TPM News

OK, it's small potatoes compared to John Thain's legendary $1.2 million redecoration of his Merill Lynch office suite. But still: in these cash-strapped times, we're wondering how RNC members feel about Michael Steele's decision to spend $18,500 on his own quarters.

Check out this nugget, from a Politico story about rancor between Steele and the committee members:

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Earlier this year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested the creation of an internal "Pecora-like" congressional committee to investigate the causes of the financial crisis, and, since then, we've been following the idea as it moves closer to fruition.

In the last couple weeks, there have been some significant developments on that front. On the House side, influential Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) introduced a stand-alone resolution that mirrors Pelosi's preference. "This [House] select committee," Dingell said, would "be comprised of members appointed from the Committees on Financial Services, Agriculture, Energy and Commerce, and Oversight and Government Reform...modeled on the Pecora Commission that held hearings in 1932 and 1933 to investigate the roots of the Great Depression."

The Pecora investigations were conducted in the Senate Banking Committee, but you get the idea. Dingell hasn't been in close conversation with leadership about his particular plan, but he did send Pelosi a letter asking for her support. I asked Dingell spokesman Adam Benson why Dingell prefers this configuration as oppose to, for instance, an independent outside commission. He said, "The committees of jurisdiction should be involved because they'll be the ones to write any legislation that results from the investigation."

Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and John McCain (R-AZ) feel much the same way. They introduced a measure that would create a select committee in the Senate with the same charge. "While I also support an outside commission, and have previously introduced legislation to establish such a commission," Dorgan said, "I believe the Senate has an important oversight responsibility that cannot be delegated. That's why we need a select Senate committee to investigate this financial crisis and make sure it never happens again."

That measure--an amendment to the Fraud Enforcement Recovery Act (FERA)--got the go ahead earlier this week when the bill overwhelmingly passed the Senate.

But another, similar FERA amendment would create an external commission, containing members appointed by both House and Senate leaders, and Hill sources suggest that's where the action is.

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So what exactly is the deal with Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) and the potential new GOP candidate, Kentucky Sec. of State Trey Grayson? Is Bunning going to hang up his cleats -- or is he still in it to win it in 2010?

Yesterday, Grayson formed an exploratory committee for a potential bid -- but said he'll only actually run if Bunning retires. Keep in mind that it's widely reported that the GOP leadership wants Bunning to retire, rather than protect him as a weak incumbent in what should be a decent red state for them, and Bunning himself has accused them of sabotaging him.

Here's where it gets tricky. It was reported that Bunning gave Grayson permission to do this -- seemingly a giveaway that he'll retire and anoint Grayson as his preferred successor, thus giving the GOP a much more electable candidate. The problem is, Bunning's spokesman is publicly indicating otherwise: "Senator Bunning has every intention of running."

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Remember James Ricobene, the suburban Chicago man who fell behind on his Mercedes payments and found a threatening wall post on his daughter's MySpace page a few weeks later? Yeah, we thought that was bad, but some of you had much worse tales from the collection agency annals.

But the tale of Phoenix's Jennifer Dicks and her delinquent Chevy Cavalier is so beyond we fully expect Lifetime to option the story for a film. Last year Dicks (allegedly) bought a Chevy Cavalier with a loan from the Auto Financing Network, a local auto loan company that claims to approve 100% of applicants for loans. AFN's website claims its Top 3 Priorities of 2008 are #1 Treat Customer Right #2 Treat Customer Right #3 Treat Customer Right.

A new motto for 2009 might be in order. ("Treat Customer Like Psycho Ex-Girlfriend"?) In a lawsuit filed against the company in an Arizona superior court Dicks claims the collection agency went so far as to buy the url that matches her name and create a "Jennifer Dicks isn't paying for her Cavalier!" website.

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Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), the Christian Right champion whose career became mired in the D.C. Madam prostitution scandal in 2007, may be on the verge of getting a primary challenger: Porn-star Stormy Daniels is responding to the draft effort to get her into the Republican primary, and has now announced a listening tour.

Daniels will hold her first event in Baton Rouge on May 5, followed by a New Orleans event on May 6. A Daniels candidacy, if it does occur, would likely turn out to be a vehicle to remind voters of Vitter's moral hypocrisy.

"DraftStormy is excited about the listening tour and is confident that it will help persuade Stormy Daniels to accept their challenge and run for Senate," the press release says. "We believe that the voters of Louisiana are ready for change and look forward to bringing honesty, integrity, and strength of character back to the United States Senate."

Full press release after the jump.

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Anything's possible. But before they try, they should reflect on this Dear Colleague letter, co-written on June 29, 2001 by the then-chairman and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) respectively.

U.S. SENATE, COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY, Washington, DC, June 29, 2001.

DEAR COLLEAGUE: We are cognizant of the important constitutional role of the Senate in connection with Supreme Court nominations. We write as Chairman and Ranking Republican Member on the Judiciary Committee to inform you that we are prepared to examine carefully and assess such presidential nominations.

The Judiciary Committee's traditional practice has been to report Supreme Court nominees to the Senate once the Committee has completed its considerations. This has been true even in cases where Supreme Court nominees were opposed by a majority of the Judiciary Committee.

We both recognize and have every intention of following the practices and precedents of the Committee and the Senate when considering Supreme Court nominees.


Patrick J. Leahy, Chairman.

Orrin G. Hatch, Ranking Republican Member.

There is, of course, some precedent for tying up Supreme Court nominees one way or another in the Judiciary Committee. But by and large even controversial nominees get reported out, even if unfavorably.

Late update: You can read the original letter in its entirety here.

AIG and the House Oversight committee have agreed to a date, May 13, on which the firm's CEO, Ed Liddy, will testify before the committee. But it looks like Liddy will be going to Washington kicking and screaming.

As we noted earlier this week, the committee invited Liddy to testify May 6, and told us that it expected to see him then. But today the Wall Street Journal reports (sub. req.) that that day "was scrapped because AIG is due to report its results for the first quarter the following day."

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) appeared the other day on the Fox Business Channel, and during the interview she was asked exactly what she meant when she connected swine flu outbreaks to Democratic administrations. She immediately changed the subject, as you can see at the 0:55 mark:

"Well, actually, I had a full, uh, conversation that I was having with another station -- primarily about the economy, because that's what we're worried about right now," said Bachmann. "And we had just found out about the swine flu at that time, the aggressive nature of how far it was progressing. So the real topic of conversation was on the economy, as it should be. The economy right now is at a situation where we're not seeing the level of recovery that we would like to see."

She then proceeded to talk about the harmful effects of President Obama's big spending and the stimulus bill, and how without the stimulus the recovery would have already been happening.

The fun part here is that this exchange is from a clip that was posted on her own YouTube account.