TPM News

The House Office of Congressional Ethics investigation into eight lawmakers is focusing on fundraisers held in the two days before the final vote on financial reform legislation, according to news reports.

According to The Hill, the OCE is specifically looking into a fundraiser held for Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) two days before he pulled an amendment that could have hurt certain auto dealers.

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Democrats are asking House Minority Leader John Boehner to put his money (or at least his signature) where his mouth is. Boehner took to the Sunday shows this weekend to say he supports forcing BP to pay for the full cost of damages in the Gulf, but has been largely mum on how, legislatively, he proposes to do that. Now, Reps. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Jay Inslee (D-WA), authors of a bill that would retroactively and permanently remove the $75 million liability cap on BP and other oil companies, are inviting him to join their efforts

In a letter delivered to Boehner today, which was passed my way, Holt and Inslee question Boehner's commitment to forcing BP to pay up, and suggest a way for him to clear the air. "[W]e ask that you personally state whether you will lead your caucus in supporting legislation to amend the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to require BP to pay, in a timely manner, for all containment and removal efforts and reasonable damages resulting from this disaster."

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BP has agreed to place about $20 billion in an escrow account to be used to pay damage claims resulting from the Gulf Coast oil spill, The New York Times is reporting.

CNN and the AP have also confirmed the deal.

The Times is also reporting that the fund will be overseen by Kenneth Feinberg -- the pay czar charged with overseeing top Wall Street salaries under TARP. Feinberg also oversaw the 9/11 victims compensation fund.

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The Republican National Committee is knocking President Obama today for waiting 58 days since the Gulf Coast oil spill began to meet with BP executives -- during which time he went golfing a half dozen times.

The RNC's new web video -- called "What Took So Long?" -- flips through Obama's non-oil spill calendar items of the last two months, and shows pictures of him with Paul McCartney and Bono, raising money for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), going on a family vacation, meeting with the New York Yankees, and, of course, playing golf. According to the RNC, Obama was off having a grand time while the Gulf suffered.

The video also resurrects James Carville's now-famous declaration that "we're about to die down here" in the Gulf. Matt Lauer's question on why Obama didn't pick up the phone and call BP is played on a loop. And there are oily birds.

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Are Republicans in Washington sweating the fact that Nevada Senate hopeful Sharron Angle used to be a member of the far right Independent America party? Not for the moment--or at least not while Angle's sequestering herself from the press.

Yesterday evening I asked John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, what he makes of her 1990s-era membership in the party and what bearing it will have on her campaign.

"I don't think it makes much difference because we've had--a lot of famous Republicans used to be in different parties. Ronald Reagan. In Texas, Phil Gramm and our governor, Rick Perry, so I don't think that makes any difference," Cornyn said.

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It's no accident or coincidence that Republicans in Washington are trying to shield Senate candidates Rand Paul and Sharron Angle from the national, and even local, press.

Remember the GOP establishment didn't want these far-right, insurgent candidates in the first place, and now Republicans fear that in the year of the tea party, Paul and Angle could become the face of the party for the midterm elections. That could present an image to voters that screams radical more than it does electable.

Each time Paul or Angle stray from party talking points by promoting Social Security privatization, abolishing the Department of Education or backtracking on the Civil Rights Act, more moderate Republican candidates have to field questions about whether they agree on those issues. And every day that the Republicans are having to defend themselves against those questions is a day they lose, rather than focusing it on the economy, Obama, and the Democrats' agenda.

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Meg Whitman has pumped an additional $20 million of her own money into her California gubernatorial campaign, according to a new filing this week. The former eBay CEO has now contributed $91 million of her own money to the campaign, $71 million of which came during the primary.

Whitman beat state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner in the June 8 Republican primary. Now she faces former California Attorney General (and former Governor) Jerry Brown in the general election.

The TPM Poll Average shows Brown leading Whitman 45.2% to 41.0%.

Things just went from bad to worse for Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum (R). He's currently locked in a surprise gubernatorial primary with former hospital exec Rick Scott -- a battle he's losing to Scott's sizable fortune and willingness to spend it on TV ads -- and now, the local media is starting to suggest McCollum might be done.

From this morning's St. Petersburg Times:

It is a stunning shift for a seasoned politician who seemed to have a lock on the race just two months ago...Supporters fault McCollum's TV message, his inability to connect with an angry electorate, fundraising shortcomings and a dated campaign style, emphasizing endorsements from establishment figures such as Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney at a time when voters feel alienated.


It wasn't supposed to be this way -- McCollum was supposed to walk away with his party's nomination and (hopefully) the job currently being held by Charlie Crist. But now McCollum is looking increasingly alone and Republicans in Florida are starting to worry.

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With BP's shares plummeting, the embattled oil company is reportedly concerned about a hostile takeover. So who's BP turning to for help? Goldman Sachs, of course. Not to mention The Blackstone Group and Credit Suisse.

Fox Business Network's Charlie Gasparino reported yesterday that Goldman was one of "the lead advisers for BP in trying to figure its way financially out of this mess, and it's raising a lot of eyebrows."

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