TPM News

One of the abiding mysteries of the American Private Police Force story is who, if anyone, provided the financial backing the private security company claims to have.

As the project unravels and more of APPF's claims are shown to be dubious, it seems like the key question is not who the parent company is, but: does it actually exist?

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In a heated and sometimes vitriolic debate Monday night, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) repeatedly called out former Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey for lying about health care reform. He said debating her was like "debating a pyromaniac in a straw man factory," prompting intense and immediate reaction from the audience.

"Debate like a man!" hollered one bespectacled, middle-aged man. Another quieted the ensuing shouts with, "This is his speaking time, not yours!"

Weiner and McCaughey arguably represent the furthest ends of the health care reform spectrum. Weiner is a progressive Congressman who wants a single-payer, government run health care system. McCaughey, who recently posited that reform may lead to government-mandated euthanasia, helped kill the Clintons' health care plan in the 90s.

The "Lincoln-Douglas-style debate," hosted by Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century and held at the NYU Medical Center, lasted nearly two hours. For much of that, the pair seemed engaged in two entirely different debates.

Weiner argued that the only way to truly fix American health care, both slowing the growth of health care spending and increasing coverage, is to institute a single-payer, government-run plan.

McCaughey said slowing the growth of health care spending is itself a wrong-headed, dangerous goal that will end in lower quality care and unemployed doctors.

And besides, who needs it?

"Americans spend more on health care because they can afford more," she said.

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CNN's Dana Bash and producer Ted Barrett waited outside embattled Sen. John Ensign's (R-NV) office in Washington today and asked him about a New York Times report that he flouted a lobbying ban by directing his staff to have contact with Doug Hampton -- his former mistress's husband -- in regard to Hampton's lobbying work. Ensign also tried to help get Hampton a job after the affair had been discovered. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) confirmed on Sunday that the Senate Ethics Committee, which she chairs, has begun "a preliminary investigation" of Ensign.

Confronted by the CNN team today, Ensign denied that he'd violated ethics rules.

"You can just see our statements on that," he said. "I think it's pretty clear. I said in the past I recommended him for jobs, just like I recommended a lot of people. But we absolutely did nothing except for comply exactly with what the ethics laws and the ethics rules of the Senate state. We were very careful."

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The news that Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) will be running for Vice President Joe Biden's former Senate seat in 2010 not only represents a decent pickup opportunity for Senate Republicans -- it has also created a very good shot for the Democrats to pick up the open House seat.

Castle himself was always secure in the House seat for as long as he wanted it, and he won re-election with 61% of the vote in 2008, at the same time as the Obama-Biden ticket carried the state with 65%.

But in terms of Delaware politics overall, this has become a very Democratic state, having voted Dem for president in every election since 1992, and also for Democratic governors in all the elections since then, as well. Democrats already have a candidate in the race, former Lt. Governor John Carney, who narrowly lost the primary for governor last year.

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NC Gov. Beverly Perdue says her failure to sign a letter last week calling on Congress and the White House to pass health care reform isn't a sign of how tough the landscape for reform has become for her fellow Democrats. It simply means she was too busy on a trip to NYC to deal with outgoing mail.

Perdue spokesperson Chrissy Pearson told the Raleigh News & Observer that Perdue "agrees with the points made in the letter," but said the governor did not have enough time in her busy day to sign it:

"She didn't feel she had enough time to give it due consideration," Pearson said. "Her focus that day was the trip to New York City. It was a very grueling schedule."


"She did not sign it but wants to make it clear that she remains committed to working with the Obama administration on health care reform," Pearson said. "She has continued the dialogue that began a few months ago whenever the White House asked North Carolina to host one of their forums on health care reform and she continues to remain concerned about the fact that while she believes reform is needed, such reform should not place an undue financial burden on the state."

By all measures, this is shaping up to be a good week for Jon Corzine. He's up in the polls (albeit very slightly) for the first time all cycle, Chris Cristie's campaign promises are falling flat and the head of the DGA over the weekend that his money's on Corzine taking the win in November.

But a part of any Corzine victory strategy requires independent candidate Chris Daggett to take a big bite out of the moderate and anti-Corzine that might otherwise go to Christie. Some observers say Corzine needs Daggett to pull as much as 10% of voters on Nov. 3 to secure reelection over Christie. New talk about Daggett's location on the ballot does not bode well for Corzine supporters hoping for big (but not too big) Daggett numbers.

Though he's the only one to share a debate stage with Corzine and Christie, Daggett is actually just one of 10 non-major party candidates in the race. Under NJ law, that means for most voters he'll be hard to find on the ballot. State law dictates that major party candidates be guaranteed the first two slots on the ballot, while third party candidates and independents have their ballot placement determined by lot.

The Press Of Atlantic City reports:

In two of the key southern New Jersey counties, Atlantic and Ocean, Daggett received the last-possible placement among the columns. Don't even run your index finger along the same line as Corzine and Christie - Daggett is tucked a row below.

The story is the same across New Jersey. Voters interested in voting against the unpopular Corzine may step into the voting booth to find their only visible option to be Christie. So it could be the law designed to keep major party candidates front and center could end up being the Democrat's undoing.

A Hardin, Montana official who has been the public face of the town's controversial prison contract with American Private Police Force (APPF) is now expressing serious concerns about the deal.

Yesterday, Al Peterson of the Two Rivers Authority (TRA), the city's economic development agency, sent an email to Michael Hilton of APPF and to the TRA's board members, declaring:

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Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, the Republican nominee for Governor of New Jersey, was just attacked this morning by MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, for being afraid to come on Morning Joe.

Scarborough, who is himself a former Republican Congressman from Florida, was interviewing Christie's rival, Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine today.

"And by the way, we always get flooded with e-mails, whenever we have the Governor on -- why don't we have Chris Christie on? The answer's very simple: 'cause he won't come on," said Scarborough. "We've asked him, and we ask you again, Christie. I don't know -- I mean, my God, if you can't handle us, you can't handle Mike Barnicle, you sure as Hell can't handle the state of New Jersey."

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) criticized Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal on Charlie Rose last night for going public in London last week with his assessment of the war in Afghanistan -- which he believes requires tens of thousands of additional U.S. troops for victory.

"Let me say this about Gen. McChrystal, with all due respect," Pelosi said. "His recommendation to the President should go up the line of command. They shouldn't be in press conferences."

"That's not where this debate takes place," Pelosi added.

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Sheila Johnson, a supporter of Republican candidate Bob McDonnell in the Virginia Senate race, has apologized for making fun of Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds for stuttering.

"Two weeks ago I made reference to Creigh Deeds's inability to clearly communicate effective solutions to the serious problems facing Virginia," Johnson said yesterday evening in a statement sent to the Politico. "I shouldn't have done it in the manner in which I did and for that I apologize for any offense he, or others, may have taken."

Initially, the McDonnell campaign did not apologize, but had released a statement saying in part: "Creigh Deeds has never had a problem voicing his false attacks about Bob McDonnell. What he has had difficulty expressing is any positive vision for Virginia's future. Democratic businesswoman Sheila Johnson was noting that fact."