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Two ex-leaders of the Oakland County Democratic Party are facing nine felony charges for allegedly committing voter fraud when attempting to get fake tea party candidates on Michigan ballots last November, as a way to pry support away from Republican candidates.

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Scott Walker's approval rating may be in the dumps with his constituents, but by taking on public employee unions, he's made himself quite popular with Republicans nationwide.

In fact, a new PPP poll of registered voters finds that Republicans actually like Walker better than the big-name GOPers who are considering presidential bids. That shows that Walker, like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, has become a Republican favorite for his tough budget talk and his willingness to butt heads with unions. But it also underscores how tepid Republicans are toward their current slate of presidential aspirants, and how a fresh conservative face could shake up the GOP primary next year.

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Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) isn't sweating the mocking his emotional testimony before Rep. Peter King's (R-NY) hearings on Muslim extremism last week generated from the right.

Asked by TPM Wednesday about the drubbing he's received from conservative pundits since he teared up before King's panel, Ellison basically said, what else is new?

"Well, you know, I don't anticipate some people will appreciate everything that I say and stand for," he said. "But I'll say this: American people realize that when we say freedom and justice for all, that means all. You know, Muslims too."

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Ahead of a vote on a bill blocking funding to NPR set to take place this afternoon, the White House issued a statement condemning efforts to cut the public broadcaster off from federal dollars.

The House Rules Committee voted yesterday in an emergency hearing to send H.R. 1076, which prohibits the government from supporting NPR programming or that of local affiliates, to the floor. The bill would not reduce the deficit as the funds could be used for administrative costs by local stations instead and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, but the White House warns that small rural stations could shut down without federal funding to purchase content. Republicans previously voted to defund the entire Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supports NPR, but that bill was rejected in the Senate.

You can read the White House statement after the jump.

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In a sign of just how high the stakes could be for the the potential state Senate recalls in Wisconsin, in the wake of the recent passage of Gov. Scott Walker's anti-public employee union bill, one of the targeted Republican legislators has hired a campaign manager with national experience.

As the Fond du Lac Reporter notes, GOP state Sen. Randy Hopper has hired Jeff Harvey, whose previous high-profile campaigns have included roles with Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ). Harvey arrived in the state this past weekend.

In addition to the new anti-public employee union law, Hopper faces other obstacles related to his ongoing divorce, and public accusations of adultery by his estranged wife. A survey released earlier this week by Daily Kos, conducted by Public Policy Polling (D), showed Hopper trailing a generic Democrat by a margin of 49%-44%.

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A federal review of the New Orleans Police Department has found the department used excessive force; made unconstitutional stops, searches and arrests; engaged in biased policing based on race, ethnicity and sexual orientation; failed to provide effective policing services to those with limited English proficiency; and systematically failure to investigate sexual assaults and domestic violence.

The review by the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division confirmed systemic failures in the notorious NOPD which they said "developed over a long period of time." The report comes after the Civil Rights Division has spent nearly a year virtually camped out in New Orleans monitoring the operation of the NOPD.

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1||March 16, 2011: A group of a couple hundred union workers, labor activists and progressives turned the lobby of a DC office building into a mini-Wisconsin State Capitol Wednesday afternoon.

Protesters stormed the building of lobbying powerhouse BGR in downtown DC that was hosting a fundraiser for Wisconsin state Republicans. TPM's Evan McMorris-Santoro reported from the scene.||TPM/Evan McMorris-Santoro&&

2||The largest contingents were workers from the AFSCME union and the AFL-CIO but many other groups came out as well.||TPM/Evan McMorris-Santoro&&

3||Following the protests, everyone filed out to continue the protest where it started, on the sidewalk outside.||TPM/Evan McMorris-Santoro&&

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5||No incidents were reported after a short stand in the lobby.||TPM/Evan McMorris-Santoro&&

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11||Joslyn Williams, president of the DC AFL-CIO council and a member of AFSMCE local 2477, addressed the crowd and declared a ten-minute occupation before the crowd moved outside.||TPM/Evan McMorris-Santoro&&

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13||TPM spoke to a real life socialist on the scene who'd only go by "Mike" who said "The reality is, the better working people have it, the better everyone has it, claiming that fighting for a "strong middle class" is what socialism is all about.||TPM/Evan McMorris-Santoro&&

14||During the protest, a number of people who looked like they worked in the building stood in front of the elevators, barring anyone from going near them.||TPM/Evan McMorris-Santoro&&

15||The BGR Group, the lobbying firm Barbour helped to found in 1991, has long been known for its ties to the GOP. Among its executives are Bob Wood, a former aide to Tommy Thompson, the Republican governor of Wisconsin for 14 years. And on BGR's past client list is a large energy company - and that's raising eyebrows with watchdog groups.||TPM/Evan McMorris-Santoro&&

16||The Daily Kos reported there was a march to the Chamber of Commerce with as many as a 1000 people afterward. ||TPM/Evan McMorris-Santoro&&

Donald Trump got a little bit birther-curious in his interview with ABC News, saying of President Obama's time growing up in Hawaii: "The reason I have a little doubt, just a little, is because he grew up and nobody knew him."

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A homeschooling group in Iowa will be hosting some potential presidential hopefuls for a rally at the state Capitol next week, the Des Moines Register reports.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), businessman Herman Cain, and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) will be speaking at the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators' (NICHE) annual "Homeschool Day at the Capitol" on Wednesday, March 23.

Afterwards, the three will speak at a NICHE event in Des Moines, along with Iowa Congressman Steve King.

Darrell Issa (R-CA) lobbed criticism at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Wednesday night and revealed he is investigating allegations that the agency intentionally let more than 1,700 guns be illegally trafficked to Mexico.

Issa, who is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told the Roger Hedgecock Show the ATF probe will be one of his primary investigations.

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