TPM News

Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) has fired his state Education Commissioner Bret Schundler, as a result of errors and misrepresentations from Schundler in a matter costing the state $400 million in federal "Race to the Top" money. At the same time, the firing has been arranged at Schundler's request in such a manner so that Schundler -- a former leading figure of the state GOP's right wing -- will be able to collect unemployment benefits.

The key detail is that Schundler preferred to be fired, rather than submit his resignation. "I asked if they would mind writing a termination letter, instead of a resignation letter, because I do have a mortgage to pay, and I do have a daughter who's just started college," Schundler said, the Star-Ledger reports. "And I, frankly, will need the unemployment insurance benefits until I find another job. ... And they said fine. They said sure."

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Sharron Angle is not disavowing statements she made last year, when she agreed that there are currently "domestic enemies" in Congress.

As Greg Sargent reported on Wednesday, a Democrat unearthed some audio of Angle on a radio show back in October 2009. A caller said: "We have domestic enemies. We have home-born homegrown enemies in our system. And I for one think we have some of those enemies in the walls of the Senate and the Congress."

To which Angle replied: "Yes. I think you're right, Bill."

Then yesterday, Angle appeared on the radio show of conservative talker Heidi Harris, who gave Angle the chance to clarify this notion. Angle didn't say yes -- but she didn't say no, either.

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In their newest case against the already-convicted 20-something Miami arms dealer Efraim Diveroli, the feds accused him this week of using a front company to hide his continuing involvement in the arms trade. But a closer look at Diveroli's recent dealings suggest that, even as he was awaiting sentencing on his initial conviction for selling the U.S. government poor-quality and illegal munitions for use in Afghanistan, Diveroli engaged in a series of transactions designed to obscure his involvement in companies involved in the arms business.

AEY, Inc., the business that Diveroli used a few years back to sell the U.S. Army out-of-date Eastern European munitions, is still around and is run out of Diveroli's upscale home in Miami Beach.

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Guess you can rule out the fantasy Palin-Brown ticket.

Even though she championed the shocking win of Sen. Scott Brown in January as "a step for taking our country back," Palin now seems to be calling him a RINO.

In an interview with Fox Business News that mostly focused on the Alaska Republican Senate primary, Palin railed on Republicans that go along with the "herd mentality" by supporting what she called the "Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda." The host asked, "Is Scott Brown on notice?"

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A speaking contract for Sarah Palin, released by California State University Stanislaus, shows that Palin was paid a $75,000 speaking fee, plus travel expenses, and required bottled water with bendy straws at the podium.

The school's charitable foundation was ordered by a judge to release the contract after the school was sued by a watchdog group for refusing to release it. CSU is a state school and, therefore, a public institution. The judge ruled that the school had violated open records laws.

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The Minnesota Republicans have announced a compromise of sorts with Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mark Dayton, who complained that video trackers were being disruptive and should clearly identify themselves: The GOP's trackers will now wear some snarky anti-Dayton shirts.

Last week, Dayton held a press conference at which he showed a video of GOP trackers standing, he thought, too close to him at a fair. Dayton said that passersby would think that the trackers were with him and blocking the way. "The tactic has changed and it's clearly one of harassing me and trying to provoke me and it's one of intimidating citizens so they can't have a conversation with me," Dayton said at the press conference.

In response, the GOP has unveiled new T-shirts that their trackers will wear -- with slogans such as "I'm with the guy who wants to raise your taxes," and "I'm with one of America's Worst Senators."

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The new Mason-Dixon poll of the Nevada Senate race shows Harry Reid with a one-point advantage, within the margin of error, against his Republican opponent Sharron Angle. Furthermore, Reid's constant attacks against Angle are working -- he is still unpopular, but now her voters don't actually like her, either.

The numbers: Reid 45%, Angle 44%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4% margin of error. In the previous Mason-Dixon poll from two weeks ago, Reid led by 46%-44%. The TPM Poll Average puts Reid ahead by 46.6%-43.7%.

Looking further in the poll, it becomes clear just how disliked both of these candidates have become, to the point where their own supporters wish they could have had different candidates.

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According to the Commerce Department this morning, the country's gross domestic product this spring grew at an anemic 1.6 percent. But that's just the latest in a series of indications that the economy isn't really improving. Forget mosques and immigration and health care reform -- they may split the country and bedevil Democrats politically, but it's the economy that's really to blame for all of it. The good news is, there are steps the government can take to improve the situation. The bad news is they're not gonna. And that's why Democrats are suffering.

"It's very difficult to envisage any significant policy response to current economic problems in the near term," said Mark Zandi, one of the nation's top economists, earlier this week.

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Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, who lost the Republican primary for governor on Tuesday in a huge upset to, is still refusing to endorse the man who defeated him for the nomination in a very bitter primary, the self-financing former health care executive Rick Scott.

As the Miami Herald reports, McCollum said he called Scott to "congratulate him and wish him well." But he's not making an endorsement as of now. "I still have serious questions about issues of his character, his integrity, his honestly -- things that go back to Columbia/HCA," said McCollum, referring to Scott's business that paid a record $1.7 billion fine after being investigated for Medicare fraud. "As other voters will do, I will judge him throughout this campaign."

Scott campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Baker was not impressed, and referred back to when McCollum lost the 2004 Senate primary, and took two weeks to endorse Mel Martinez: "It is unfortunate for Bill McCollum that he has chosen to be a sore loser just as he was following his defeat to Sen. Martinez in 2004."

The TPM Poll Average has Democratic nominee Alex Sink leading Scott by 38.8%-30.5%, plus 11.0% for independent Bud Chiles.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg continued his defense of the Cordoba House Islamic center near Ground Zero on The Daily Show last night, telling Jon Stewart that "there's nothing new" about the planned project. "The difference is we're in election season," Bloomberg said, "and this whole issue I think will go away after the next election."

He added: "This is plain and simple people trying to stir up things to get publicity, and trying to polarize people so that they can get some votes."

Stewart was glad that the Mayor was defending the Cordoba House, because "I would like to build a synagogue -- reform -- in St. Patrick's cathedral."

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