TPM News

Remember the BP "top hat"? It was one in a series of desperate attempts by the company to capture the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion last year. The top hat, mocked though it was, managed to capture and remove 679,000 barrels of oil from the crippled well, pumping it to nearby tankers.

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The House Ethics Committee is investigating Reps. Greg Meeks (D-NY) and Jean Schmidt (R-OH) on allegations that they violated House ethics rules.

The panel announced the probe Friday afternoon in a terse letter saying only that Reps. Jo Bonner (R-AL), the committee's chairman, and Linda Sanchez (D-CA), its ranking member, have "jointly decided to extend matters" regarding Meeks and Schmidt.

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A federal appeals court struck down Proposal 2 on Friday, a 2006 ballot initiative in Michigan that banned Affirmative Action in college admissions and government hiring.

In a 2-1 decision, the Appellate panel ruled that Prop 2 violated the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment. "The majority may not manipulate the channels of change in a manner that places unique burdens on issues of importance to racial minorities," Judges R. Guy Cole and Martha Craig Daughtrey wrote in the majority opinion.

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South Carolina Lt. Governor Ken Ard (R) has settled his 107 ethics violations with the State Ethics Commission, and agreed to pay a $48,400 fine, cover the cost of the investigation, and reimburse his campaign for $12,121 in illegal expenditures.

Among those expenditures, Corey Hutchins of the South Carolina Free Times reports, was Ard's wife's phone bill and more than $3000 at Best Buy for a "Playstation 3, a flat-screen TV, an iPod Touch 8G, and two 3G iPads." Ard initially claimed the purchases were "computer equip" for "campaign and office-related purposes."

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A Dane County judge has ruled against Wisconsin GOP state Rep. John Nygren's effort to get onto the ballot to challenge Democratic state Sen. Dave Hansen, after state election officials disqualified Nygren due to a lack of sufficient petition signatures. It leaves the GOP with only one other candidate in the race -- who brings some personal baggage.

As WisPolitics reports, Nygren has now announced that he will not further contest the decision, and as such is dropping out of the race. "While I disagree with the court's decision, I respect the process and will cease any further actions to appeal this decision," Nygren says. "It's unfortunate that my candidacy in this recall election has been determined by Democrat-appointed GAB staff that has constantly worked against me as I defended myself from the Democratic Party's frivolous challenges."

When he filed his petitions, Nygren only turned in 424 signatures, just over the 400 minimum. Candidates are allowed to turn in up to 800 signatures, twice the minimum, in order to have a buffer against signature disqualifications (and in nearly all cases, they do submit a significant buffer). After Democrats challenged errors and qualifications for some signatures at the state Government Accountability Board -- which oversees elections in the state -- he was busted down to 398, two short of the threshold, thus keeping him off the ballot.

Some perspective: Republicans were able to gather over 18,000 signatures to trigger a recall against Hansen (and even though some of them were fraudulent, this was still an accomplishment overall) -- yet did not make enough of an effort to get 400 signatures plus a decent-sized buffer for their preferred candidate.

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LiveWire