register as lobbyists while performing highly similar functions.

As more details emerged about his ties to Freddie Mac, Gingrich's campaign became less witty and defiant in its descriptions of his work. Gingrich told The Huffington Post on Tuesday that he "offered strategic advice over a period of time" for Freddie Mac but couldn't remember when or what he told them about the subprime mortgage crisis that would trigger a worldwide financial collapse in 2008.

Early the next day Bloomberg broke the news that Gingrich's ties to Freddie Mac were far, far, more extensive and lucrative than anyone had known. Over a period of eight years ending in 2008 Gingrich had collected between $1.6 million and $1.8 million.

Worse, while there was little record of Gingrich publicly warning about an incoming mortgage crisis, Gingrich had plenty to say in late 2008 about other politicians who accepted political donations or consulting fees from Freddie Mac. First, he called for a Congressional investigation into lawmakers who had accepted their contributions. Later, he demanded that Democrats return any money they had received from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in light of the subprime mortgage disaster. He offered unsolicited advice to Republican presidential nominee John McCain urging him to attack President Obama over his Freddie Mac donations.

"I think Congress ought to also be under investigation," he told Sean Hannity on FOX News. "If we're looking at greed, let's look at the politicians as well as the people who gave to them."

Gingrich's recollection of his old consulting gig grew hazier throughout the day.

"I have no idea about the details," he told the New York Times' Jeff Zeleny. "It was paid to Gingrich Group. Gingrich Group has many clients."

In classic Gingrich form, he tried to spin his big money work for a mortgage giant that he and most of his rivals openly blame for a devastating recession as a net positive with the Republican electorate.

"It reminds people that I know a great deal about Washington and if you want to change Washington, we just tried four years of amateur ignorance and it didn't work very well," he said in Iowa. "So having somebody who actually knows Washington might be a really good thing."

And while Gingrich told reporters on Wednesday that he'd release documents to clarify his role with Freddie Mac, his campaign opted instead for a "fact sheet" that evening that mostly restated his public account of his time there. His spokesman told the Des Moines Register that no further records were coming.

The whole episode is yet another reminder that Gingrich, despite his surge in the polls, is still relatively untested after being written off for dead early in the campaign. There are plenty of inconsistencies in his record that he'll likely be forced to explain if he keeps up his frontrunner spot.

Businessman Herman Cain continues to lead in a poll of Iowa GOP caucus-goers, conducted completely after sexual allegations levied against him by multiple women were made public. Cain leads with 24.5 percent of the vote, Rep. Ron Paul is second with 20.4 percent, and former Mass Gov. Mitt Romney is third with 16.3 in a poll from Iowa State University from Nov. 1st to the 13th.

However, in keeping with the nature of the GOP race, pollsters said that the current numbers are subject to rapid change.

From ISU:



But the race remains remarkably fluid. Respondents were asked how certain they were of their choice and the majority of them (52.3 percent) indicated that they were undecide. Another 30.1 percent answered that they were only leaning toward one candidate. Only 16.5 percent indicated that they had definitely decided whom they would support.

In a letter to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) obtained by The Hill, Texas governor Rick Perry offers up a challenge: “I am in Washington Monday and would love to engage you in a public debate about my Overhaul Washington plan versus the congressional status quo.”

On Tuesday, Gov. Perry introduced his “Overhaul Washington” plan, calling for “a part-time Congress where their pay is cut in half, their office budgets are cut in half, and their time in Washington is cut in half.”

It is a highly unusual step for a presidential candidate to challenge a congressional leader for a debate, and it is even more unusual for Perry to actively seek out a debate opportunity. As recently as a few weeks ago, there was speculation that he would actually skip some debate performances.

Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) is having some serious trouble with his fundraising, reports the Houston Chronicle. His recent debate gaffes and plunging polling numbers are correspondingly affecting his campaign war chest.

“It’s the iron rule of politics: Money follows popularity,” Austin lobbyist and Perry donor Bill Miller told the paper. “It goes up if you’re popular and goes down if you’re not.”

Another Perry fundraiser said he expects the governor to raise between $3 and $5 million in the final quarter of 2012—less than one-third of what he raised in just the first six weeks of his candidacy.

The Perry campaign has been trying to stem the bleeding, contacting former donors who have given less than the maximum gift of $2,500 and asking them to “see what you can do to help us through this rough patch.” In addition, the campaign is hoping to land a big endorsement to generate some positive buzz.

About 500 Occupy Wall Street protesters on Thursday marched to the New York Stock Exchange, Reuters reports. Massive demonstrations are reportedly planned for Thursday. According to journalists on the scene, police have barricaded some streets in lower Manhattan and are requiring work identification to let people through.

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