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Not so fast.

We reported earlier that the Indiana Supreme Court had declined to approve a Republican bid to halt early voting in three heavily Democratic cities in Lake County.

Based on the view of Rick Hasen, a noted expert on election law, we concluded: "Since the appeals court is unlikely to get involved before November 4th, today's ruling effectively ensures that voting will continue up until election day."

But it now looks like that's not a certainty. The Indiana Law Blog has just posted an order from the Court of Appeals, calling for an expedited briefing schedule and setting oral arguments from October 30th.

Based on that, Hasen now believes it's a "possibility" that the court could step in before election day.

Looks like this bears keeping an eye on.

A major voting-rights group has sent a letter to New Mexico U.S. Attorney Gregory Fouratt, calling on him to investigate claims of voter intimidation and suppression.

The letter, from the group Project Vote, comes in the wake of reporting by TPMmuckraker and others about a private investigator -- who said he was working for Pat Rogers, a lawyer connected to the state GOP -- appearing at the homes of Hispanic voters in Albuquerque, and questioning them about their right to vote. In a press release announcing the letter, Project Vote refers directly to these reports.

In its letter, Project Vote -- a non-profit voting-rights group that works to increase voting in low-income and minority communities -- writes:

This form of intimidation and suppression is in direct violation of Section 12 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as well as Section 2. We feel that the right of all Americans to vote is of the utmost importance, and if there is credible evidence of voter intimidation and suppression of a particular class of voters it should be addressed and promptly persecuted.


Fouratt was appointed U.S. Attorney for the district after the 2006 firing of David Iglesias. According to a recent DOJ report, Iglesias was removed for his failure to prosecute voter fraud cases he believed to be bogus.

The Indiana Supreme Court has declined to approve a bid by the GOP to shut down early voting centers in Democratic strongholds of a key county.

A lower court had similarly rejected the effort earlier this week. The Supreme Court ruled today that the case had to first be heard by an appeals court, rather than going straight to the state's high court as the Republican plaintiffs wanted.

Since the appeals court is unlikely to get involved before November 4th, today's ruling effectively ensures that voting will continue up until election day.

Four separate experts on voting rights have confirmed to TPMmuckraker that the behavior of a private investigator apparently hired by a New Mexico Republican party lawyer, that we reported this morning, potentially violates federal voting laws.

Gerry Hebert, a former acting head of the voting rights section of the Department of Justice, told TPMmuckraker that the P.I.'s actions appear to violate the criminal section of the federal Voting Rights Act, which makes it a crime to willfully injure, intimidate, or interfere with a person attempting to vote. Hebert added that a separate statute makes it a crime to conspire to intimidate someone in exercising their right to vote -- a provision that could apply to GOP lawyer Pat Rogers or others in the state party who may have been involved in the scheme.

"A matter like that ought to be reported to the DOJ immediately," said Hebert, adding that he planned to do so.

Jon Greenbaum of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights agreed, and added that the activities detailed in TPMmuckraker's report could violate both criminal and civil voting rights statutes. Greenbaum pointed to a civil provision of the Voting Rights Act which says that it violates the law to intimidate, threaten or coerce someone from voting or not voting.

Greenbaum too said he planned to pass on to the Department of Justice the claims made in our report.

Rick Hasen, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and a noted expert on election law, also said that the behavior potentially violated the Voting Rights Act or other federal civil-rights statutes.

And Wendy Weiser, a voting-rights expert at the Brennan Center for Justice, further confirmed that take.

An Albuquerque woman told TPMmuckraker yesterday that a man identifying himself as a private investigator hired by Rogers came to her mother's house Wednesday asking her mother for personal information and warning her not to vote if she wasn't properly registered. A second woman in the same city provided a simlar report to TPMmuckraker. The voters' names had been publicly released last week by Rogers and others affiliated with the state party, who claimed that 28 mostly Hispanic people had voted fraudulently in June. It was later determined that many of the people whose names had been released were valid voters.

The New Mexico Independent first reported the news of the intimidating visits last night.

The Tim Mahoney story just keeps getting worse and worse.

First it was a settlement over an alleged affair; then it was a second alleged affair; then it was admitting to multiple affairs and now it's seedy details behind the settlement with Mahoney's former mistress.

ABCNews.com reports that documents show Mahoney asked Patricia Allen, his former mistress and staffer to engage in phone sex and perform as a "tease c-ck" for big donors.

From ABCNews.com:

The settlement was reached after Allen hired a lawyer who sent the Congressman a "demand" letter, listing specific examples of Mahoney's alleged "gross misconduct" and "stalking" including:
a) Calling Allen late in the evenings and demanding "phone sex;"
b) Demanding that Allen answer his calls or face termination;
c) Demanding that Allen attend fundraisers and "tease c-ck" to bring in more donations from the male members of the public;
d) Demanding that Allen engage in sexual conduct with another woman for his enjoyment.

Current and former staffers told ABC News the allegations contained in the "demand letter" sent to Mahoney were backed up by tape recordings of phone calls between the Congressman and Allen.

The deliberations in the trial of Sen. Ted Stevens have been suspended for Friday after a juror had a family emergency, the AP reports.

Jurors will be excused from deliberations today and possibly Monday, so that Juror No. 4 can travel home to attend to the death of her father in California.

Today would be the third day of deliberations for the jury, which has already experienced a number of issues. On Wednesday, jurors asked to be excused early after things became "stressful." Yesterday, the foreman wrote a note to the judge requesting the removal of a juror who had become 'rude, disrespectful and unreasonable" and had "violent outbursts."

Minority voters in New Mexico report to TPMmuckraker that a private investigator working with Republican party lawyer Pat Rogers has appeared in person at the homes of their family members, intimidating and confusing them about their right to vote in the general election.

Earlier this week, we reported that Rogers -- a lawyer and state committeeman for the GOP, who in previous elections worked closely with the party in pressuring New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias to pursue bogus voter fraud cases -- is involved with a new effort to gin up concerns about the issue. Last week the state party falsely claimed that 28 people had voted fraudulently in a local Democratic primary race in June. Rogers, described in an Associated Press report on the allegations as "an attorney who advises the state GOP," told the news wire that the party planned to turn the suspect forms over to law enforcement authorities.

The visits to minority voters by the P.I. appear to be connected to last week's effort.

The story starts last week, when several representatives of the New Mexico Republican party, including Rogers, held a press conference to announce that 28 people had voted fraudulently in a Democratic primary in June in Bernalillo county, which contains Albuquerque. The party released the names of ten of these people -- almost all of whom are Hispanic.

The allegations quickly fell apart. ACORN announced that it had contacted the county clerk's office, who had verified that all of the voters were in fact legitimate. The group now says it has independently contacted 8 of these 10 voters to separately verify their validity.

At that point, the national GOP, which had at first jumped on the story as rare evidence of genuine voter fraud, seemed to quietly back off.

But that wasn't the end of the story.

Guadalupe Bojorquez, who works in law enforcement in Albuquerque, told TPMmuckraker today that her mother, Dora Escobedo, was one of the ten voters whose names were released by the GOP. After this happened, said Bojorquez, her mother had been contacted by the voter registration group ACORN. Bojorquez, with ACORN's help, confirmed with the county clerk that her mother, who does not speak English, is indeed eligible to vote, and had been when she voted in June.

Nonetheless, Bojorquez said that her mother yesterday received a visit from a man who asked for her personal information, including an ID, in reference to her eligibility to vote. Bojorquez told TPMmuckraker that according to her mother, at one point the man asked what she would do if immigration authorities contacted her.

After Bojorquez's mother, frightened, refused to let him in the door, the man waited outside her house. Eventually, Bojorquez's brother arrived at the house, emboldening Bojorquez's mother to go outside, call Bojorquez, and put her on the phone with the man.

Bojorquez said the man told her he wanted to make sure her mother knew that she shouldn't be voting, and continued to ask for her mother's personal information. When Bojorquez said that no information would be handed over unless the man revealed who he was employed by, he said he was a private investigator hired by Pat Rogers. He told Bojorquez his name was Al Romero, and left a number at which Bojorquez could contact him.

Bojorquez added that in fact, her mother has already voted in the general election, by absentee ballot -- which she is eligible for because she has trouble walking -- so Romero's efforts on that front were in vain.

Another Albuquerque woman had a similar experience.

Jenais Griego told TPMmuckraker that yesterday, as she arrived home with her kids, a man in a beige Chevy Silverado pulled up, removed a notebook from his pocket, and said he was looking for Emily Garcia. Garcia is Griego's grandmother -- Griego said Garcia, who works as a home care-giver, lists Griego's address for her mail -- and, like Escobedo, was one of the voters named by the GOP last week as having voted fraudulently in June.

Griego said she allowed the man in, and when she asked him for identification, he pulled out a card that gave his name as Al Romero. She said the man had a redacted copy of Garcia's voter registration form, and asked whether Garcia intended to vote. He said if she intended to do so, she needed to make sure she was properly registered.

As with Bojorquez and Escobedo, Griego said that Garcia had already confirmed after the GOP press conference that she was indeed a valid voter. An ACORN worker had come to her house to explain that the GOP had questioned her registration, and, along with Griego, they had contacted the county clerk to ensure that she could legitimately vote, and had done so in June.

So when Romero asked Griego whether Garcia intended to vote, Griego replied that she did. At that point, said Griego, Romero became "angry" and "upset," and left abruptly.

Rogers did not return several calls from TPMmuckraker seeking comment. But last week he said that the state party had hired a private investigator in connection with vote fraud.

Reached by TPMmuckraker at the phone number he provided to Bojorquez, Romero said he didn't have time to talk about the matter. He did not respond to repeated follow-up calls.

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) may be in some trouble with the age-old bipartisan House Franking Commission. The commission, which oversees congressional mailing standards, is investigating whether Roskam violated franking rules by sending out official mail within 90 days of an election. (Roll Call)

Lawyers for six Bosnian detainees at Guantanamo are battling it out with the Justice Department in front of a federal judge over who can be considered an enemy combatant. Once given the enemy combatant label, detainees can be held indefinitely without charges. The judge overseeing the case said Thursday that the debate "should have been resolved a long time ago." (AP/Boston Globe)

Despite a bumpy start, it was all smiles after day two of jury deliberations in the federal corruption trial of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) according to the judge overseeing the case. After a dramatic second day, the jurors left just before 4 p.m. after coming together to announce that they were "unanimous in requesting a break." (Roll Call)

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Apparently there's more to Scott Bloch's resignation as head of U.S. Special Counsel that meets the eye. According to the National Journal's Congress Daily, Bloch was fired today in a meeting with White House officials.

From Congress Daily:

Scott Bloch, the embattled head of the U.S. Special Counsel, was fired today in a meeting with White House officials, according to several sources. Bloch is under federal investigation for possible obstruction of justice for destroying computer files sought by investigators in prior probe into whether he retaliated illegally against whistleblowers in his office. On Monday Bloch announced plans to resign on Jan. 5. OSC employees said Federal Protective Service employees barred Bloch from his office today. The agency has an all-hands meeting at 4 p.m.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed an FEC complaint today against Sarah Palin and the Republican National Committee for violating federal election law in spending $150,000 outfitting the Alaska governor.

The group claims the excessive spending is a violation of campaign finance law which specifically prohibits candidates from using campaign funds for personal use.

"It is ridiculous that RNC would spend $150,000 to outfit a vice presidential nominee and her family at any time, but it is more outrageous given the dire financial straights of so many Americans and the state of our economy," CREW director Melanie Sloan said in a statement. "If the RNC had an extra $150,000 to throw around, there were better alternatives than pricey designer clothes."

Earlier this week, the RNC responded to possible violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act by stating that all of Palin's clothes would be donated to charity after the election.

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