The Daily Muck

Lobbyists are scouring the recently passed $787 billion stimulus bill for opportunities to leverage tax breaks for their corporate clients. President Obama was elected promising to scale back the powerful reach of lobbyists in Washington. But Arthur “Jerry” Kremer, a Long Island lobbyist, says that business continues to thrive. With an increase in government spending, Kremer’s clients in business and government “just feel they need somebody to speak in a louder voice for them.” (Newsday)

Peter Kurer, the Chairman of UBS, sat on a committee in 2002 that is being accused of conspiring to defraud the U.S. government of tax revenue. Prosecutors believe that the “high level” executive committee knowingly withheld information relating to taxpayers’ personal accounts. Though Kurer was not specifically named, the government report pinpointed UBS executives who “occupied positions at the highest levels of management.” Other UBS executives, including Senior Executive Raoul Weil have already been charged. (Financial Week)

Former Vice President Dick Cheney must give a deposition in a trial involving an Iraq war protester who was arrested after confronting Mr. Cheney at the Beaver Creek ski resort in Colorado in 2006, ruled a federal judge on Monday. Steven Howards has sued five of Cheney’s secret service agents, claiming that he was arrested for assault despite doing nothing more than harshly criticizing Cheney over the Iraq war. Until Monday, Cheney’s lawyers had successfully argued that his deposition was not necessary. (New York Times)

Chutzpah Alert! In a footnote to a court filing, Bernard Madoff claimed that his wife should be allowed to keep nearly $70 million worth of assets, including the couple’s Upper East Side penthouse, arguing that they aren’t related to his alleged fraud, reports the Wall Street Journal. The claim was in response to a federal judge’s move to has modify a prior order, allowing prosecutors to seek seizure of Madoff’s assets. (CNBC)

A Dutch company that contracted with the US government to fill the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve has ties to the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal. Vitol Holding BV paid a fine of $17.5 million after pleading guilty in 2007 to paying kickbacks to Saddam Hussein’s government in 2001-2002. The company also has had dealing with Iran, which potentially puts it in violation of the Iran Sanctions Act. A bipartisan group of lawmakers has called on Energy Secretary Steven Chu to review and perhaps cancel Vitol’s contracts. (The Wall Street Journal)

Members of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee have received contributions totaling $7.8 million from the lobbying firm PMA and its clients since 1998, according to a study by the Center for Responsive Politics. Subcommittee chair John Murtha (D-PA) has taken the most — almost $2.4 million. PMA, which was founded by a former Murtha aide, saw its Virginia offices raided by the FBI in November of 2008, in connection with a federal probe into whether it gave political contributions in return for earmarks for its clients. (Center for Responsive Politics)