The Daily Muck

Mitchell Wade, owner of MZM, Inc. and part-owner of Duke Cunningham, will plead guilty today. He’s been cooperating with prosecutors for months. As Josh notes, "we’ll be very interested to see what gets mentioned in his plea agreement and how far (and how high — as some close to the case have long speculated) he takes this into the Pentagon." We’ll get you details as soon as we learn them.

But there is plenty of other muck to be had today: 

Another Call for Special Prosecutor

This one is more finely tailored than the one before, when 35 Democratic Senators asked AG Gonzales to appoint a special prosecutor for the entire Abramoff investigation. From the LA Times:

In a letter made public Thursday, Sens. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico and Ken Salazar of Colorado also asked Gonzales to provide the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee with a secret Justice Department report on security risks in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands….

Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty to tax, bribery and conspiracy charges and is awaiting sentencing, bragged in a 2001 e-mail to his clients in Saipan that he would use his connections in the attorney general’s office to block the anticipated report lest it fuel congressional efforts to place new immigration restrictions on the Northern Marianas.

In the e-mail, first reported in the Los Angeles Times, Abramoff boasted that a top aide to then-Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft had been a recent guest in his box at a Washington Redskins football game and had mentioned the report.<snip>

The letter to Gonzales also calls for the special prosecutor to investigate Abramoff’s role in the demotion of Frederick Black, the former acting U.S. attorney for the two Pacific island territories. The demotion came at the same time Black had launched a probe into the secret hiring of Abramoff by Guam court officials. Payments to Abramoff were channeled through another lobbyist.

The senators noted that after Black was replaced, the Abramoff probe came to an abrupt end. They also stated that because the allegations directly involved current and former Justice Department officials, an outside prosecutor was necessary to ensure a full and impartial investigation of the matter.

Fun with Don Young

Rep. Young (R-AK) keeps saying that he’s "never had any personal or professional relationship with [Jack] Abramoff." But the more we look into that, the less that seems to be true. 

At a press conference yesterday, Young groused about losing his precious "bridge to nowhere," and once again denied any connection to Abramoff:

…Young said he has been unfairly pulled into the orbit of the Jack Abramoff scandal….

Young said the Abramoff scandal doesn’t make him vulnerable to challengers, because he had nothing to do with the lobbyist’s transgressions.

As for reports he once addressed the parliament of Marshall Islands wearing Bermuda shorts? Horse manure, Young said. "Can you imagine me in Bermuda shorts?"

Read Josh on the shorts controversy. As for Abramoff, one wonders what someone who has "nothing to do" with Abramoff was doing asking for use of his skybox.

And in other Don Young news, the AP reports that he’s doing his best to covertly help another buddy lobbyist – this time to kill a wind farm project in Nantucket Sound. The Oil Drum has more.

Doolittle Speaks … Again!

Rep. Doolittle (R-CA), friend of DeLay, Abramoff, Ed Buckham, Duke Cunningham, and Brent Wilkes, has announced his bid for re-election. He faces a Republican challenger in the primary. You can watch a prolonged interview with him here.

Texas Republicans Rally around DeLay

Or at least the ones who owe him. From the AP:

Rep. Tom DeLay was likened to Stonewall Jackson, Lyndon Baines Johnson and a courageous World War I officer Thursday as members of the Texas Republican congressional delegation joined the former House majority leader to endorse his re-election….

[Rep. Bonilla (R-TX)] noted that such an event was unprecedented in a primary season and was a signal of the loyalty DeLay has engendered in Washington.


From USA Today:

Gifts, travel and promises of lucrative lobbying jobs are topics that should be addressed in the legislation the Senate will soon take up, senators said Thursday.

A group of seven Republicans and four Democrats also said a lobbying and ethics overhaul should include greater openness about the thousands of specific projects stuck into larger spending bills, often with little explanation of their purpose or worth.

Among the members of this group: Rick Santorum (R-PA), John McCain (R-AZ), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) and Barack Obama (D-IL).

From U.S. News:

A group of conservatives has launched a new small nonprofit group, LobbySense, to take on lobbying reform proposals that call for increased disclosure for the lobbying activities of certain grass-roots groups, coalitions, and associations.

The group, directed by Jason Wright, president of the Institute for Liberty, takes specific aim at a provision of the lobbying reform proposal introduced last year by Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, and Rep. Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican, that requires increased transparency and disclosure for paid lobbying by organizations and associations. LobbySense supporters include Grover Norquist and other prominent conservative tax reformers such as Scott Pullins, president of the Ohio Taxpayers Association.


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