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Suspected Ponzi schemer Sir Allen Stanford's chief investment officer Laura Pendergest-Holt was indicted in Houston this morning for obstructing and conspiring to obstruct the federal investigation into Stanford's sham money manager. Aside from a new allegation that Pendergest transferred $4.3 million of bank funds into the bank's operating account after speaking to the SEC, the charges don't appear much different from those laid out in a criminal complaint filed against the photogenic 35-year-old overseer of Stanford's "Tier 2" investments in February. (That's not for lack of rifling through her underwear drawer, according to a motion filed by her lawyer.)

That complaint depicted Pendergest-Holt's role in the Stanford enterprise as less mastermind than a case of (yes we realize this is a lame joke but) "Who Framed Jessica Rabbit?"

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So we told you earlier today that the Philadelphia Inquirer has signed up Bush torture guru John Yoo as a columnist.

But it gets worse. Greg Sargent points out that in March, Yoo used his new perch to attack civil libertarians who have criticized the Bush administration's expansion of executive power -- an expansion in which Yoo played a key role.

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Former Gov. Jesse Ventura (Independence Party-MN) appeared on Larry King Live last night, and he had some choice words for former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), the man that he defeated in the race for governor back in 1998:



Ventura said that the legal process in Minnesota is working out as it's supposed to be -- but at the same time it looks like Al Franken is the winner, and any federal appeal by Coleman should be thrown out.

King asked whether Ventura criticizes Coleman: "Well I criticize him only that Coleman's always been a hypocrite. He never does what he says," Ventura responded. "He said Election Night, when he won, that Franken should drop out, and he should be the Senator. Well, then the same should hold true after the recount."

Former Florida state House Speaker Marco Rubio, who is running a conservative primary challenge in the Republican Senate primary against moderate Gov. Charlie Crist, is all set to use Crist's support for the stimulus bill against him. Rubio now has this new Web ad, tying Crist directly to President Obama:



As Greg Sargent says: "It isn't every day that a politician seeks to turn a race into a referendum on his opponent's support for a President with an approval rating in the 60s, but these aren't ordinary times for today's GOP."

Obama might be popular with most Americans right now, but he's unpopular with the people who count in this race: The folks who will be voting in that Republican primary.

Now this is some chutzpah...

Norm Coleman is arguing that he should be able to use campaign funds to pay his legal bills in connection with the Nasser Kazeminy allegations, citing the need to respond to inquiries on the subject from TPMmuckraker and others in the media. But we're kind of unclear about what expenses the Coleman camp incurred here -- because they never responded to us in the first place.

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Last week, in the halcyon days before my recent haircut, I recorded an episode of bloggingheads with Matt Lewis of Politics Daily. As the title of this post suggests, he and I discussed a lot of the same issues we've been covering here at TPMDC, and, if you're interested you can see the full episode at this link. Below is a clip of our musings on a Sestak, Specter primary match up.



Again, this was filmed Wednesday, before Tom Ridge announced he will not run for Senate in Pennsylvania next year. But aside from that--and the...unusual 'do--the discussion's still pretty germane. Hope you enjoy.

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) visited his newfound party last night, speaking at a Philadelphia Democratic Committee fundraiser -- and commenting on the big change he's made in recent weeks.

A reporter asked Specter how Democratic gatherings differ from Republican ones. His answer: "There are a lot more people here than when Republicans get together."

That fact alone seems to be a self-perpetuating cycle -- after all, it was the decrease in moderate registered Republican voters in Pennsylvania that helped spur Arlen Specter to switch parties in the first place.

Specter also remarked of his transition: "There are a few bumps in the road. But I've got good shock absorption."

A Congressional Quarterly article about GOP efforts to get conservative Democrats to oppose major legislation contains an interesting admission from Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH).

Acording to the piece, Republicans "have vowed to block, reshape or defeat a number of Democratic initiatives in coming months, even though Specter's defection has left the Senate Republican caucus with just 40 members."

But in a 99-member Senate, 40 votes are enough to keep Democrats from cutting off debate on major legislation. "Usually you need 41 votes to get anything done around here. But right now, you can do a lot with 40 votes,'' said Judd Gregg


In a 99-seat Senate, 40 votes isn't nearly enough to "get anything done." Not at all. It is rather the bare minimum necessary to make sure nothing gets done. And it explains why so many Republican senators will routinely vote against cloture on major Democratic agenda items. It's called a filibuster--and it isn't typically thought of as way to "get stuff done."

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Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) has officially announced his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat of retiring GOP Sen. Mel Martinez, giving the Republicans an immediate frontrunner in this perennial swing state.

Crist faces a primary against conservative challenger Marco Rubio, the former state House Speaker who will likely blast Crist's support for the stimulus bill. Rubio put out a statement declaring: "My campaign will offer GOP voters a clear alternative to the direction some want to take our party."

The GOP establishment has made its choice clear: NRSC chairman John Cornyn put out a statement endorsing Crist: "With his record of reform in Florida, I know that Governor Crist will bring a fresh perspective to Washington in our efforts to fight for lower taxes, less government, and new job creation for all Americans."

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I've now had the chance to read through the Franken campaign's rebuttal brief in Norm Coleman's appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court, and there are a few themes that run through it. (Check out Rick Hasen's take, as well.) Coleman's arguments are derided as internally sloppy, inconsistent between each other, and overall a cause of harm to the state for delaying the seating of the rightful winner of the election -- Al Franken -- a situation that should be remedied as soon as possible.

"Even if this Court were to take Appellants claims at face value, each fails as a matter of law. In most cases, Appellants' claims are also barred as a procedural matter, and, even more fundamentally, they fail for simple lack of proof," the brief argues. "On each of these grounds, Respondent respectfully requests that the Court affirm the trial court and make clear that Al Franken is entitled to receive the certificate of election."

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