The Daily Muck

Despite Abramoff Scandal, Burns Drops Modesty in Lobbyist Fundraising
In January, Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) moved a $1,000-a-plate “birthday party” from its original venue — the offices of powerful lobbying firm Cassidy and Associates — to the National Republican Senatorial Committee headquarters. It was just a temporary thing: Next month, Burns is planning a $500-a-person (and $1000-a-PAC) breakfast fundraiser at the offices of law/lobby firm Patton Boggs.

The event is hosted by three lobbyists who specialize in winning earmarks for their customers. “One of the hosts, Kevin O’Neill, has ‘secured more than $100 million in federal appropriations for his clients,’ according to the [firm’s] Web site,” AP reports.

Burns recently gave up $150,000 in campaign donations he had received from Abramoff, his partners and his clients. (AP)Lawmakers refute Volz testimony
Hours after a former aide to Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) testified in court that a few House GOP lawmakers and staff worked with former lobbyist Jack Abramoff on a government leasing arrangement, two of the legislators strongly denied many of the allegations. (The Hill)

In Safavian Trial, Former Abramoff Lobbyist Describes The Business
Identify your “champions” and shower them with expensive gifts and perks. Make them eager to help you out. Fill out mandatory disclosure forms only when you want to, and only include numbers and details that won’t draw press scrutiny. (NYTimes, WPost, AP, Copley)

Whistle-blowers in public jobs dealt a blow by Supreme Court
Public employees who speak up about possible government wrongdoing in the course of their regular duties are not protected against employer retaliation by the First Amendment, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday. (USA Today)

McCain cancels Bilbray event over immigration
Arizona Sen. John McCain on Tuesday canceled an appearance for a Republican congressional candidate who has attacked his opponent for supporting McCain’s immigration bill. McCain, R-Ariz., was scheduled to speak Wednesday at a breakfast fundraiser for Brian Bilbray, who is locked in a close runoff race with Democrat Francine Busby for the San Diego-area seat left vacant by disgraced former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham. The event was expected to raise at least $65,000. (AP)

Amid Scandals, Ethics Questions, Doolittle Raises Record Sum
Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-CA) has raised over $1.1 million in his re-election bid, despite his ties both to former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and to figures in the Cunningham bribery scandal. In addition, he has been criticized for paying his wife a percentage of his political donations. In the past six weeks, Julie Doolittle picked up nearly $30,000. Nice work if you can get it. (SacBee)

Montana’s Burns gets set for tough race
“Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) is about as vulnerable as incumbents get,” said Jennifer Duffy, who handicaps Senate races for the non-partisan Cook Political Report. “I think (Jack) Abramoff is 75% of his problem, and the other 25% is just the overall bad political climate for Republicans,” she said. (USA Today)

House Plans to Call Gonzales to Justify Search of Office
Judiciary Committee Chair George Sensenbrenner (R-WI) said he planned a legislative response to the search on May 20 of the office of Representative William J. Jefferson, Democrat of Louisiana. The bill would be patterned on a law limiting searches of news media offices. “I think this law will help the Justice Department get it right next time because they didn’t get it right this time,” Mr. Sensenbrenner said. (NYT)

Outlasting all GOP speakers, Hastert shows bold side
Angered by the FBI’s unannounced raid of the Capitol Hill office of a Democratic colleague, Hastert forced a showdown with the Justice Department over the seized documents, and accused the FBI of trying to “intimidate” him by spreading rumors that he was part of a corruption probe. It was a rare moment of public assertiveness for a speaker who has preferred to operate behind the scenes. And for the moment, it worked. (CSM)

Bribery case muddies D.C. political waters
According to a GOP congressman who asked not to be named, Hastert’s office and the Justice Department had been negotiating for weeks on a way to obtain materials and evidence from Jefferson’s office sought in a subpoena. Jefferson had not complied with the subpoena. The negotiations broke down, the congressman said, causing the FBI to obtain a search warrant signed by U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan. Agents conducted the search on the night of May 20 and refused to allow House lawyers to be present during the search. (Chi Trib)