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

The Daily Muck


Faerstein said Cunningham admitted his crimes during a 5½ -hour interview in which he cited “a culture of corruption in Washington.”

Read the psychiatric report here.

Roll Call adds that Duke has some friends in high places:  
Writing on stationary emblazoned with “Peter Paul and Mary,” folk singer Peter Yarrow wrote a three-page missive attesting to Cunningham’s work on children’s issues, particularly the lawmaker’s service on the board of Operation Respect, a nonprofit group that seeks to reduce bullying in schools.

Mitchell Wade's Plea

Earlier, we identified Mitchell Wade's man on the inside of the Defense Department, the "Official" in his guilty plea, as William S. Rich, Jr. And both Saturday's NY Times, citing "lawyers involved in the case," and San Diego Union-Tribune, the paper that originally broke the Duke Cunningham story, say it's Rich.

But Saturday's Washington Post gives another name, Robert Fromm. You might say that it's a testiment to the extent of Wade's corruption that you can come with up with more than qualifier for a DoD official who helped Wade from the inside and then moved over to work for him.

Nevertheless, it looks like the Post got this wrong. An odd slip-up, since it was their story last year that first identified Rich's special relationship with Wade.

The confusion is understandable - there were plenty of DoD officials who made their way over to MZM:

Over the past three years, Rich was joined at MZM by at least 15 former intelligence center colleagues -- analysts and administrative personnel hired, in some cases, to work on the same projects they dealt with as government employees, according to present and former NGIC staffers.

Meanwhile, both Rep. Katharine Harris (R-FL) and Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA)  have adamantly denied that they knew anything was untoward about the contributions they received from Wade. 

Think Progress details why they think Katharine Harris protests too much.

Thomas Noe - Pioneer in Corruption

There has long been the suspicion that Thomas Noe of "Coingate" funneled some of his coin money through to Bush's re-election campaign. That's now been confirmed.

Justice Fills the Breach

From Time:

A senior federal law enforcement official told TIME that the paralyzed and often lax House ethics committee has created a vacuum that prosecutors won't hesitate to fill. The House’s internal mechanism for keeping corruption in check is "broken," says the official.

The GOP would unsurprisingly prefer an ethics investigation to a criminal one:

The Justice Department has “every right to investigate when a law is being broken,” says a senior House GOP aide, “However, there is a feeling that they may be crossing boundaries into where the ethics committee should be performing. And it's just another reason why the ethics committee needs to get up and running.”

DeLay Staggers from the Ashes

DeLay's Democratic challenger, Nick Lampson, has more cash on hand than him.

And it's getting worse - he's being forced to dip into his campaign to pay for his legal fees. Already having spent $1M in the past 20 months, now he's taken $110,000 to pay his lawyers. Says his spokeswoman:

“The Democrats have pursued a strategy to attack Congressman DeLay on a legal and political front with the goal of creating a costly financial situation."

The Washington Post reports on DeLay's effort to quash one of his critics, Texans for Public Justice. An IRS audit of the nonprofit turned up...nothing.

Roll Call reports that one special interest in Texas bet on DeLay too late:

Rent-A-Center, the nation’s largest rent-to-own business, entered the political action committee scene last year much the way its customers embark on the process of buying furniture and appliances: tepidly, with small amounts of cash, in the hope that over time the investment will pay off.

But just as some of its patrons end up unable to realize their ownership goal, so too has the company’s Washington, D.C., political strategy stumbled.

Less than a year ago, when Rent-A-Center established its first-ever PAC, its initial campaign contribution went to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas). The total: $2,000....

With time, Rent-A-Center’s ties to DeLay might have flowered. Instead, the timing couldn’t have been worse.

The campaign donation to DeLay was made less than three months before the lawmaker’s indictment in Texas, which forced him to step down from his leadership post.


Jack Abramoffs?

A new possibility occurred to me while reading Howard Kurtz's profile of Jack Abramoff's "media pal" at the Washingtonian, Kim Eisler - does Abramoff have multiple personality disorder? Kurtz:

At one dinner, Eisler says in one of several interviews, Abramoff told him that " 'Bad Jack is dead.' He was acknowledging the fact that there were two Jacks. He had one Jack who ruthlessly pursued this lobbying thing. . . . His attitude toward his adversaries was squash them, destroy them."

Boehner and Blunt Reunited with K Street

Let's never fight again, OK? From The Hill:

It's never in a lobbyist's best interest to feel the least bit alienated from his own party on Capitol Hill or K Street.

So when the dust settled after Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) won a come-from-behind victory in a bruising race for majority leader against Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) early this month, the extended K Street families of the two contenders sat down at Charlie Palmer Steak near the Capitol to break bread and mend fences over dinner Feb. 15.


Tribal Member on this Anglo Corruption Stuff

From the NY Times Magazine interview with David Sickey, a council member from the Louisianna Coushatta, one of Jack Abramoff's tribal clients: 

You mean no politician or political group wants to be associated with you?

The Republican Party wants to frame this as an Indian issue to detract attention away from the dirty antics of the operatives in their party. They're blaming the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.<snip>

...what were your tribal councilmen thinking when they wrote so many checks to Jack Abramoff and the publicist Michael Scanlon?

We wanted access into senior levels of the government, whether it be the Department of the Interior or — Jack said he could reach into the Bush administration and had access to Karl Rove.<snip>

You're only 27 and weren't elected to the tribal council until May 2003, so how many times did you actually meet Abramoff?

Only once, and I was already looking into his billings and his work — or lack thereof. So he was more comfortable with Poncho than with me. Right when he stepped into the conference room, he immediately gave Poncho a big hug.

I assume Poncho was the tribe's chief at the time?

For media purposes, we prefer the word chairman. We've adopted a little bit of Anglo stuff here. There's this stigma attached to chief; it sounds like an old relic from the past.

The Boulis Murder Trial

During a bond hearing for Tony Moscatiello and James Fiorillo, two of the three suspects in the murder of Gus Boulis (from whom Jack Abramoff and Adam Kidan bought SunCruz casinos), defense attorneys grilled one of the main detectives in the case. The bond hearing will continue March 24th.

Muck, Kentucky Style 

From the Bluegrass Report:

Of all the shameless and offensive acts that Governor Fletcher has pulled on us in the two years he's been in office, I don't think any of them compare to the sham he pulled at 5:25 pm on Friday when he appointed two campaign contributors as Special Justices to the Kentucky Supreme Court to hear just one case -- his own desperate appeal in the Merit System criminal investigation.

He's filed an ethics complaint.


Following up on the Philadelphia Daily News' scoop on Santorum's sketchy finances, the AP reports that his charity, Operation Good Neighbor, has only given away 40% of what it spent over a four year period - far below the Better Business Bureau's standard of 65%. Also,  Operation Good Neighbor is based at the same address as Santorum's campaign office, and "some of the same people who have worked on his campaign are working for his charity and collecting money from it, records show."

But The Washington Post reports that the mortgage deal disclosed in the PDN piece did not have particularly favorable terms. So if it was graft, it was not particularly impressive graft.

Sweating for Access

Maybe closing the House gym off to former Members cum lobbyists wasn't such a bad idea. From The Washington Times:

If you want a connection, go to the gym.

"It's a wonderful networking opportunity," said Richard Strauss, president of Strauss Radio Strategies. "I've definitely furthered deals. I meet high-level and influential people here, and it's a good way to touch base."

Did we miss something? Was there local coverage in your area we should know about? Email us at with the Subject line "Daily Muck" and let us know.