TPM News

For the Tea Party Express, old habits die hard. TPE's PAC, Our Country Deserves Better, continued through the election cycle with its track record of raising money in support of grass-roots tea party candidates and then funneling those donations to the Republican consulting firm that founded it, recent filings show.

In a month-long period surrounding the midterm elections, a whopping 73 percent of funds raised -- totaling $599,377 -- was paid out to Russo Marsh and Associates, the Sacramento-based GOP political consulting firm that essentially founded the PAC in 2008, for miscellaneous costs including travel, consulting fees and media buys.

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Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL) last month ordered the Capitol Police to block the doors of the ethics committee offices for a week during a partisan dispute over the handling of the ethics case against Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), the Washington Post reported.

A Capitol Police officer guarded the door of the ethics committee offices during Thanksgiving week and about eight staffers were told not to come to work, sources told the Post last week. Reached by TPM, a spokesman in Bonner's office declined to comment. Lofgren's office referred all questions to the ethics committee, which has not offered comment.

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Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) today announced that he would both vote in favor of cloture on the START treaty and for its eventual passage, bucking GOP leadership. Many of his party's leaders have been complaining that they haven't had enough time to review the treaty, signed in April, and that last weekend's Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal vote "poisoned" the lame duck session.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs announced earlier today that the Administration expects the treaty to pass, due in part to Senators like Brown willing to buck party leadership on the legislation.

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by Karen Weise, ProPublica

On Friday, Arizona and Nevada both filed suit against Bank of America, saying it deceived homeowners trying to avoid foreclosures. The suits allege that Bank of America knowingly misled homeowners in the loan modification process, regularly promising quick help when the process instead dragged out over months if not years, foreclosing on homeowners during the modification process despite promises that homeowners would be safe and making "false" promises to homeowners that their trial modifications would become permanent, among other complaints.

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There is a lot to see in this clip from The McLaughlin Group including a wildly colorful sports jacket worn by host John McLaughlin and an even more colorful commentary by conservative commentator Pat Buchanan as he established the arguments against repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell military policy. With most public figures championing repeal as a positive and historical civil rights moment, it's at least unique to hear the opposing view argued so passionately by Buchanan.

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Let's take a further look at the Citizens Council, the Civil Rights-era segregationist group that was recently praised by potential presidential candidate Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) -- for keeping order, he said, by deterring Ku Klux Klan activity during the civil rights movement.

Here is a Council newspaper from 1956, based in Jackson, Mississippi (which is roughly 40 miles from Barbour's hometown of Yazoo City). The paper includes such headlines as: "Christian Love And Segregation"; "Council Movement Spreads As Nation Reacts to Danger"; "Negroes Taking Over"; "Baptists Rap Mixing" (note: In 1950's American English, "rap" in this context meant to harshly criticize, similar to "blast" in a headline now); "Rape In Germany," warning of alleged rapes of German women by African-American soldiers; "Lady Veteran Raps Hospital Mixology"; and "Enemy Made Large Gains In 1955."

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An Alabama lobbyist who the government alleged bribed Alabama legislators to support a bill that would benefit the gambling industry will plead guilty and has worked out a deal with federal prosecutors, according to court documents.

Jarrod D. Massey will plead guilty to conspiracy to several counts (including federal programs bribery and aiding and abetting) for allegedly offering $200,000 dollars in campaign contributions, $1 million dollars for legislator's discretionary use, an undetermined amount in campaign contributions and $2 million in campaign support and services to legislators for their votes, according to a notice of intent to plead guilty filed by his lawyers on Monday. In exchange, federal prosecutors will recommend the honest services and fraud scheme charges against him be dismissed.

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For conservatives angry over the Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous decision last year to legalize gay marriage, getting three of the seven justices booted from the bench just isn't enough. Now, a handful of Republican lawmakers are now trying to impeach the remaining four.

The Iowa Independent reports that three freshmen members of the Iowa House are writing legislation to impeach those four justices. They're joined by a freshman state senator, Kent Sorenson, who will sit on the judiciary committee and who has called the fight against same sex marriage "my generation's defining moment."

Such a move would require a majority vote in the House, followed by a two-thirds majority in the Senate. It's unclear how much support there is for impeachment -- a punishment generally reserved for judges who've committed a crime or other serious misconduct.

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The Council of Conservative Citizens has launched a website calling for a boycott of the new Marvel comic-inspired film Thor, because a character is being played by a black actor.

The CCC is the contemporary incarnation of the segregationist Citizens Councils, which sprung up across the South in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education and which possible Republican presidential candidate Haley Barbour praised in a recent interview.

"It seems that Marvel Studios believes that white people should have nothing that is unique to themselves," a post on the CCC's website reads. "An upcoming movie, based on the comic book Thor, will give Norse mythology an insulting multi-cultural make-over. One of the Gods will be played by Hip Hop DJ Idris Elba."

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I just spoke with Dan Turner, the official spokesman for Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS), who responded in strong terms to criticism of Barbour's recent praise for the segregationist Citizens Council groups of the Civil Rights era.

"You're trying to paint the governor as a racist," he said. "And nothing could be further from the truth."

In a profile in the Weekly Standard, Barbour credited the groups -- which were founded in Mississippi in 1954, in protest of the Brown v. Board of Education decision that declared public school segregation to be unconstitutional -- with maintaining order in his hometown by deterring Ku Klux Klan activity.

The councils were dedicated to political activities opposing civil rights, notably boycotts of pro-civil rights individuals -- including a famous instance by the group in Barbour's town. It was distinguished from the Klan by the public self-identification of its members, and its image of suits and ties as opposed to white robes and nooses.

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