TPM News

The campaign manager for former Connecticut GOP congressman Chris Shays was arrested this morning and charged with embezzling campaign money.

Federal prosecutors allege that Michael Sohn, 34, stole about $250,000 over four years, and that he filed false campaign reports and tax offenses.

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Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) said yesterday that he'd filibuster Senate health care legislation if it does not ultimately contain restrictive, Stupak-like abortion language. That's touched of fairly frantic negotiations, and Nelson has postponed filing his amendment. But for another pro-life Democrat, the issue isn't so black and white.

"I already voted back in July, where we had a number of amendments in [the Senate HELP] committee on abortion, where I voted as a pro-life Democrat but also supported the bill coming out of committee, and that's what I'll do here," Casey told reporters this morning.

Aside from the public option, perhaps the biggest hurdle Democrats face if they want to make it through this period of debate and amendments, and pass a health care bill, is abortion.

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The underlying issue is far less consequential -- but it's ironic to see the White House falling back on a argument against transparency that Democrats have spent the last few years challenging.

Asked Wednesday whether Social Secretary Desiree Rogers would testify before Congress about her role in the Salahi affair, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters:

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Here's a fun coda on Bobby Jindal's links to Scott Rothstein, the Fort Lauderdale lawyer who is accused of a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme: at the time of the Republican governors' conference in Miami last year, Rothstein and his wife hosted a $10,000-per-couple cocktail reception for Jindal at Casa Casuarina, the mansion where designer Gianni Versace was murdered in 1997.

We already knew about a pre-game fundraiser for the Louisiana governor, co-chaired by Rothstein, that was held the day of the LSU-UF matchup in October 2008. After TPMmuckraker reported that event, Jindal said he would give back $30,000 to a victim's compensation fund, once one was created.

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White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said it is "unlikely" the outstanding issues between the U.S. and Russia will be resolved in the next 24 hours so the two world powers will instead issue a joint statement agreeing to continue the expiring nuclear arms START treaty until the new agreement is inked.

Gibbs said President Obama spoke with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and they agreed on the statement, which the Kremlin has already sent out a day early.

The treaty expires Dec. 5 and the statement agrees to keep with what is in place now for an indefinite period.

Gibbs declined to discuss the sticking points but said he believes they can "work through" them and come to a new agreement.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said today's unemployment figures are the best released in the last 22 months.

"The numbers today show that we continue to make much needed progress in getting this economy going again," Gibbs told reporters in his morning gaggle. "We are clearly moving in the right direction."

He said there will still be "bumps" ahead and credited the $787 billion economic stimulus plan with improvements to the unemployment statistics. Gibbs said President Obama is "pleased" the jobless claims were lower than expected but added that Obama believes any jobless claims are "too many."

Conservative and moderate Democrats met with Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) last night to discuss possible changes to the Senate health care bill, including the potential need for a public option compromise.

Attending the meeting were key health care swing votes Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), and a number of freshman Democrats, including Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Mark Begich (D-AK).

The meeting resulted in few revelations, or major developments--"Generally speaking I didn't hear anything that changes my mind," Lieberman told reporters. But afterwards, I asked Landrieu whether she's concerned that Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)--a public option stalwart--might not be willing to compromise on the public option any further.

"Senator Brown knows what we know, that we've just got to try to find a way forward, and we're going to continue to work with him," Landrieu said. "He's put in a tremendous amount of time and effort."

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