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Tom DeLay Gets The Best Representation Money Can Buy

Former majority leader Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) has shelled out $1.3 million in legal fees in less than two years. He has four different firms helping him face money laundering charges in Texas, and federal investigators in D.C. They've received $400,000 from DeLay this year alone. Thankfully, he still has friends to pick up the tab, including Bob Perry, the main money man for Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco. (Boston Globe, Roll Call)

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Intelligence sources say Valerie Wilson was part of an operation three years ago tracking the proliferation of nuclear weapons material intro Iran. And the sources allege that when Mrs. Wilson's cover was blown, the administration's ability to track Iran's nuclear ambitions was damaged as well.

Unfortunate. Like a fly in your chardonnay.

The White House stonewalled for months, and maybe now we'll learn why. From the AP:

The Secret Service has agreed to turn over White House visitor logs that will show how often convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff met with Bush administration officials - and with whom he met.

U.S. District Judge John Garrett Penn last Tuesday approved an agreement between the Secret Service and Judicial Watch, a public interest group, that requires the agency to produce records of Abramoff's visits from Jan. 1, 2001, to the present.

Judicial Watch filed suit in February after the Secret Service failed to respond to its request under the federal Freedom of Information Act....

The visitor logs are to be delivered to Judicial Watch by May 10.

Kids and corruption. I guess they just go together.

We've written before about the DeLay Foundation for Kids, Tom DeLay's charity for foster children that was lavished with corporate generosity while DeLay was in power. The charity served his lavish lifestyle, its fundraisers providing him an excuse to tour the country's finer golf courses, teeing off with lobbyists and eager executives (here's a picture of DeLay with Jack Abramoff at a DeLay Foundation event).

Well, it appears that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. DeLay's operation must have seemed like a mighty good idea to Michael Scanlon, DeLay's former press secretary who pled guilty last year to bribery and fraud charges, because Scanlon formed his own version: the Scanlon Foundation for Kids. The foundation, incorporated in Delaware on December 16, 2002, was registered to the same address as Scanlon's $4 million home on Rehoboth Beach.

Scanlon was no slouch at creating shell companies. His American International Center, formed in early 2001 and also run out of his home, served to launder millions of dollars from Abramoff clients. And Scanlon, of course, worked closely with Abramoff, from whom he could have learned the fine art of the fake charity.

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Last week, CIA Director (and former House intelligence committee chairman) Porter Goss denied news accounts which suggested that he attended parties-of-ill-repute thrown by alleged Cunningham briber Brent Wilkes. The parties centered around poker but, at some point, ladies of the evening are said to have shown up to add to the merriment.

We'll take Goss at his word -- for the moment, anyway. But just which members of Congress did show up at Wilkes' parties?

The San Diego Union-Tribune said "members of the House Appropriations and Intelligence committees" joined CIA officials at Wilkes' shindigs to play cards, eat, drink. . possibly, they stuck around for more.

Of course, dozens of congressmen have served on those panels during the dozen or so years Wilkes threw his parties. But anyone playing at home probably has questions about a few lawmakers in particular -- those known for their ties to Wilkes and their positions of power. We'll call these folks members of Congress with a clear Wilkes predicate.

So we called them and asked: did you ever attend a party thrown by Wilkes?

Their responses:

Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) -- Chaired the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee (which hands out Pentagon pork) from 1999 to 2005. From 1995 to the present, took $51,000 in donations from ADCS and Wilkes -- more than any other lawmaker besides Cunningham.

"He has never attended anything remotely like that," said Lewis' spokesman Jim Specht. "He only know Brent Wilkes through California politics, and never dealt with him in terms of any Washington activities."

Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-CA): Since 1995, took $41,000 from Wilkes/ADCS, right behind Lewis. Has personally pocketed $14,400 from Wilkes. Helped swing an unrequested $37 million Pentagon contract to a Wilkes-owned company. Sits on Appropriations Committee.

Did not return our call.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA): Took $37,000 from Wilkes/ADCS. Repeatedly pushed the Pentagon to contract with Wilkes for inferior products and services the department said it did not want or need.

"The congressman has never been to a party with Brent Wilkes," spokesman Joe Casper told me. "In fact, Congressman Hunter doesn't smoke, drink, and to his own account he's not that much fun at parties."

Responding to press reports late last week that he'd shown up to frat party drunk, Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY) now says that he "wasn't drunk and wasn't even drinking" at the frat party he attended at Union College last month.

So we called up the reporter for the Union College newspaper, John Tomlin, who had described Sweeney in his piece as "openly intoxicated." He stood by his story. Students at the party he spoke to agreed: Sweeney was clearly drunk. And one perceptive student told him not only that Sweeney had been drinking at the party, but that his beverage of choice was a Keystone Light beer. Another student confirmed to us that he'd seen Sweeney drinking beer.

"I distinctly recall being there [at the party] and thinking to myself, 'This guy is drunk,'" Tomlin said. Ha talked to a number of people there, and they agreed.

But I guess you never know. Maybe a room full of frat boys don't know a drunk guy when they see one.

With Americans' attention focused on the civil liberties encroachments coming from the federal level -- the Patriot Act, the Pentagon's domestic surveillance, the FBI's secret warrants -- we've hardly noticed the dangers in our own backyard, U.S. News and World Report says in an important new piece: local police.

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Grand Ole Partier?

Those kids who told the Union College reporter that Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY) was drunk are mistaken, according to Sweeney's spokeswoman:

Sweeney, though, says he wasn't drunk and wasn't even drinking at the frat party. He gives a very different account than the ones written about in the Albany Times Union's blog and the Union College school newspapers, which suggested Sweeney was hammered when he crashed the Delta Phi party. The newspapers' Web sites also included photos of Sweeney with students at the bash looking, well, half in the bag.

"You weren't there, that's speculation," Sweeney's spokeswoman, Melissa Carlson, told HOH. True. And she pointed out that Sweeney "isn't supposed to be drinking" because he's on medication trying to recover from a recent three-week-long hospitalization for a condition doctors believe to be vasculitis, an inflammation of blood vessels in the brain.

"He wasn't drinking," she said, adding, "What's wrong with him stopping by and talking to college kids?"

Sweeney's friend (seen in a couple of the pictures) who accompanied him to the party says that Sweeney had only had "a half a glass of wine" before he went over. He added that Sweeney was "absolutely not" inebriated and he "wasn't slurring his words," as the Union College paper had reported.

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The Post brings us word that Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA), lobbyist shill extraordinaire, is bored to tears about all this corruption hullabaloo:

Doolittle declared that voters have little or no interest in ethics legislation.

"Do I think they care about it? No, I don't," Doolittle told a reporter. Doolittle said that during the April 7-23 recess, he did not hear "anything about Jack Abramoff," the central figure in a lobbying scandal.

Indeed, this seems to constitute a broad Republican strategy of willful disinterest. Nevermind that voters actually do care about corruption. Perhaps if they're told enough times that they don't, they'll start to believe it.