The Daily Muck

October 13, 2006 8:11 a.m.

Abramoff Figure Rep. Ney to Plead Guilty… And Resign from Congress?
“Pressed by Republican House colleagues to resign, Rep. Bob Ney is the first congressman to fall in the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling case, a controversy that has reached the Bush White House and Capitol Hill….

“Ney signed papers a month ago admitting to charges of conspiracy and making false statements, acknowledging that he had deprived the public of his honest services.

“The Ohio congressman says he took tens of thousands of dollars worth of trips, sports tickets, campaign contributions, meals and casino chips in exchange for legislation and public statements supporting Abramoff’s clients and a foreign businessman.

“With the Justice Department recommending 27 months behind bars for Ney, the congressman may announce his decision to step down when he appears before U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle, an appointee of
President Clinton.

“Longtime Washington lawyer Stephen Ryan said ‘the most likely event’ is that Ney will quit in front of the judge because that would represent acceptance of responsibility for his crimes, a critical issue with regard to the length of his prison term.” (AP)

New E-mail Surfaces Showing Link Between Abramoff, Calif. Lawmaker
“A day after a hot campaign debate in which Rep. John Doolittle said there was nothing unethical in his relationship with Jack Abramoff, a new e-mail surfaced Thursday indicating he was hoping his wife could go to work for the disgraced lobbyist as early as 2000.

“The e-mail released Thursday was written by Kevin Ring, an Abramoff associate and former Doolittle staffer, to his boss. In it, Ring relates that Doolittle is ‘very very excited and appreciative’ about the possibility of his wife, Julie, going to work for an Abramoff nonprofit group called Toward Tradition.

“‘JTD knows of the group and would like to talk to you about it,’ the e-mail says.

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“The e-mail suggests Doolittle was trying to get a job for his wife two years before she ultimately took a position working for Abramoff at his law firm, Greenberg Traurig.

“Richard Robinson, Doolittle’s campaign spokesman, said late Thursday, ‘Julie never did any work for Toward Tradition, never was offered a job’ and that ‘the Doolittles have no recollection of it.'” (Sacramento (Calif.) Bee)

House Panel Grills Foley’s Former Aide
“Former Rep. Mark Foley’s one-time aide didn’t waver Thursday from his past statements during nearly five hours of closed testimony before the House ethics committee, the witness’ lawyer said. Kirk Fordham has publicly said he raised alarms with the House speaker’s top aide nearly three years ago.

“Fordham, who was Foley’s chief of staff, would not comment after emerging from a session with the ethics committee. His lawyer, Timothy Heaphy, would not provide details.

“Heaphy said Fordham was ‘consistent in his accounts’ and ‘forthcoming.'” (AP, NYT, WaPo)

Hastert Not Around For Long
“A senior party aide said House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who oversees the congressional intern program at the center of the scandal, could be forced out after the November 7 elections instead of immediately, as has been urged by some critics. Hastert has said he intends to stay on the job.

“‘Looks like right now he will keep his job for a maximum of one and one-half months,’ said a top party aide, adding that in the meantime Hastert may fire some staffers. Other aides said it remained unclear how long he would stay.” (Reuters)

How Rove Twisted Foley’s Arm
“Yesterday, a source close to Foley explained to THE NEW REPUBLIC that in early 2006 the congressman had all but decided to retire from the House and set up shop on K Street. ‘Mark’s a friend of mine,’ says this source. ‘He told me, ‘I’m thinking about getting out of it and becoming a lobbyist.'”

“But when Foley’s friend saw the Congressman again this spring, something had changed. To the source’s surprise, Foley told him he would indeed be standing for re-election. What happened? Karl Rove intervened.” (TNR)

Bush Backs Hastert, When Backing Hastert Isn’t Cool
“President Bush stood shoulder-to-shoulder with embattled House Speaker Dennis Hastert on Thursday, offering a powerful boost in his moment of need and declaring the country “better off” with Hastert in power.

“‘I am proud to be standing with the current speaker of the House who is going to be the future speaker of the House,’ Bush said as he opened a speech to raise money for two Illinois congressional candidates.

“The $1.1 million fundraiser provided the first picture of Bush with Hastert since a scandal broke involving a Republican congressman pursuing underage male pages.” (AP, NYT, LATimes)

Report Says Nonprofits Sold Influence to Abramoff
“Five conservative nonprofit organizations, including one run by prominent Republican Grover Norquist, ‘appear to have perpetrated a fraud’ on taxpayers by selling their clout to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Senate investigators said in a report issued yesterday.

“The report includes previously unreleased e-mails between the now-disgraced lobbyist and officers of the nonprofit groups, showing that Abramoff funneled money from his clients to the groups. In exchange, the groups, among other things, produced ostensibly independent newspaper op-ed columns or news releases that favored the clients’ positions.” (WaPo, AP, NYT, LATimes)

McCain Bails Out of Event for Foley-Tainted GOPer, Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY)
“Sen. John McCain, who weeks ago had promised to speak Oct. 20, backed out sometime between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning. The call conveying McCain’s regrets came to Reynolds, who was counting on McCain to showcase his influence in the capital….

“‘We definitely will come up for Tom Reynolds’ luncheon in Rochester’ on Oct. 20, which includes a press availability afterward, said Craig Goldman, spokesman for Straight Talk America, McCain’s national political action committee.

Goldman acknowledged McCain’s speaking date was confirmed with the county Republcan organization.

‘But we had so many other requests for the senator to appear,’ McCain couldn’t keep the engagement, he said.

Asked where McCain plans to be instead of Reynolds’ $250-a-plate dinner in the Statler Towers, Goldman said, ‘We haven’t figured that out yet.'” (Buffalo News)

The Coming Gay Republican Purge
“Immediately after the Mark Foley scandal broke, some anti-Republican gay-rights activists composed a memo containing the names of closeted gay Republican Congressional staffers and sent it to leading Christian-right advocacy groups. The founder and chairman of one of those groups, the Rev. Don Wildmon of the American Family Association, told me he has received that memo, which he referred to simply as ‘The List.’ Based on The List’s contents, Wildmon is convinced that a secretive gay ‘clique’ boring within the Republican-controlled Congress is responsible for covering up Foley’s sexual predation toward teenage male House pages. Moreover, Wildmon calls on the Republican Party leadership to promptly purge the “subversive” gay staffers.” (The Nation)

FEC Asked to Tighten Regulations
“Campaign finance watchdog groups filed complaints Thursday against two independent political groups asking the
Federal Election Commission to tighten its regulations on nonprofit organizations that run political advertising.

“A 2002 campaign finance law banned the national political parties from collecting unlimited amounts of money and placed restrictions on the use of corporate or union money to pay for some political ads. But the law did not specifically address political activities by so called 527 political organizations — nonprofit groups named for the section of the IRS code under which they are organized.

“Majority Action, whose backers include some top Democratic Party luminaries, has been financed with large donations from major Democratic donors. Most of the Economic Freedom Fund’s money comes from Bob Perry of Texas, who helped finance the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that ran ads against
John Kerry in the 2004 presidential campaign.” (AP)

Study Finds More Than 1,300 Ex-Legislators among 2005 State Lobbying Ranks
“Over a three-year period ending in 2005, nearly 1,600 former lawmakers across the country were registered at some point to lobby state legislatures for special interests, according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity. More than 1,300 ex-lawmakers were registered to lobby in 2005 alone.” (Center for Public Integrity)

Marine Sergeant Comes Forward to Report Abuse at Guantanamo Bay
“‘One sailor specifically said, “I took the detainee by the head and smashed his head into the cell door,”‘ Sgt. Heather Cerveny tells ABC News in an exclusive interview.

“She says she was ‘shocked’ to hear several guards from different parts of the camp speak openly of mistreating prisoners.

“‘Everyone in the group laughed at all their stories of beating detainees,’ she recalled. ‘None of them looked like they cared. None of them looked shocked by it.'” (ABC News)

Baker Iraq Panel: “Victory” Is Not an Option
“A commission formed to assess the Iraq war and recommend a new course has ruled out the prospect of victory for America, according to draft policy options shared with The New York Sun by commission officials.

“Currently, the 10-member commission — headed by a secretary of state for President George H.W. Bush, James Baker — is considering two option papers, ‘Stability First’ and ‘Redeploy and Contain,’ both of which rule out any prospect of making Iraq a stable democracy in the near term.” (NYSun)

British Army Chief Backs off Iraq Pullout Comments

“Britain’s army chief, who set off a political storm by calling for troops to be withdrawn from Iraq “soon,” said Friday he meant a phased withdrawal over two or three years, and denied that he was attacking government policy.

“Dannatt said in the initial interview that the British military should ‘get ourselves out sometime soon because our presence exacerbates the security problems.'” (WPost, CNN)

Benefits of Burns’ Space Program Dubious
“Over the last four years, Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) has earmarked more than $8 million for a project ostensibly designed to make Montana a center for space-related research and industry. But despite the millions of dollars in federal funding, it appears to have produced few tangible results while spawning several state and federal investigations. It has also earned lobbyists and companies connected to Burns hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts and lobbying fees as well as more than $80,000 in campaign contributions for Burns and Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.).” (Roll Call) (sub. req.)

Pols Carefully Hide Pork in Defense Bill
Staring into the abyss of minority status in Congress, Republicans signaled dedication to pork barrel spending before recessing for midterm election campaigning. Behind closed doors, the GOP’s King of Pork dressed down the party’s leading foe of earmarks. In the open, the last bill passed before the election was filled with carefully hidden pork.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

Book: Bush Aides Called Evangelicals ‘Nuts’
“A new book by a former White House official says that President Bush’s top political advisors privately ridiculed evangelical supporters as “nuts” and “goofy” while embracing them in public and using their votes to help win elections.

“The former official also writes that the White House office of faith-based initiatives, which Bush promoted as a nonpolitical effort to support religious social-service organizations, was told to host pre-election events designed to mobilize religious voters who would most likely favor Republican candidates.” (LATimes)

U.S. Agents Question Teen
“The latest Sacramento resident to be questioned by federal agents in possible threats against President Bush is a 14-year-old girl with a heart on her backpack and braces on her teeth, a freckle-nosed adolescent who is passionate about liberal politics and cute movie stars.

“Her name is Julia Wilson, and she learned a vivid civics lesson Wednesday when two Secret Service agents pulled her out of biology class at McClatchy High School to ask about comments and images she posted on MySpace. . . .

“Earlier this month, federal officials arrested two Sacramento-area men for allegedly threatening the president. Elk Grove resident Michael Lee Braun has been charged with sending two threatening letters to the El Dorado Hills country club where Bush recently made an appearance. Rocklin resident Howard J. Kinsey is accused of threatening the president through a text message.” (Sacramento (Calif.) Bee)

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