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It looks like Veco plays favorites. Since 1993 the oil services company tangled in several of the Alaska corruption investigations has given Rep. Don Young (R-AK) more than two and a half times what it's donated to Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), the AP reports.

Young's raked in $180,630, while Stevens has only pocketed $70,500 (but that presumably doesn't include other perks like Veco employees remodeling his house or parking cars at his fundraisers.) Young and Stevens are both under federal investigation for their ties to the corporation. The FBI is particularly interested in the annual pig roast former Veco CEO Bill Allen would host for Young.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski has only pulled in a pittance ($41,250), but she's only been in Congress since late 2002, when her father bequeathed his seat to her to become governor of Alaska.

A statement just out from Sens. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) after their opposition to Hans von Spakovsky's nomination scuttled a deal to move von Spakovsky quickly through the Senate:

“While at the Department of Justice, Hans von Spakovsky was directly involved in efforts to politicize the Department and use the Voting Rights Section to disenfranchise voters, rather than enforce our nation’s civil rights laws. As a recess appointee to the FEC he has been a committed, ideological opponent of the campaign finance laws he is supposed to enforce. Putting him at the head of the FEC is just another example of this administration putting the fox in charge of the hen house. We oppose his nomination, and any effort to tie his nomination to the other pending nominations to the FEC.”

Another day, another resignation.

This time, it's Scott Jennings, who worked under Karl Rove in the White House.

Jennings, among other things, was a frequent contact concerning the U.S. attorney firings for Justice Department aides Kyle Sampson and Monica Goodling in the White House. The other Rove aide involved in the firings, Sara Taylor, left the White House earlier this year. When he was subpoenaed to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he refused to discuss the firings (or even discuss his role in appointing U.S. attorneys in general), citing executive privilege.

But we'll remember Jennings most of all for his remarkably effective parroting of the White House talking points about the political briefings Jennings gave at various department and agencies. Jennings, remember, gave the most infamous of those briefings, at the General Services Administration. After Jennings had finished his rundown of which GOP candidates were in trouble of losing reelection, GSA chief Lurita Doan asked aloud how GSA projects could be used to help "our candidates." Jennings reportedly replied that the top would be better discussed "off-line."

So in appreciation for Jennings' service, here's last months' TPMtv episode on the subject, complete with Jennings' and Taylor's mind-wracking message discipline:

This didn't get Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson in trouble:

"Why should I reward someone who doesn't like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don't get the contract. That's the way I believe."


But maybe these words will: "I don't touch contracts." That's what Jackson told Congress last May to convince lawmakers that he'd never do something so outrageous as award a contract based on whether the contractor was a Republican.

But there's a problem with that, reports the National Journal -- it appears that Jackson did, in fact, touch at least one contract, and one for a friend of his. And the FBI is investigating:

Donohue's investigators are now working with the FBI, a federal grand jury in Washington, and prosecutors from the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section....

Investigators are exploring whether Jackson, despite that testimony, had actually lined up a contract at the HUD-controlled Housing Authority of New Orleans, or HANO, for a golfing buddy and social friend from Hilton Head Island, S.C. The friend, William Hairston, was paid more than $485,000 for working at HANO during an 18-month period, according to figures provided by HUD and a former HANO official. The work was not competitively bid.

In an interview, Hairston, a stucco contractor, said that Jackson had indeed helped him land the job at HANO. He said that the New Orleans housing agency, which HUD manages under receivership, was struggling to repair and rehab its housing units in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and needed a construction manager. "The secretary asked me if I would go to New Orleans and help them out," Hairston told National Journal.

Yesterday the AP reported that U.S. troops in Iraq confiscated an AP cameraman's videotape of the aftermath of a Baghdad bombing. A military spokesman, Lt. Colonel Scott Bleichwehl, explained that the troops were enforcing an Iraqi law prohibiting the photographing or videotaping the aftermath of acts of violence. That seemed strange -- U.S. troops enforcing Iraqi law?

So yesterday I asked U.S. military representatives in Baghdad about the confiscation, the alleged law, and the use of U.S. troops as law enforcement for a foreign country. A spokesman replied to me that he knew of no agreement or arrangement "that would compel [U.S. forces] to enforce Iraqi law." A spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy declined to comment on the matter at all -- even to confirm the existence of such an Iraqi media law -- and instead referred me back to the military. Making matters even stranger, my interlocutor in the military told me that a colleague "checked with the unit who responded to the scene of the attack... and they reported that there was no video tape confiscated" by U.S. troops. I was unable to learn the identity of the unit.

When I asked AP for clarification about what happened, AP representatives e-mailed me this just-updated story . Apparently U.S. troops detained the cameraman -- after first denying that they even had the videotape:

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It's a prime example of the lawlessness in Iraq. The details are sketchy and disputed, but here they are: An Iraqi corruption judge, continually thwarted in his pursuit of justice, finally helps convict a high-ranking official. But then the official breaks out of jail. Or, rather, the official is helped out of jail by guards working for one defense contractor, but is then returned -- only to leave jail with the help of another. Allegedly.

Testimony today from Iraqi corruption judge Radhi Hamza al-Radhi touched on the conviction of Ayham al-Samarrai, the former Iraqi electricity minister. al-Radhi helped put al-Samarrai away for what the judge called "wasting" public funds. al-Samarrai is the highest-ranking official to be convicted of corruption in Iraq.

His name may be familiar to Blackwater watchers. Last month, an Iraqi defense official told McClatchy's Leila Fadel that Blackwater helped break al-Samarrai out of prison in the Green Zone last December. Today, however, al-Radhi suggested that the defense official was wrong. A rival private-security company, DynCorp, assisted al-Samarrai's prison break, al-Radhi said.

But DynCorp says it's a huge misunderstanding. "It's absolutely untrue," says spokesman Gregory Lagana. "We are absolutely 100 percent convinced it wasn't us." However, Lagana says, he knows why al-Radhi thinks DynCorp was behind it. Two DynCorp employees, one named George Dillman and another whom Lagana didn't recall, were stationed in Iraq to assist in training Iraqi policemen. Among the police stations the two were detailed to was the Green Zone station where al-Samarrai was detained. In October, al-Samarrai, who holds dual U.S.-Iraqi citizenship, told the DynCorp employees that he would be murdered if he was convicted.

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House Transportation Committee ranking member Rep. John Mica (R-FL) said no one who works for him was involved in the infamous change to Rep. Don Young's (R-AK) Coconut Road earmark in the highway bill of 2005. Young chaired the committee back then, so the main culprit for the change (made after the bill passed both houses of Congress) has been one of his staffers.

The Hill reports that Mica queried his staff and believes that if a Republican Transportation staff member was involved, he/she no longer works for the committee:

[Mica] also said he was so concerned about how the earmark was inserted that he asked his entire Transportation Committee staff whether any of them had anything to do it.

“If they had, I would have fired them,” Mica remarked, noting that none were involved.

Many of the aides had remained on the committee after Young stepped down as chairman when Democrats assumed the majority in January.

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Rep. David Price's (D-NC) bill putting private-security companies' activities overseas under U.S. civilian law has passed the House:

The House passed a bill on Wednesday that would make all private contractors working in Iraq and other combat zones subject to prosecution by U.S. courts. It was the first major legislation of its kind to pass since a deadly shootout last month involving Blackwater employees.

Democrats called the 389-30 vote an indictment in connection with a shooting incident there that left 11 Iraqis dead. Senate Democratic leaders said they planned to follow suit with similar legislation and send a bill to President Bush as soon as possible.

"There is simply no excuse for the de facto legal immunity for tens of thousands of individuals working in countries" on behalf of the United States, said Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas.

From Roll Call (sub. req.):

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Wednesday derailed a plan blessed by Senate leaders to vote on controversial Federal Election Commission White House nominee Hans von Spakovsky, a move giving Democrats time to breathe in the ongoing Senate stalemate on FEC nominees.

According to Democratic Senate aides, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) struck a deal mid-week to hotline four FEC slots that must be confirmed by the Senate before next year. As part of the proposed deal, a voice vote on fellow commission nominees only would take place if no Senators objected to von Spakovsky's nomination.

But a vote on the deal, which was expected to come to the floor as early as today, appeared to be off by mid-day Wednesday after Obama -- and unconfirmed others -- voiced concerns that von Spakovsky's nomination was too controversial not to go through regular floor proceedings.

A Democratic aide said Senate offices continue to explore "concerns with Mr. von Spakovsky, if they rise to the level of other objections, as well as where the caucus lies."


Obama earlier called von Spakovsky an "unacceptable nominee." For a rundown for why Dems would find von Spakovsky so objectionable, see here and here.

Rick Hasen has more on where things might go from here over at the Election Law Blog.

Classy guy, that Rep. John Mica (R-FL). Hearing about how Radhi Hamza al-Radhi's investigators have been tortured and murdered by militias affiliated with Iraqi political parties -- including the prime minister's -- Mica kept his eye squarely on the real target: Bill Clinton. Mica read out a list of what he described as the Clinton administration's misdeeds -- officials under indictment; officials who fled the country rather than testify; and, of course, impeachment -- to make the point, he said, that "no administration is left without corruption."

It's a responsible comparison. After all, Bill Clinton hung his opponents up on meat hooks, tortured them with power drills and sent Democratic Party-affiliated armed bandits to steal oil revenue in order to finance their illicit activities.

It was too much for Radhi, who, through translation, reminded Mica of the billions of dollars stolen by the Iraqi government and asked, "don't you think it deserves follow up and attention?"

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