TPM News

by Marie C. Baca, ProPublica

Joseph Pettey is the owner of Pettey Oilfield Services Inc., and the 2003 Virginia Oil and Gas Festival Man of the Year. Thomas E. Stewart is a third-generation driller who lobbies the government on behalf of energy companies. Both sit on the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, which is increasingly positioning itself as an authority on drilling-related issues like hydraulic fracturing.

The 38-state commission was created in 1935 to promote the efficient harvesting of oil and gas. Its mission was later expanded to acknowledge the need to protect health, safety and the environment while accomplishing that goal. It is funded by government grants and fees from the states. The commission members are appointed by the member governors. Most are state regulators who oversee gas and oil drilling, but at least seven states have representatives who are either lobbyists or energy executives.

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Obama Predicts Tax Bill Passage, Possible Changes The Associated Press reports: "President Barack Obama is predicting congressional approval of the tax-cutting compromise he has reached with Republican leaders, but he's not ruling out that unhappy Democrats will make some changes in the mammoth legislation. In an interview with NPR released Friday, Obama said that despite a rebellion by many Democrats against his tax deal, it will pass because 'nobody -- Democrat or Republican -- wants to see people's paychecks smaller on Jan. 1 because Congress didn't act.'"

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will meet with former President Bill Clinton at 3 p.m. ET, in the Oval Office.

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If Don't Ask, Don't Tell isn't repealed this year, yesterday's hijinx in the Senate will be remembered only slightly more fondly by history than was Strom Thurmond's 24-hour filibuster of the Civil Rights Act in 1957.

Aaron Johnson, a 20-year-old St. Louis, MO resident, was charged this week with threatening to blow up an IRS facility. Federal prosecutors charge in an indictment that on April 14, Johnson called an IRS facility on South Grand in St. Louis.

The facility is described in an indictment as a records facility known as a "lockbox" which was being operated by an unnamed U.S. bank. Johnson allegedly called the telephone number associated with the lockbox and threatened to "blow up" the facility.

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The Republicans' midterm sweep in the House of Representatives doesn't just mean that John Boehner will become Speaker -- it means a drastic shift of leadership and legislative priorities throughout the whole chamber.

This week, House Republicans officially rolled out the list of committee chairs in the new Congress. And as can be expected, some of them are really interesting personalities. It is these individuals who will be holding hearings on legislation and oversight of the executive branch -- that is, attacking the Obama administration and trying to dig up scandals, as typically occurs during periods of divided government.

So let's take a look at several of the key GOPers who will be heading up these important House panels: Their backgrounds, their positions, their histories -- and a few gaffes, too.

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On the heels of FBI's arrest this week of a 21-year-old Baltimore man who converted to Islam and allegedly tried to set off a fake car bomb outside of a military recruitment center, Attorney General Eric Holder defended the federal government's undercover operations to prevent terror plots before they further develop.

"I think that we are on an appropriate course," Holder said at a news conference Thursday in response to a question from TPM. "I'm comfortable with the way that we've been conducting ourselves with regard to these investigations."

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Two men have been charged with assault and robbery as a hate crime after attacking a Muslim religious leader on a New York City subway platform.

According to prosecutors, the two men, Albert Melendez, 30, and Eddie Crespo, 28, spotted the unidentified imam on the A train in Manhattan at about 3 a.m. Wednesday morning.

"What are you, a camel jockey? I don't like Muslims," Melendez said, according to the criminal complaint.

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The St. Paul, Minn. city attorney will not press charges against Tom Hackbarth, a Republican state representative who was handcuffed by police last month after they found him lurking outside a Planned Parenthood with a gun strapped to his hip.

Hackbarth had told police that he didn't even know he was in the parking lot of a Planned Parenthood. Instead, he said, he was looking for a woman he had been on a few dates with who lived in the area and who, he said, had blown him off on a date that night.

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Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) has some tough words for President Barack Obama -- who this week reached across the aisle to strike a deal with Republicans over extending the Bush-era tax cuts -- calling him "politically immature."

How does he figure? "By using rhetoric that calls us 'hostage-takers,' he believes, somehow, that the Left will give him some credit for hating us, or putting us in a bad light. But it just lowers him," Graham told the National Journal Online. "He is whining, and no one likes a whining president. ... There is a lot of disappointment on our side. Quite frankly, this is going to be hard to forget."

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