TPM News

Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio kept a hidden database that shows that he used money designated for funding jails for other purposes, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors alleges.

The County Administration office learned that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office created a hidden database in 2002 which tracks the differences between where employees work and how employees are paid. "In many instances, it crosses different funding sources, thereby creating an inappropriate spending of restricted funds," the administration office said in a press release.

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G-20 Refuses To Back US Push On China's Currency The Associated Press reports: "Leaders of 20 major economies on Friday refused to back a U.S. push to make China boost its currency's value, keeping alive a dispute that raises fears of a global trade war amid criticism that cheap Chinese exports are costing American jobs. A joint statement issued by the leaders including President Barack Obama and China's Hu Jintao tried to recreate the unity that was evident when the Group of 20 rich and developing nations held its first summit two years ago during the global financial meltdown. But deep divisions, especially over the U.S.-China currency dispute, left G-20 officials negotiating all night to draft a watered-down statement for the leaders to endorse."

Obama Arrives In Japan For Second Economic Summit The Associated Press reports: "President Barack Obama has arrived in Japan to attend a regional economic summit. It is the fourth and final stop on the president's 10-day, four-country economic and goodwill tour of Asia. The president will spend Saturday and Sunday participating in meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. The group of 21 economies is taking steps to create a sprawling Pacific-wide free trade zone."

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Total opposition to earmarking is a key tea party tenet, and the battle to get Republicans to voluntarily ban it in their ranks is already raging. Establishment leaders like Minority Leader Mitch McConnell -- who favor earmarking for its time-honored electoral implications -- are clashing with pro-ban Senators led by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), the body's tea party hero.

Lining up behind DeMint in the push to end earmarks are Sens. Jim Coburn (R-OK), John Cornyn (R-TX), John Ensign (R-NV) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) -- along with Senators-elect Pat Toomey (R-PA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Ron Johnson (R-WI).

McConnell has reportedly been fighting behind the scenes to squash the proposed ban, and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) -- one of the Senate's most conservative members -- is publicly blasting his anti-earmark colleagues for hypocrisy.

Who wins the scrum could have broad implications in 2012.

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The campaign of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is publicly accusing her opponent, Republican nominee Joe Miller, of launching frivolous challenges against write-in ballots for the incumbent. And for its part, Team Miller simply maintains that they are trying to uphold the letter of the law, making sure any votes for Murkowski have her name written in properly.

But as the counting goes on, both media monitors and Murkowski poll watchers keep finding evidence that the Miller campaign might be interested in more than just the letter of the law.

Miller has maintained that the strict interpretation of the statute, requiring an exact spelling of Murkowski's name as it was written on her declaration of write-in candidacy, is the only standard by which votes for her should be counted. Initially, Miller pitched the idea that misspellings of Murkowski's name are not votes for her at all, but rather protest votes against her campaign to educate voters on how to spell her name for writing it in.

In an unsuccessful lawsuit to stop the vote-counting, his campaign argued against state officials using a more liberal voter-intent standard, which they say is backed up by case law, that would pardon some degree of spelling errors. Counters are simultaneously counting some challenged ballots while setting them aside for the spelling issue, in case the officials are reversed; in the mean time, Miller's camp is challenging any ballot they think they're entitled to -- even, it seems, some that many people would have trouble arguing about.

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President Obama has been studiously mum about the proposals laid out Wednesday by his fiscal commission's co-chairs, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. In fact, he urged critics of the report to hold their fire for now.

"Before anybody starts shooting down proposals, I think we need to listen, we need to gather up all the facts, I think we have to be straight with the American people," he said.

But would he be so blasé if he knew that the draft, as written, would require scrapping or destroying his signature health care law?

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Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh accused House Democratic leaders of racism today, for attempting to squeeze Jim Clyburn (the highest ranking African-American congressman in history) out of party leadership... only to then suggest that Clyburn would be a good fit for a new position as Nancy Pelosi's chauffeur.

"We've got the Democrats worried that Clyburn's getting the shaft because he's not going to have a car, he's not going to have a driver, he's not going to have security, he's not going to have any of the stroke, or the perks," Limbaugh said. "A white, racist leadership of the Democrat party trying to ace out Clyburn." Limbaugh got his information on Clyburn's driver from Martin Frost, who appeared on MSNBC.

If Clyburn loses his race to be Democratic whip, he'll either have to drop out of party leadership, or move into a lower-ranking leadership position, with fewer perks. Limbaugh claimed that this supposed avarice is what's animating Clyburn's fight to stay in leadership... and then noted that Clyburn could keep his car if he was willing to drive around the party's white leader.

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Former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, currently in prison for charges stemming from the bribes he confessed to accepting while in office, is presenting a new narrative to those who've been following his spiral into disgrace. Turns out, Cunningham now says, he wasn't bribed at all. At least not as much.

One of the men convicted of bribing Cunningham, former defense contractor Brent Wilkes, is attempting to reopen his case on the grounds that Cunningham now says the hundreds of thousands in money and stuff Wilkes was convicted of giving him was, in fact, not a bribe at all. In a pair of "declarations" Cunningham made in the past few weeks, the San Diego Union Tribune reports that former Republican congressman said the payments were just "gifts between longtime friends."

"This was not a bribe to me," Cunningham said, referring to a more than $500,000 payment Wilkes was convicted of offering Cunningham to help "pay off a mortgage for a $1.2 million mansion Cunningham purchased in Rancho Santa Fe."

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Another indicator of the changing of the guard in Washington came yesterday as dozens of representatives and leaders from conservative groups convened for a private meeting in the suburbs of Virginia. Representatives of a wide variety of Tea Party groups, mainstream conservative think tanks and right-wing media outlets came together to talk about the future of the conservative movement, TPMmuckraker has learned.

The agenda indicates that they attempted to hash out some of their priorities for the legislative agenda in the upcoming Congress, which will feature a GOP-controlled House for the first time in four years.

The hush-hush meeting was sponsored by the Conservative Action Project (CAP), an offshoot of the Council for National Policy.

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1||Veteran's Day Parade in Detroit, Michigan, November 8, 2008. ||flickr/cc/Wigwam Jones&&

2||U.S. Army Ssg. Jason Rasmussen, prepares to begin digging fighting positions at Observation Post Barracuda near Bala Murghab in Badghis Province, Afghanistan on May 25, 2010.||n87/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

3||Pompano Beach High School JROTC participant salutes the fallen heroes of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Wednesday, November 10, 2010. ||Joe Rimkus Jr./MCT/Newscom&&

4||U.S. soldiers who were liberated from German POW camps in spring 1945, upon arriving at an airstrip in France following their evacuation.||akg-images/Newscom&&

5||Isabella Peterson, right, and other kindergarten students sing ''You're a Grand Old Flag'' during the annual Veteran's Day Celebration at Gulfside Elementary in Holiday, Florida on November 10, 2010. ||s70/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

6||U.S. soldiers and infantrymen from the South Vietnamese military wait for an enemy attack from their position at the edge of a rice field.||akg-images/Newscom&&

7||American soldiers establish a machine-gun nest during the Meuse-Argonne offensive in World War I.||HANDOUT/Scripps Howard News Service/Newscom&&

8||U.S. soldiers returning from a deployment to Taji, Iraq, arrive at the Andrews Joint Base outside Washington D.C., on August 28, 2010.||Zhang Jun/Xinhua/Photoshot/Newscom&&

9||After replenishing their water and ammunition supply, soldiers from the 173rd U.S. Airborne troops continue their "Search and Destroy" patrol in the Phuoc Tuy province in 1966. ||akg-images/Newscom&&

10||Army reservist marchers in the 91st annual Veteran's Day Parade in New York on Wednesday, November 11, 2009.||RICHARD B. LEVINE/Newscom&&

11||U.S. soldiers from an African-American mortar unit of the 92nd Division aiming at German machine gun positions during the Battle of Massa, November 1944..||akg-images/Newscom&&

12||A soldier with some children in Afghanistan ||flickr/cc/Afghanistan Matters&&

13||President Wilson with British Field Marshal Sir John French, reviewing a parade of marines during a visit to England.||akg-images/Newscom&&

14||The Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. ||Pete Souza/KRT/Newscom&&

15||U.S. soldiers in Tikrit, Iraq in July 2009. ||cc3/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

16||Oklahoma Veteran's Day parade, November 7th, 2009. ||flickr/cc/pcol&&

17||The Marine Corps Memorial in Washington, D.C. ||Reed F W/Newscom&&