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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Heads up: Today at 1 PM WaPo online is going to hold a virtual panel discussion with a group of prominent bloggers about 'Ethics & Interactivity', i.e., just what happened with the whole ombudsman Howell thing.

Bring soap in case you need to wash your mouth out.

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) may have an Abramoff problem and Sen. Burns (R-MT) may just kick your butt if you mention his. That and more news of the day in today's Daily Muck.

Here's something that caught my attention.

Mitch Wade, then-owner of MZM, Inc., was one of the key bribers in the Duke Cunningham scandal. Some time ago, a source close to the case, informed me that Wade began cooperating with investigators at an early point in the investigation.

Now, aside from the various criminal activity, what stood out about Wade was how focused his political giving was. The great majority of MZM and Wade money went to three politicians -- Duke Cunningham (R-CA), Katherine Harris (R-FL) and Virgil Goode (R-VA).

The reasons for lathering up Duke speak for themselves. With Harris and Goode, Wade was angling for federal contracts for work located in their districts.

Point being, Wade didn't spread the money around too widely. It was all focused and directly tied to specific business concerns.

That why I was surprised to see that he had given rather generously to DC At-Large Councilmember David Catania. In 2002, Wade gave Catania's reelection campaign two checks for $1000 each. His wife, Christianne, gave another check for $1000. MZM PAC chipped in another $1000. And there was one more $1000 check in 2002. That was from the Eagle Group, MZM's 527 committee (See Roll Call, July 13, 2005). In its history, Eagle Group contributed to only two candidates -- Duke Cunningham ($5000) and David Catania ($1000).

Now, as you'll remember, Mitch Wade set up all sorts of business and charitable entities of uncertain legitimacy. Yet another was the Sure Foundation. It was run from the MZM offices. Wade's wife was the President; Mitch was the Treasurer. Duke's wife and daughter were on the advisory board. So, sort of all in the family, you might say.

Then I noticed this article from April 17th, 2005 in the Washington Post, not long before the Duke story broke. It's about how Catania helped put Effi Barry (former wife of DC Councilmember and ex-mayor Marion Barry) together with Mitch Wade for a $10,000 a month job working for the Sure Foundation.

We pick up the story in the Post ...

Effi Barry was about to pack her bags to move to South Carolina for a college teaching position last fall, when D.C. Council member David A. Catania called.

"He asked me: 'What are you doing? We don't want you to leave the city. I know an organization. . . . Why don't you give them a call?' " Barry said, recounting the conversation.

That encounter between Catania (I-At Large) and the former wife of council member and ex-mayor Marion Barry led to a consulting contract that persuaded her to remain in the District.

Catania said he had immediately thought of Effi Barry when a friend, Mitchell J. Wade, mentioned that his nonprofit wanted to make inroads in the District's poverty-stricken communities. Catania told Wade, a board member of the Sure Foundation, of Effi Barry's ties to the city and knowledge of communities east of the Anacostia River where some of the poorest children reside.

Did Catania reach out to help Effi Barry curry favor with newly elected council member Barry?

Catania said there was no underlying motive. In fact, he said, he already has "a very cordial relationship" with Marion Barry (D-Ward 8).

Council member Barry said Catania casually mentioned that he had helped Effi Barry with a job, after the fact.

"He didn't ask me to do anything," Barry said. "I don't do stuff like that. It would take more than helping my former wife out to get me to build an alliance. . . . I'm not for sale."

The consulting work was a good match, period, Catania said. Effi Barry, Wade and officials from the foundation agree.

"Some jobs are manufactured, and this one was not," Catania said. "I knew Sure was looking and Effi was looking, too. I just helped them make a nice fit."


Catania, Marion Barry, Mitch Wade? Your guess is as good as mine. And I haven't a clue. Needless to say, nothing I've been able to find demonstrates any unethical, let along illegal, behavior on Catania's part. But Catania does seem to have had some clear association with Wade. And given Wade's now-demonstrated track record of slammericious activities and a slammericious future, I'm curious what the association was.

Good catch by Thinkprogress. Isikoff says it's Abramoff who's shopping those photos of himself with President Bush. Makes sense.

With the very word 'lobbyist' now quickly becoming a tainted title and with so many lobbyists now claiming that they are not, in fact, lobbyists, I'm starting to wonder whether we might be on the course to full-scale rebranding.

Along those lines a few possibilities have occurred to me ...

Government relations consultants

Influence consultants

Influence peddlers

Public/Private Sector Mediators

Legislation Brokerage (that would be for the shop, not the individual lobbyist)

Legislation stylist

More ideas? Suggest them here.

Is Alabama the Cayman Islands of the political money-laundering racket? Tom DeLay sure seemed to think so. Seems the Hammer set up a special Alabama division of ARMPAC which bagged $750,000 of contributions from out of state and then shipped all but $11,000 back out.

All perfectly legal, it seems. At least, legal in terms of not bringing in or dishing out any of the money in the state. But an interesting rock to turn over. And Tommy Stevenson of the Tuscaloosa News turns over a few of them here.

Remember the Arabian Horse outfit Brownie worked at before he went on to bigger and better things running FEMA? They must have still been thanking their lucky stars for Brownie's services because they chipped in $15,000 just before the 2002 election when DeLay was burning through cash trying to flip the Texas state legislature.

Rep. Doolittle won't back down from his principled stand in favor of corrupt lobbying. That and other news of the day in today's Daily Muck.

I see there are a lot of people around the web taking shots at Hillary Clinton, or more specifically at her probable presidential candidacy in 2008.

Though I wrote five years ago that I find the whole idea of a Hillary presidential bid wildly improbable, I say the following as an admirer and supporter of Sen. Clinton. (She's my senator now, after all.)

But here's a reason for not supporting her candidacy that I don't hear often enough: political dynasticism.

Inherited presidencies are not unprecedented in American history (viz. the Adamses). But father and son presidencies like the Bushes -- so close in time and political consanguinity -- are unprecedented. (John Q. Adams was elected twenty-four years after his father and he had arguably become a member of the opposing party.) Add to that the expectation that yet another Bush son -- Jeb -- will run for the presidency at some point over the next decade.

I don't just think that's a bad thing because it's a political family whose politics I find egregious. I think it's just a bad thing for the republic, period. Nor is it only the Bushes or only the presidency.

I think I've seen some relatively systematic data showing a growth in the number of members of congress who are political legacies. Again, not unprecedented by any means, but a tendency that is growing and one I don't think is healthy in the aggregate.

George H. W. Bush left office to be followed by two terms of Bill Clinton. He in turn was followed by two terms of Bush's son. If those two terms of the son are followed by the election of Clinton's wife, I don't see where that's a good thing for this country. It ceases to be a fluke and grows into a pattern. It's dynasticism.

A question someone might want to ask Scott McClellan.

A company called Reflections Photography handles photography and photo sales for many Republican political events.

They did the event photography for Bush-Cheney 2004 fundraisers, for instance.

Here's their online catalogue. You can view and purchase thousands of photos of Bush campaign and other GOP events.

Just by way of example, here are the photos from a recent Steele for Senate fundraiser in Baltimore attended by President Bush.

Now, Time recently reported that: "Bracing for the worst, Administration officials obtained from the Secret Service a list of all the times Abramoff entered the White House complex, and they scrambled to determine the reason for each visit. Bush aides are also trying to identify all the photos that may exist of the two men together."

Did the White House, earlier this month, order Reflections to remove a photograph of a smiling President Bush and Jack Abramoff from its archive?

Photo-plumbers?

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