TPM News

The Justice Department suffered a major setback last week when a federal jury in Alabama tossed out most of the charges in a massive public corruption case involving casino interests allegedly bribing state senators to support a bill legalizing bingo in the state.

But federal prosecutors indicated Monday that they'll give it another go on the charges that weren't unanimously acquitted. A judge has scheduled a new trial for October.

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Tim Pawlenty's exit leaves behind a whole campaign's worth of free agents ready to be scooped up by the remaining candidates. And the process is already beginning: according to the New Hampshire Union Leader, Pawlenty's NH state director, Sarah Crawford Stewart, is joining up with Jon Huntsman.

"Governor Huntsman is committed to winning the New Hampshire primary, and I look forward to helping him and his team do just that," Stewart told the paper. "I viewed Gov. Huntsman as somebody with exceptional governing experience. And I viewed him as someone who would be the strongest competitor against President Obama in a general election."

Huntsman has yet to make much of an impact in the race despite his impressive credentials as a former governor of Utah and ambassador to China.

Congress may be out, but that doesn't mean President Obama can't score some political points from its inertia.

He's been doing that since the end of June, repeating at virtually each public appearance a mantra-like list of actions that Congress could do "right now" to help the economy.

The President was at it again Monday, speaking to an audience in Cannon Falls, Minnesota. Trade deals, rebuilding projects, red-tape slashing... President Obama said these were all things Congress could tackle "right now," or at the very least once it's back in session.

One item he included in that list is shaping up to be a key part of the White House's strategy in the coming months: the payroll tax holiday.

Contrary to conservative smears against the President as a tax-raising liberal, this is a tax break he is battling to keep in the face of Republican opposition.

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By John Voelcker

It's widely accepted in the auto industry that all manufacturers game the test cycles used to establish emissions and gas-mileage ratings. Ask auto engineers about the topic, and they tend to get a faraway look and go silent.

But the test cycles established in 1978 and used ever since are far from the reality of U.S. driving in 2011. This means the results have to be manipulated using various "adjustment factors" to have any semblance of real-world relevance.

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News Corp has allowed that the ongoing UK and US investigations into the News Of The World phone hacking scandal might just hurt its reputation and business interests.

"It is also possible that these proceedings could damage our reputation and might impair our ability to conduct our business," the company said its annual report, filed to the SEC on Monday.

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry is kicking off his presidential campaign with a bit of creative spin on S&P's downgrade of the U.S. credit rating: turns out President Obama did it.

In his first and bio-heavy campaign video of his presidential campaign, Perry places the blame for the downgrade squarely on the shoulders of Obama. This comes despite the fact that S&P itself says the slew of congressional Republicans who were (at best) apathetic about default were responsible for the rating agency's controversial decision.

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Former President Bill Clinton spoke Monday morning to the International Association of Fire Fighters conference in Manhattan, The New York Observer's PolitickerNY reports -- and he had some tough words for the newest entrant into the GOP race for president, Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

"I got tickled by watching Governor Perry announce for governor, for president," Clinton said -- perhaps stumbling a bit in the wind-up of a joke. "He's a good looking rascal."

The former president elaborated: "And he's saying 'Oh, I'm going to Washington to make sure that the federal government stays as far away from you as possible -- while I ride on Air Force One and that Marine One helicopter and go to Camp David and travel around the world and have a good time.' I mean, this is crazy."

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Since Barack Obama first came to office with plans to reform the country's healthcare system, conservative critics have derogatorily branded his policies as "Obamacare."

Speaking today in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, the President pushed back by embracing the term.

"I have no problem with folks saying 'Obama cares'," he told the crowd. "I do care."

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Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser was able to raise very large amounts of money during the recount that followed his very close re-election victory this past spring, the Wisconsin State Journal reports. And what's more, one of his key lawyers from that contest has pending business before the court.

Due to quirk of state election laws, the candidates were able to raise unlimited donations from individuals for the recount. Prosser raised over $270,000 in all, though in fact he still has some debt to pay off. (The largest donations were $50,000 each from Pennisylvania conservative activist John Templeton Jr., and his wife.)

None of the big donors have any cases pending before the court -- but if they do come to the court in the future, Prosser would not be required to recuse himself. In a contentious case in 2009, the court's 4-3 conservative majority adopted ethics rules stating that campaign contributions alone are not enough to force a judge from a case.

More interesting, though, is that Prosser's bills included $75,000 to the law firm headed up by Prosser's recount lawyer Jim Troupis -- who does have a case pending before the court, challenging state regulations of political speech, which will be argued on September 16. And for that case, Prosser will not be recusing himself.

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