They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

Americans for Tax Reform, the non-profit organization run by powerful GOP operative Grover Norquist, is little more than a front for lobbying operations, the Boston Globe reports today.

With the cover of a nonprofit enterprise, Norquist's "clients" become "donors," and ATR never needs to disclose who they are. Meanwhile, Norquist lobbies heavily on Capitol Hill for their interests, the Globe says, and no one's the wiser.

Until now -- the Globe's Michael Kranish got hold of ATR's donor lists. Fun stuff.

Remember, Norquist was a close associate of Jack Abramoff's. He laundered money for the disgraced lobbyist, set up front groups to fight battles for Abramoff's clients, arranged meetings between Abramoff's clients and the White House, and more. I have a feeling we may hear more.

Over at TPM, Josh asked for backstory on Cynthia McKinney's (D-GA) PunchGate. After all, lawmakers don't often erupt into violence, even feisty ones like McKinney.

Well, it seems that cops have a hard time recognizing McKinney as a lawmaker. From a 2002 Slate profile of the congresswoman:

In August 1993, during her first term in office, a Capitol Hill police officer tried to prevent her from bypassing a metal detector, as members of Congress are allowed to do. For years afterward, The Hill reports, the Capitol Police pinned a picture of McKinney to an office wall, warning officers to learn her face because she refuses to wear her member's pin. (And because officers are innately suspicious of a black woman with braided hair and gold shoes.) Five years later, she blasted White House security after guards thought her 23-year-old white aide was the congresswoman.

I wouldn't say such treatment warrants violence -- but you gotta admit, most lawmakers probably don't have to deal with stuff like this.

The Capitol Police plan to issue an arrest warrant for lawmaker Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), who punched one of their boys in blue a couple days ago.

McKinney canceled a news conference she was planning to hold to address the matter.

The fracas erupted when a policeman at a security checkpoint failed to recognize McKinney, who has served in Congress for over a decade.

See TPM for more thoughts on this.

Tony Rudy pled to a single charge of Conspiracy. Rudy faces a maximum sentence of five years, a fine of $250,000, and $100,000 in restitution. Because of his cooperation, Rudy is likely to receive a sentence in the range of two years to two years, 6 months.

Two Members of Congress are identified in the plea: Representative #1 is Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) and Representative #2 is former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX). Keep in mind that this doesn't mean that this is all Rudy has to give. Guilty pleas are not exhaustive.

Three main observations: 1) I'm not sure there are room for any more nails in Bob Ney's coffin, but if there were, Tony Rudy's plea squeezes them in there.

2) The plea does mention DeLay, but it seems like he's not going to serve up DeLay to prosecutors on a silver platter.

3) The plea doesn't mention Ed Buckham at all.

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Here is the "Information" - the facts to which Tony Rudy pleaded guilty today.

It can be hard to keep all these corrupt former DeLay aides straight - so let's go over who Tony Rudy is.

First, it's absolutely no surprise that Rudy is pleading guilty. He was identified in Jack Abramoff's plea agreement twice (as "Staffer A"). The most serious allegation was that he accepted $50,000 in payments through his wife in order to kill two key pieces of legislation while working for DeLay.

He worked for Tom DeLay through December, 2000, when he left to work for Abramoff at Greenberg Traurig. He was no doubt involved in some shady business there, and he left after a little more than a year to go work for Alexander Strategy Group, the lobbying firm run by Ed Buckham, another former DeLay aide. ASG, whose business was access to Delay, folded shortly after Abramoff pled guilty.

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Reports AP:

Tony Rudy, a former top aide to Rep. Tom DeLay, has agreed to plead guilty to charges in the widening federal investigation of lobbyist fraud, a law enforcement official said Friday.

Late Update: The hearing is scheduled for 10:30 AM, according to the Justice Department.

Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) is refusing to apologize for punching a policeman, the AP reports.

She has said she regretted the incident, but when an Atlanta TV station asked if she would apologize, she refused to comment. On her Web site, McKinney has posted the following comment:

"I know that Capitol Hill Police are securing our safety, and I appreciate the work that they do. I have demonstrated my support for them in the past and I continue to support them now."

No apology there.

Meantime, the CHP are weighing whether or not to bring charges against the congresswoman. And the Repubs are having a field day. Ron Bonjean, spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), was so excited he channeled Bob Dylan: "How many officers would have to be punched before it becomes a big deal?"

Hell Hath No Fury

The sordid backstory of the Abramoff scandal finally gets a proper airing, thanks to the Wall Street Journal. The saga revolves around Emily Miller, the jilted fiance of Michael Scanlon, Abramoff's longtime business partner and confidant.

As the paper tells it:

As the [couple's wedding] date approached, Mr. Scanlon bought a $4.7 million oceanside mansion and guest house, formerly part of the DuPont estate, in Rehoboth Beach, Del. He furnished it down to the monogrammed towels and presented it to his bride-to-be.

Then, with the wedding a few months away, he called off the engagement and started dating a 24-year-old waitress.

Classy! Prosecutors went to Miller to get dirt on Scanlon; the feds flipped Scanlon, who gave up Abramoff. And the GOP establishment trembled.

Ah, the things we do for love, eh? Or for 24-year-old waitresses. Or for revenge. (Wall Street Journal)

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Has Howard "You're Being Really Picky" Kaloogian been improperly portraying support from a prominent Calif. GOP leader?

From a statement today by Calif. State Sen. Tom McClintock:

"It has come to my attention that a campaign mailing on behalf of Howard Kaloogian includes a picture and quote from me that suggests that I have endorsed his candidacy for U. S. Congress. I have not."