TPM News

Conservative columnist Frank Gaffney claimed in a recent op-ed that FBI agent John Guandolo lost his job because he was too fiercely opposed to radical Islamic ideology, when in fact Guandolo resigned after sleeping with the key government witness in a major congressional corruption trial.

And in an e-mail exchange with TPMmuckraker, Gaffney is standing by the column, while providing no information to back up his claim.

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We told you last month that the political action committee behind the Tea Party Express (TPE) directed almost two thirds of its spending during a recent reporting period back to the Republican consulting firm - or entities associated with it -- that created the group in the first place.

But it's actually worse than that. It now appears the figure is over three quarters.

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The Massachusetts Senate candidates met Friday night for a very hard-hitting debate, with Republican candidate Scott Brown sending a very clear message: If he is elected to the Senate from this Democratic state, he will stop the health care bill by enabling the GOP to hold up cloture.

"As the 41st Senator, I can stop it," said Brown. "Not as an obstructionist, but to look at it in a different way, to make sure that we do it better."

Recent polling has given a mixed picture for the January 19 special election, a situation that is inherently difficult to poll. This weekend, Public Policy Polling (D) gave Brown a one-point edge, while the Boston Globe/University of New Hampshire gave Coakley a 15-point lead.

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Over the past few days, Republicans have been comparing Sen. Harry Reid's (D-NV) comments on President Obama's race to former Sen. Trent Lott's (R-MS) in 2002, saying Reid should step down from his role as Senate majority leader, as Lott did.

Today, Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, went a step further and said Reid's comments were actually worse than Lott's.

"Frankly, I don't expect Sen. Reid to resign. What this is about is his hypocrisy and the hypocrisy of folks on the other side when Trent Lott said something that was far more innocuous than the racially tinged comments that Sen. Reid made," Cornyn said this morning on MSNBC.

Video after the jump.

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Democrats will have to make significant progress this week toward reaching an agreement on the shape of House-Senate health care legislation if they hope to hand President Obama a bill to sign before his State of the Union speech, tentatively scheduled for early February.

And that means they'll have to reach a number of compromises on everything from the implementation date of major reforms, to the structure of insurance markets, to, most crucially, how to pay for near-universal health care.

The question of how to generate new revenue has split House and Senate Democrats and has driven a wedge between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the administration, which supports the Senate's plan: an excise tax on high-cost health care plans. For months, the White House's chief focus in the health care reform fight has been making sure the 60 members of the Senate Democratic caucus stay united behind the plan--and that means they're not giving Pelosi, who has greater margin for error and more control over her own caucus, much leeway to secure her priorities.

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White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said President Obama and the Senate Democrats have "100 percent, absolute confidence" in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid following the publication of old comments Reid made on Obama's race.

"What's important is not what was said a year ago, it's the challenges they are facing here today in the country," Emanuel said, appearing on the new MSNBC show "The Daily Rundown."

The defense of Reid comes after weekend revelations that the majority leader talked about Obama being "light-skinned" and not having a "Negro dialect" and his private support for Obama during the 2008 presidential primary.

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Carlos Allen, who allegedly attended November's state dinner at the White House without being on the guest list, showed what he said was an invitation but couldn't produce anything with his name on it today on Good Morning America.

"I was invited. I actually got an invitation in the mail. I have the actual invite," he said. Allen showed what he said was his official invitation, which did not have his name on it. He could not produce a seating card or anything else with his name on it.

Allen, who runs a magazine purportedly focused on philanthropy as well as a party venue out of a home in D.C., has maintained his innocence since being named as the third crasher. He allegedly tagged along with the official Indian delegation to the dinner, and had no contact with President Obama.

"I didn't want to embarrass anyone. I did not want to embarrass my president," he said today.

We'll have video shortly.

Gov. John Hoeven (R-ND) will officially kick off his campaign for Senate today, Politico reports, as the Republican frontrunner for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan.

Hoeven led Dorgan himself in the polls that had been done before Dorgan announced his retirement, though Hoeven was not actually in the race yet. With Hoeven's entry into the race, he is now the undeniable frontrunner, and the seat is at least a leaning pickup for the Republicans.

Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy, who is already elected statewide to North Dakota's only House seat, decided last week that he would not run. Other possible Democratic candidates are liberal talk show host Ed Schultz, who has been courted by the state Democrats, and former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, who lost the 2000 gubernatorial race to Hoeven.

It was a rough week for Tea Party Nation.

The group first accused MSNBC's Rachel Maddow of joining as a sort of liberal spy, and after TPMDC's coverage of the issue (and Maddow denial) the site seems to have gotten a flood of liberals engaged in apparently suspicious activity.

Organizers with Tea Party Nation, planning a convention in Nashville next month starring Sarah Palin, sent out an email blast late Friday detailing what they have seen, and noted they will "correct these problems."

"They have joined en masse, coming on the site to offend, disrupt and interfere as much as they can," organizers wrote. "They have uploaded inappropriate content, sent us obscene messages and even uploaded pornographic images."

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