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On a conference call with reporters just now, lead Franken attorney Marc Elias went over the election court's ruling last night that Al Franken was the winner of this race.

"We are thrilled by the results," said Elias. "The court showed the great care that it has shown throughout the trial in considering all of the evidence, in weighing all of the arguments made by both sides, considering the testimony of all the witnesses it had, and rendering what can only be described as a through and thoughtful final order and judgement."

For obvious reasons, Elias has a different opinion of this ruling than Coleman legal spokesman Ben Ginsberg, who has panned the ruling and announced that Coleman will appeal it.

So what happens next?

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Since it appeared near the top of the list of AIG's investment bank counterparties, investors -- and bloggers, and politicians, and anyone with an interest in the bailout -- have been eagerly awaiting the first quarter results of Goldman Sachs. Would the unwind, as rumored, be wholly responsible for a profitable quarter at the investment bank?

It's hard to say: the nature of accounting doesn't make it easy to determine these things. But what was interesting about the earnings numbers was the separate set of numbers for December 2008, which the bank dubbed an orphan month. Goldman changed its reporting schedule this year to follow a calendar year from a fiscal year that started in December. While this was initially reported as a sneaky losses-hiding tactic, Morgan Stanley did it too -- it's part of the emergency classification switch that changed the two investment banks into "bank holding companies" and enabled them to borrow cheaply from the Fed last September.

It looks like Goldman booked its big AIG payday during the "orphan month." This would dovetail with the chief financial officer's playing down of the AIG impact on its conference call this morning:

First of all, virtually all of those cash flows, which as you know were just cash flows, they had nothing to do with the P/L and in fact, most of them were value-for-value cash flows, most of those took place before the end of the year. The mane [sic: think this means Maiden Lane] lane transactions were unwound before the end of the year. I would say our P/L related to AIG in the first quarter rounded to zero.

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Et tu, Joe?

Last year, while trying to win the Democratic nomination for president, Joe Biden co-sponsored a bill to restrict the use of the "state secrets privilege" by the Department of Justice. But today, asked by the Huffington Post for Biden's current stance on the legislation, a spokesman for the vice president replied: "No comment on this from here." That "no comment" follows a similar tight-lipped stance from the White House itself.

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Here's some of the latest news from the still up in the air NY-20 special election:

• The latest numbers from the state show Democratic candidate Scott Murphy leading Republican Jim Tedisco by 56 votes, up from yesterday's margin of 25 votes, as more absentees start coming in from the pro-Murphy areas of Columbia County and Warren County.

• And speaking of those counties, they have been some of the prime areas where the Tedisco campaign has been keeping absentees ballots out of the count, by challenging the eligibility of voters who maintain multiple homes. A Murphy representative has also alleged that the Tedisco campaign is targeting voters for not just being registered Democrats, but on ethnicity: "Cohen, Pollack, Rosegarten, Winakor -- there's a pattern: they're Democrats and they're Jewish."

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You can say one thing for Ted Stevens -- he's got cojones.

Court records that were just unsealed show that the former Alaska senator last summer turned down a plea deal with prosecutors that would have resulted in no jail time.

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We haven't written much about the Tea Party Movement, because it's always seemed fairly blown out of proportion. Conservatives compare it to an anti-tax version of the Iraq war protests, but those protests drew scores of thousands of people into the streets and the "tea parties" that have occurred thus far haven't been nearly that large.

But in recent days, a new angle on this story has emerged--one which casts some doubt on the degree to which these protests are in any way organic. Lee Fang of ThinkProgress and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman have led the charge, calling the tea parties astroturf events--paid for and, perhaps, populated by, well-funded top-down organizations like FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity.

Jon Henke of the website The Next Right defended the tea parties from the charge, writing that "[w]hat FreedomWorks and various other organizations are doing is not "astroturf" any more than the anti-war protests of some years back were astroturf because ANSWER and helped organize people around those events."

There are, of course, differences between MoveON and FreedomWorks. But his post nonetheless raises a couple interesting questions, such as: Who first proposed holding tea party events? When did major conservative organizations get involved? And how much support have they gained along the way?

The answer to the first question is "FreedomWorks." The answer to the second question is "right from the start." And the answer to the last question is "less than you'd expect, given the months of hype."

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After an initial silence, the national GOP is now commenting on Norm Coleman's loss yesterday in the Minnesota election trial, and Coleman's determination to appeal.

NRSC chairman John Cornyn just sent out an e-mail giving Norm his support, and declaring that the protections of the constitution, and of the enfranchisement of every voter, are at stake.

"Unfortunately, those fundamental principles are under attack in Minnesota," Cornyn writes. "Since Senator Norm Coleman was first ahead by hundreds of votes at the end of election night, the Democrats have aggressively worked to change the rules of the game after it's been played."

Full e-mail, after the jump.

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Congress is demanding information from AIG about reports that the bailed-out insurance giant has four PR firms on its payroll -- and about its recent PR blitz aimed at discrediting former CEO Hank Greenberg.

In a letter sent this morning to AIG chief Ed Liddy and obtained exclusively by TPMmuckraker, House Oversight committee chair Ed Towns requests detailed information on AIG's PR expenses, specifically mentioning Hill & Knowlton, and Mark Penn's Burson-Marsteller, two high-priced experts in Washington spin that have signed on to represent the firm.

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