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Mitt Romney, the frontrunner in the GOP presidential primary, has released the names of his top money men -- six lobbyists who have helped him raise a combined half a million dollars or $517,450 to be exact.

The sum is only a fraction of the $18 million Romney raked in during the April-to-June fundraising period, which outgunned his closest Republican rival so far, Tim Pawlenty, by a 9-to-1 margin. The list of six names provides a little sunlight about his political allies.

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On the heels of its fairly epic fundraising totals, the Obama campaign provided some more insight into where the Obama Victory fund got the $86 million it raised last quarter.

A good chunk of it came from bundlers, super-donors who are very rich, max out their personal fundraising amounts, and then call on their wealthy friends to do the same.

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Les Hinton, the CEO of Dow Jones and publisher of the Wall Street Journal, announced Friday that he is stepping down from his position, amid questions about his role in the News Of The World phone hacking scandal during his tenure as chief executive of News International.

Hinton ran News International, which publishes News Corp's U.K. newspapers, from 1995-2007, during which time reporters for News Of The World allegedly hacked into the phone records of murder victims, terrorism victims, and public officials.

In his resignation letter to Rupert Murdoch, Hinton denied any knowledge of the phone hacking during his tenure. "That I was ignorant of what apparently happened is irrelevant," Hinton wrote, "and in the circumstances I feel it is proper for me to resign from News Corp, and apologize to those hurt by the actions of the News of the World."

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Michele Bachman raised $4.2 million for her presidential bid over the last quarter, FEC filings show.

However, the numbers are partly carried over from her Congressional war chest: she transferred about $2 million. Bachmann, who is already on the air in Iowa, has been burning through her cash at a pretty quick rate as well, spending about $2.44 million. According to her campaign, she now has $3.6 million cash on hand.

Among the donors offering the maximum contribution: Koch Industries' Political Action Committee, who pledged $5,000 to her campaign. Koch PAC has also donated to Bachmann's own political action committee as well as her Congressional campaign.

Most contributions were small, however: according to the campaign, the average donor gave $48.00.

by Lois Beckett, ProPublica

This week, both the Los Angeles Times and The Nation put the spotlight on a little-known but influential conservative nonprofit that creates "model" state legislation that often make its way into law. The organization has helped craft some of the most controversial--and industry-friendly--legislation of recent years.

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Tim Pawlenty is touting his hard-line stance against raising the debt ceiling -- and he's calling out frontrunner Mitt Romney to speak up on the issue.

Friday afternoon, Pawlenty tweeted a link to an appearance on CNBC with Larry Kudlow, plus a challenge to Romney:

My thoughts on the debt ceiling What say you @MittRomney? Help us fight back.

Ah, but would he be able to say that to Romney's face?

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) took to the House floor on Friday to explain how a debt ceiling default would affect the country using the power of arts and crafts.

The Democratic lawmaker busted out a construction paper "GOP Wheel Of Misfortune" to explain how a failure to raise the debt ceiling would cut off Social Security checks for seniors, suspend pay for federal workers, and send interest rates soaring.

Watch below. The fun begins around 2:00 in.

Barring some unexpected and dramatic twist, come Monday the country will still be hurtling towards a potentially calamitous default on its national debt.

The only real development heading into the weekend was symbolic. Boehner agreed that the House will vote to raise the debt limit -- but only as part of a broader bill that would slash spending dramatically, institute a cap on federal expenditures, and call for a vote on a radical Constitutional amendment requiring balanced federal budgets and making tax increases functionally impossible. This plan is DOA in the Senate. But in transactional terms, it's meant to appease conservatives who probably won't vote to raise the debt limit under bipartisan circumstances.

Still, Congress has to actually raise the debt limit, and there are four possible avenues to getting that done on the table right now. Here's a description of each, in reverse order of likelihood.

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