TPM News

Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) is posting on Twitter to praise the use of social networking media to organize against the tyrants in Iran -- and the tyrannical Democrats running the House of Representatives.

"Good to see Iranian people move mountains w social media, shining sunlight on their repressive govt - Texans support their bid for freedom," Culberson posted earlier today. He then followed it up with this: "Oppressed minorities includeHouseRepubs: We are using social media to expose repression such as last night's D clampdown shutting off amends"

Over the next few hours -- and following some ridicule in the blogosphere -- Culberson has dug in further. "Pelosi etal shut down House amendments & debate on Approps Bill to prevent conservatives from slowing down their uncontrolled spending spree," he just posted.

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Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) has resigned his leadership position as chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, the fourth-highest position in the Senate GOP conference, in the wake of yesterday's admission that he had an extramarital affair in 2007 and 2008.

Ensign had also previously served in another leadership post, as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the 2008 elections -- a cycle in which the GOP lost eight seats (counting Minnesota).

The folks at Gawker have raised an interesting idea in the John Ensign scandal: Did the housing crisis indirectly trigger Ensign's eventual admission of his affair with a former campaign staffer?

The key facts here are that Ensign's reported former mistress was Cynthia Hampton, whose husband Douglas Hampton is a former top Ensign staffer. The Hamptons in turn had taken out a $1.2 million mortgage in 2006, on what is clearly a very swank house in Las Vegas: Five bedrooms, five full bathrooms and one half-bathroom, three fireplaces, a pool and a spa. The net taxes on the House last year were $8,466.41.

But financial disclosures also show that the Hamptons are not wealthy people. And Douglas Hampton had reportedly been asking Ensign for money, which led to Ensign's public admission.

Another key piece of info: Nevada has had the single-worst percentage drop in home prices in the midst of the housing crisis. It's a rough market out there.

We were unable to contact the Hamptons for comment.

We knew the White House was going to have to offer a fuller explanation for its firing of Gerald Walpin, the inspector general of the Corporation for National and Community Service who had clashed with an Obama ally.

And now it has. In a letter sent last night to Congress, reports Politico, Norm Eisen, the White House ethics counsel, wrote that at a May 20 board meeting, Walpin, 78, had been "confused, disoriented, unable to answer questions and exhibited other behavior that led the Board to question his capacity to serve."

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Sen. John Ensign's (R-NV) Washington office appears to be in lockdown mode, following his admission yesterday of an extra-marital affair.

A phone call to his Washington office will get the caller forwarded straight to a voicemail box -- which is in fact full, thus disconnecting the caller.

This only goes for his Washington office, though, not the state offices. A call placed to his Las Vegas office was in fact answered by a human being.

A new survey of North Carolina from Public Policy Polling (D) is a further indication that Republican Sen. Richard Burr is vulnerable going into his 2010 re-election battle, trailing a generic Democrat.

The numbers: Generic Dem 41%, Burr 38%, with a ±3.5% margin of error. As for an actual Democrat, the Dems recently struck out on recruitment when popular state Attorney General Roy Cooper announced he wasn't running, and no big names have yet popped up to make the race.

"With Burr's numbers much more dire than Elizabeth Dole's at this point two years ago it's a wonder prominent Democrats aren't fighting for the opportunity to run for this seat," PPP president Dean Debnam says in the analysis. "The current crop of Democratic leaders in the state just isn't as ambitious as in most places."

Interestingly, a PPP survey from a few weeks ago showed Burr ahead of several potential Dem candidates who were given as genuine names. So it's quite intriguing that the generic Democrat has a narrow lead.

The Las Vegas Sun points out that Sen. John Ensign's (R-NV) sex scandal could be yet another problem for the state GOP in Nevada -- who currently lack any real leaders due to other scandals and lousy recent elections.

For example, Gov. Jim Gibbons is currently going through a messy divorce, and is one of the most unpopular governors in the country according to polls.

In addition, Ensign's record as a strong social conservative could damage him. "The problem is, he's another one of these Bible-thumping Republicans," said an anonymous Republican operative, who added: "When you take the social conservative banner, there's a higher level of scrutiny on these kinds of things."

House Passes War Funding Bill Over GOP And Left-Wing Dem Opposition The House of Representatives passed the $106 billion funding bill for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, by a 226-202 margin. The roll call vote shows that only five Republicans voted in favor -- due to a GOP effort to derail the bill over the inclusion of money for the International Monetary Fund -- along with 32 Democrats voting No, on the grounds that the bill did not do enough to end the wars.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will meet with financial regulators at 11:40 a.m. ET. At 12:50 p.m. ET, he will deliver remarks laying out a comprehensive regulatory reform plan. At 2 p.m. ET, he will meet with Sec. of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan. At 5:45 p.m. ET, he will deliver remarks and sign a Presidential Memorandum to grant benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.

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Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel under President Bush, has finally testified, behind closed doors, as part of Congress's investigation of the US attorney firings, reports FOXNews.com.

That raises an obvious question: When will Karl Rove do the same? Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, told TPMmuckraker last month that he expected Rove to testify in early June. But today Luskin did not immediately return our call.

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Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), who had been considering a 2012 presidential campaign, has now admitted to an extra-marital affair, and will hold a press conference later today in Nevada to explain it further.

Chris Cillizza reports that the affair took place between December 2007 and August 2008, with a woman who worked for Ensign's re-election campaign and his Battle Born leadership PAC. The Associated Press reports that the woman was married to one of Ensign's Senate staffers.

Ensign had recently travelled to Iowa, to address an audience of conservative activists.

Late Update: Ensign's wife Darlene has also released a statement: "Since we found out last year we have worked through the situation and we have come to a reconciliation. This has been difficult on both families. With the help of our family and close friends our marriage has become stronger."

TPMLivewire