Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

From the AP ...

Tom DeLay deliberately raised more money than he needed to throw parties at the 2000 presidential convention, then diverted some of the excess to longtime ally Roy Blunt through a series of donations that benefited both men's causes.

When the financial carousel stopped, DeLay's private charity, the consulting firm that employed DeLay's wife and the Missouri campaign of Blunt's son all ended up with money, according to campaign documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

Jack Abramoff, a Washington lobbyist recently charged in an ongoing federal corruption and fraud investigation, and Jim Ellis, the DeLay fundraiser indicted with his boss last week in Texas, also came into the picture.

Round and round it goes, where it stops <$NoAd$> ...

Al Gore gave a speech this morning on the decline of the media, public discourse in America, and the threat both hold for the future of American democracy. See the transcript here.

From reader emails, it seems there were more than a few who took my comments yesterday about Miers to mean that I think that Dems should support her. I'm not sure how that meaning got across. But if it did, mark it down as my not being clear enough when I was thinking out loud.

My point was to note the real possibility that Miers could be knocked out only to be replaced by a genuine extremist who would likely be voted through without much difficulty by Senate Republicans.

Extremist versus hacklicious toady, sort of sums up the choices that may be on offer.

Along those lines, Sen. Lott now puts himself down as leaning against.

Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is telling leading Dems he's in the race against Sen. DeWine in Ohio, will announce this week.

From Roll Call (sub.req.): "Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) questioned Tuesday whether Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers has a 'firm commitment' to what he called the framers’ 'original intent' of the Constitution, saying that President Bush’s knowledge of her “heart” didn’t end the need for tough questioning."

I was thinking yesterday about the Miers nomination. And it occurred to me that while President Bush may not be world's most brilliant man, as Miers has claimed, he may have an unintended knack for irony.

In the case of John Roberts the president served up a nominee who was pretty clearly a down-the-line conservative but also, in the sense of value-neutral credentials and qualifications, certainly qualified for the job. With Miers, you have someone with what might be real moderate tendencies, but also someone who on pretty much every count seems unqualified for the position.

So what to do?

Certainly one thing to do is sit back and relish the brewing fight between the principled wingnuts and the confirmed Bush toadies. At the same time, it must be occurring to at least some Dems that, at least in ideological terms, they could likely do far worse than Miers. In any case, set that all aside and focus on the fact that Miers has been involved -- often deeply involved -- in pretty much everything that the White House has been trying to keep secret for going on five years. That should make for interesting questioning.

With all the speculation and contention about the three indictments Travis County Prosecutor Ronnie Earle has secured against Tom DeLay, it's easy to forget one point: the Earle investigation was supposed to be the one DeLay squeaked by on, the lesser of the two ethical-legal sandtraps on his politico-personal horizon.

Whatever the disposition of the Texas indictments, most Republicans will now tell you, privately, that they don't expect DeLay ever to recover the Majority Leader's office. But even if he manages that highly improbable early knock-out blow in Texas, he's still got the Abramoff case waiting.

The news out of the UK this week -- that DOJ officials asked their counterparts in England and Scotland to do follow up interviews about DeLay's activities on his Abramoff trips -- is another sign that he's at the center of the Abramoff investigation. That's where his real problems have always been.

Lawyers, ethics watchdogs, hill staffers and you at home can help with some open-source investigative reporting. As you know, Jack Abramoff rented skyboxes at several DC area sports and entertainment complexes, which he used to dole out favors, goodies and fundraising assistance to Republican members of Congress and their staffs. Recently I've been working my way through records from Preston Gates (Abramoff's firm before he decamped to Greenberg Traurig) which detail which staffers and members got tickets to what events, who they brought with them and so forth.

Now, for instance, below is a roster from Abramoff's assistant Susan Ralston which goes in to who got to go to the "WWF Raw is War" event on October 2nd, 2000. (Click here to see the full size copy just added to the TPM Document Collection.)

This one includes staffers from Reps. Forbes, Lazio, Pombo, Green of Wisconsin, McKeon, Blunt, Sens, Smith and <$Ad$> Chafee, and one staffer from the House Rules Committee, Celeste West.

So a few questions.

For you Hill folks, how commonplace is this up there -- a lobbyist who routinely gives free tickets to ball games and concerts and even professional wrestling events to staffers from the offices of helpful members of Congress?

Several of the staffers on the roster for the "WWF Raw is War" shindig show up getting skybox tickets again and again just during 2000. A lawyer familiar with the Preston Gates records and the Abramoff skybox operation says there's no sign any of them ever reimbursed or paid for the tickets. So how does that square with Congressional ethics rules? A problem?

DeLay beats the rap on a technicality?

A new piece just out from the Austin American-Statesman provides more details. According to the new article, the original indictment was flawed (a claim pushed by the defense, but contradicted by other published reports: see below). The conspiracy statute in question didn't come into effect until 2003. So the prosecutors, it seems, reindicted DeLay under a different statute, but on the same facts.

See the piece for more details.

On the contrary, the Houston Chronicle interviews a law prof at UT who says that DeLay's lawyers' contention that the original indictment is flawed is itself bogus ...

George Dix, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law who is an expert in criminal law and procedure, said he doesn't believe changes made to the Texas election code by the 2003 legislature have any effect on the conspiracy charge.

The penal code's conspiracy charge allows for the charge if the defendants allegedly conspired to commit any felony, including an election code felony.

Just because the election code was "silent" on the penal code provision until 2003, it doesn't mean it wasn't a valid charge before 2003, Dix said.

"To me it just says, 'We really mean what we said implicitly before,' " Dix said.

More soon.