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I've spent the morning talking to the heads of various limousine services in the D.C. area. They had all read the Post article about Christopher Baker and Shirlington Limousine, but no one seemed to know the guy well -- or they didn't want to talk about him.

"I only knew him vaguely," Cliff Powell of Mahogany Limo told me. "He's in big trouble now, isn't he?"

Paul Rodberg, the current president of the Washington Metropolitan Limousine Association said Baker was not a member of his group; the previous president, Reggie Tymus, who started his term in 2001, said the same.

"I knew he had financial troubles," said Rodberg, who's also president of Reliable Limousine. Other than that, he said, "I don't know anything about it."

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Two of Jack Abramoff's tribal clients gave money to the New Hampshire Republican State Committee shortly before Election Day in 2002. And as I reported last month, one of those contributions, a $10,000 check from the Mississippi Choctaw, was misreported as $5,000.

The Senate Majority Project has filed a complaint with the FEC today arguing that the NHRSC deliberately misreported the true amount of the contribution. Why? Well, $5,000 was the legal limit for the Choctaw to contribute that year. And beyond that, the NHRSC waited until just before the election to cash the check (October 29), despite having received it much earlier (it's dated October 10) - a crafty move that allowed them to defer reporting the contributions until after the election. That way no one would know on Election Day that casinos thousands of miles away were inexplicably pumping money into the party.

And as they note, there were some pretty fishy things happening around Election Day in New Hampshire that year.

Check it out.

Ah, another day, another ethics complaint. This one's against Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), anti-environmentalist, Abramoff chum, and DeLay sidekick.

You can read the complaints (there's an IRS one too) at CREW, or, if you prefer, you can see some of the same allegations at this site with the added bonus of a little Pombo doing the mambo.

Poor Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL). She's got enemies all around her -- her former staffers, former advisers to her Senate campaign, even her own Republican party.

Now, they seem to be conspiring to bring her down with leaks. In a way, it's almost noble that the party will smear its friends as easily as it would smear an opponent. In Harris' case they're even gentlemanly about it -- her former campaign strategist Ed Rollins has now gone on the record twice to share derogatory information about her.

This time, he backs up two former staffers who tell the Orlando Sentinel she made an earmark for Mitchell Wade's MZM, Inc. "a priority," overruling their objections to it. Before Wade found himself singing like a canary to federal investigators, he was busy helping to procure hookers, spreading cash around Capitol Hill, and taking Harris to a $2,800 dinner, all apparent efforts to win fat government contracts. Rollins told Harris he thought her dealings looked bad -- and now he's telling you:

"I said, 'Duke Cunningham got cash from Wade, and in your case he's promising to raise money,'" said Rollins. . . "I told her, 'This is how it's going to look.'"

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New Leak In Valerie Plame Case: She's Writing a Book

Former CIA undercover agent Valerie Plame, whose identity was exposed in a series of conversations with White House officials, was the victim of another leak, this time from the New York publishing world. Two anonymous sources confirmed to the New York Times that Plame has been shopping a book proposal around town. (NYT)

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GOP super-strategist Ed Rollins (late of the Katherine Harris campaign) made a couple interesting comments on Charlie Rose last night. First, he indicated strongly that he believes a number of the other lawmakers in trouble with Hookergate are Defense appropriators. He also says as many as 15 lawmakers could get indicted over the mess in the next few months.

Maybe Ed's playing the expectations game: if voters buy the 15 number, and only seven actually get busted, well then the kids aren't so bad after all. Still, it's interesting speculation from an insider. I just found the show transcript on Nexis -- emphasis is mine:

ED ROLLINS. . . If this House scandal is as big as I think it is from talking to people that are around it -- of course it started with Cunningham and it`s moving beyond that.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Duke Cunningham.

ED ROLLINS: Duke Cunningham, a congressman from San Diego who took bribes. There was a real little cabal on the Defense Appropriations Committee in which a couple of people who basically made an awful lot of money off of defense contractors and basically rewarded a bunch of members, Republicans.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Including a story that broke over the weekend, perhaps the use of prostitutes.

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TPMm Reader BS writes about receiving less-than-Cunningham-level service from Brent Wilkes' favorite limo company on the night of his senior prom:

I have some personal experience with Shirlington Limo which fits in nicely with the picture we have now. Just by way of background I'm a long time Northern VA resident just out of college.

We (myself and about 7 others) made the unforunate mistake in June of 2000 of hiring Shirlington to provide us with a limo for prom night. It was the last minute so our choices were either Shirlington Limo for a fee that seemed reasonable, or a Stretch Navigator from another company which, of course, was way too much expensive despite us all being "upper middle class".

Anyway, they took a $100 deposit and wanted me to fax the iterary, no problem. Prom night rolls around, the guy is at least 30 minutes late, and because it is prom night and reservations were made at a fancy restaurant this wasn't the greatest of news. Then the driver informed us that the deposit we made was essentially meaningless. He needed a cash payment and told me that I would have to take up the issue of the deposit w/ Shirlington. After finally getting on the road, 30 minutes late, the driver asked us very nicely that "if we get pulled over could you guys say I picked you up at Clyde's in Georgetown or something". The driver that Shirlington had sent over was not even legally allowed to pick up anyone in Virginia (imagine my shock). Based on my experience Shirlington Limo sounds exactly like the type of company I want to entrust with a contract to shuttle around some of our nations most important officials (and prositutes).


Sounds like it was a pretty rough night. But I talked to BS and his dad, and it sounds like they've gotten over it.

My quest for a complimentary Shirlington Limo Company pen has intensified.

Shirlington's most recent business filing says its principal office is located at 425 8th St. NW, as well as 717 D St. NW. (The airport is actually the listed address for company owner Christopher Baker. We're not the first to note this guy claims many locations.) So this afternoon I stopped by both.

I didn't have much luck at the airport; my bad luck held at the downtown offices.

On paper, the 8th St. address looked familiar. Arriving at the building, I realized why: I used to date a woman who lived there. It's not an office building at all, it's a luxury rental high-rise called the Lansburgh. It features a heated indoor pool, a virtual golf room, two exercise rooms, a very nice spa -- in an unguarded moment, I once confessed to a friend I wasn't sure if I was dating the woman or her building amenities.

It was also once home to former Attorney General Janet Reno. Condoleezza Rice is rumored to have stayed there as well.

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The vote just ended: 217-213, with 8 Democrats voting for it, and 20 Republicans against.

Who are those 8 Dems? Maybe we can buy them a nice meal?

Update: Here's the tally. More on the bill here.

The Dems who voted for the bill are:

Rep. John Barrow (D-GA) Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK) Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA) Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) Rep. Jim Marshall (D-GA) Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA) Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS)

Later Update: Here's CREW's Executive Director Melanie Sloan on passage of the bill:

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As Josh mentioned yesterday, Shirlington Limousine had quite a sketchy history (even excluding the prostitutes) to be receiving a $21 million contract with the Department of Homeland Security.

Well, here's one more bit of sketch to add to the mix.

On two different occasions, Shirlington had its federal license, called the motor passenger common carrier authority, revoked by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. It was first revoked on September 11, 2000 and reinstated April 4, 2001, and then again revoked June 13, 2005 and reinstated October 31, 2005.

What does that mean? Basically it means that they weren't allowed to cross state lines during those periods.

But it's a little more complicated than that, so I talked to Ian Grossman of the FMCSA. To get all bureaucratic on you, a carrier without that authority cannot carry passengers outside of their "commercial zone." In the case of Washington, D.C., the zone extends 15 miles in all directions beyond D.C.. It also includes Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties, as well as the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park in Virginia.

Phew.

Here's what this adds up to. Shirlington got their wings clipped (or tires slashed - choose your metaphor) in April, 2005, just prior to winning that huge DHS contract in October of 2005.

So during the months when DHS would have presumably been evaluating Shirlington's fitness to ferry senior officials around, their cars couldn't take passengers far outside D.C. You'd think that would be a problem if a DHS official needed to be taken to Baltimore-Washington International Airport for example.

This was the best company DHS could find?

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