David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

Rep. Jon Porter (R-NV) has finally released his schedule and phone records in response to allegations from a former aide that Porter illegally made campaign fundraising calls from his Washington and district offices.

Funny thing is the records don't exactly disprove the allegation. If anything, they seem to support the allegations, at least in part:

The records show that on one day, Porter made calls to donors and others at a time when his schedule says he was in his district office.

But Porter said he wasn't actually at the office the entire time. At times, he would step out of the office to make the calls or leave to go to lunch or for other reasons, he said. He provided a receipt from a restaurant called Sweet Tomatoes where he said he and his chief of staff, Mike Hesse, had lunch during the hours in question.

. . .

The call time on April 18 is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Porter's call records indicate he called seven people during those hours, including his daughter, his brother and several friends and donors. He said fundraising may have been discussed in some of those calls but, if so, he was not in the office; it was that day he says he dined at Sweet Tomatoes.

The Sweet Tomatoes defense? A new addition to the political scandal lexicon.

I caught the tail end of the O'Reilly v. Letterman slugfest last night. Pretty entertaining. Crooks and Liars has the whole segment.

How 'bout them Cards!

Update: We have some sour Tigers fans out there. From a TPM reader:

I don't want to hear about the Cards or any other baseball team on TPM. Let's keep the topics related to politics and skip your sports boosterism. It's annoying and guaranteed to bother all the Tiger fans, like me. I'll tune into a sports website for stuff like this. Thanks.

Always interesting poking through the FEC independent expenditure reports filed late on Fridays.

The NRCC, spending like a drunk sailor, reported laying out another $7 million.

Let me hit some of the highlights. These aren't the biggest buys from that $7 million pot, but the NRCC is spending money in places you don't expect to see the GOP having to marshall its resources:

CO-5: The NRCC has made what appears to be its first expenditure in this race, almost $150,000 for a seat which Democrats have never held. A SurveyUSA poll released October 19 showed Democrat Jay Fawcett down by 13 percentage points, but a Mason-Dixon poll released October 10 showed him tied with Republican candidate Doug Lamborn. If the spread were still 13, you wouldn't see the NRCC spending that kind of money here. The race is to fill the seat by the retiring moderate Republican Joel Hefley, who has refused to endorse Lamborn.

NV-3: In yet another sign that GOP incumbent Jon Porter is in trouble, the NRCC has just put almost $400,000 into this race to attack Tessa Hafen.

NV-2: For every dime the GOP spends here, say a little prayer for Chrissy Mazzeo, the cocktail waitress who has accused Jim Gibbons, the GOP incumbent, of propositioning/accosting her in a Vegas parking garage on Friday the 13th. Gibbons is running for governor of Nevada, but before the Mazzeo encounter, the NRCC had not spent a cent on this open-seat race. Since then, it just spent almost half a million dollars, about $230,000 of that coming in the last couple of days.

Wyoming: Yes, Wyoming! Friday the NRCC made its first foray into the race for the lone House seat in blood-red Wyoming, with a $241,000 ad buy against Democrat Gary Trauner, who is challenging Rep. Barbara Cubin. A Mason-Dixon poll about 10 days ago showed Cubin up by 7 percentage points. But that was before she threatened to slap a man in a wheelchair. Shoot a man in the face. Threaten to slap a wheelchair-bound man in the face. It's been a tough year for Wyoming Republicans.

One other race that is reported to be tightening is the Nebraska 3rd in western Nebraska, where Coach Tom Osborne is retiring. The Dems have not held a congressional seat in central or western Nebraska since 1958, but there are indications that the NRCC is poised to put money into this race.

TPM readers on the ground in any of these districts, let us hear from you.

More outside money is flowing into the NV-03, where Tessa Hafen is mounting an unexpectedly stiff challenge to Republican incumbent Jon Porter. The Democratic 527 group, VoteVets, whose ads this year include this one about insufficient body armor in Iraq, spent a quarter of a million dollars this week for attack ads on Porter, according to FEC reports filed yesterday.

The fight is on in New Jersey. The RNC yesterday dropped $3 million into the Senate race for attack ads on Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

Did Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, the GOP's write-in candidate for Tom Delay's old seat, break Texas election laws by campaigning inside a polling station this week?

Poll watcher Jane Borden Matcha said Sekula-Gibbs entered the polling place inside the First Colony Conference Center on Thursday.

"I was dumbfounded because she marched right up to me and said ‘Hi, I’m Shelley Sekula-Gibbs’ …and it was my understanding that candidates are not allowed in the polling place unless they're voting," Borden Matcha said.

. . .

"I had gone inside to go the bathroom," said Sekula-Gibbs. "I was definitely not campaigning."

Who can blame her for hanging out at polling stations? The poor woman has about the worst name imaginable for a write-in candidate. Actually, what I think she said was, "Hi, I'm S-H-E-L-L-E-Y space S-E-K-U-L-A hyphen G-I-B-B-S."

The current budget deficit? Clinton's fault.

So says Rep. John "Animal House" Sweeney (R-NY):

The deficit is actually a result of a recession that began in his administration. We are exponentially paying down the deficit in an accelerated time frame.

Mark Foley started trying to diddle pages during Clinton's administration, so I guess we should blame Clinton for that, too.

That splashing sound is the rats jumping overboard:

Corporate America is already thinking beyond Election Day, increasing its share of last-minute donations to Democratic candidates and quietly devising strategies for how to work with Democrats if they win control of Congress.

The shift in political giving, for the first 18 days of October, has not been this pronounced in the final stages of a campaign since 1994, when Republicans swept control of the House for the first time in four decades.

. . .

An analysis by The New York Times of contributions from Oct. 1 to 18, the latest data available, shows that donations to Republicans from corporate political action committees dropped by 11 percentage points in favor of Democratic candidates, compared with corporate giving from January through September.

Republicans still received 57 percent of contributions, compared with 43 percent for Democrats, but it was the first double-digit October switch since 1994.

Hedging time.