Archive for October, 2006

I would like to congratulate my friends in the DC band the reserves, for finishing their first album. They’ve scheduled a release party/performance at Iota Club and Cafe this Friday. I’ve seen them several times in bars and clubs around DC, and on one weekend trip up to New York City and friendship aside, I can vouch that they are good. You can pick up the album on iTunes or CD Baby. Check them out.


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Posted: October 31, 2006 in 2006 Elections, Media


Nelson Sweeps Editorial Endorsements

By Larry Lipman | Sunday, October 29, 2006, 11:26 PM

There are 22 daily newspapers in Florida.

All 22 have endorsed Bill Nelson for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

The first was The Palm Beach Post, the latest two on Sunday were The Orlando Sentinel and the Jacksonville-based Florida Times-Union.

The only newspaper that has endorsed Republican candidate Harris is ironically named the Polk County Democrat, published four days a week in Harris’ girlhood hometown, Bartow.

Would you want one of these in your congressional district?


Schmidt considers nuke waste

This doesn’t happen every day: An incumbent member of Congress, in the middle of a re-election battle, says that storing nuclear waste shipments from around the world in her district may be a good idea.

U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt does say that, and her support for studying the idea has become an issue in her re-election campaign, especially in rural Pike County, in the far eastern end of her sprawling Southern Ohio District, where the nuclear wastes would be stored.

“I’m not advocating for it one way or the other,” Schmidt told The Enquirer. “I’m saying it is something we need to look at.”

Schmidt said she sees potential to create “hundreds, maybe thousands of jobs” in an economically distressed part of the state, where double-digit unemployment rates are the norm.

Schmidt has signed on to an effort by the Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative (SODI) and a Cleveland-based company called SONIC to seek a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant of up to $5 million for a study of whether the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion plant should be a site for temporary storage and recycling of spent nuclear fuel rods. The 3,400-acre site near Piketon produced highly enriched uranium through the Cold War years for military purposes and for civilian reactors until 2001, when that activity was consolidated at the similar Paducah plant.

A decision on the grant could come this week.

The idea of nuclear waste storage on a site that is still being cleaned up from its previous use has infuriated environmentalists and neighbors of the plant in Pike County and nearby Scioto County, prompting a communitywide petition drive and vows to fight the storage plan to the bitter end.

That and the fact that Schmidt’s Democratic opponent, Victoria Wulsin of Indian Hill, has come out against the idea, mean that the issue could have an impact on Schmidt’s re-election – meaning it could help determine who represents 650,000 constituents from Greater Cincinnati to Portsmouth.

“All I can tell you is that when it became known that she supports this, every Jean Schmidt yard sign in the county went down overnight,” said Geoffrey Sea, a writer whose home abuts the Piketon plant.

While in most towns and congressional districts, outside business investors coming in is usually considered a good thing, I have no idea why the hell Schmidt thought it would be a good idea to have a nuclear waste facility in her district. Maybe she’s getting campaign advice from Mr. Burns? Yucca Mountain is a no-brainer for people and politicians in Nevada, regardless of their political stripes. In a close re-election race, a gaffe like this could be costly for Schmidt.

NOTE: The photo is of a radioactive waste facility in Chernobyl, taken by a Ukrainian TV news station.

Another October surprise, this one possibly bigger in impact than the one in the Florida governor’s race because if it becomes an issue in the Kean-Menendez race, it could affect which party controls the Senate next year.

Menendez added to corruption lawsuit
Friday, October 27, 2006


Complete coverage: Election 2006

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez has been added as a defendant in an ongoing lawsuit being brought against Hudson County by a Union City psychiatrist.

The revised federal suit, filed Wednesday by psychiatrist Oscar Sandoval, says that Menendez, as a congressman in the late 1990s, spearheaded a coordinated campaign by Hudson County officials to squeeze political donations and favors from Sandoval, a county contractor.

Sandoval is a controversial figure who was ensnared in a Hudson County corruption investigation that led to the conviction of former County Executive Robert Janiszewski in 2003.

Political pressure

The suit accuses Menendez and his political allies of pressuring Sandoval to give political contributions as a condition of keeping his psychiatric services contracts with Hudson County — and a condition of getting new ones. The pressure came after they learned that the psychiatrist was an FBI informant in the Janiszewski corruption probe, the suit says.

The lawsuit also hitches Bergen County to the tangled ordeal. It claims that Menendez was playing a behind-the-scenes role in 1999 in awarding a contract to provide psychiatric services to the Bergen County Jail. The psychiatrist who made the proposal, however, did not get a contract.

The legal accusations come in the final sprint of an acrimonious — and close — U.S. Senate race between Menendez and Republican Tom Kean Jr., who has made Menendez’s ethics the central issue in his campaign.

An October surprise in the Florida governor’s race, perhaps?

Crist Denies Trysts
GOP frontrunner: I have never had sex with a man
By Bob Norman

A young rising star in the Republican Party has boasted to witnesses of his sexual relationship with Charlie Crist, the frontrunner in the Florida governor’s race who has repeatedly denied that he is gay.

The GOP staffer, 21-year-old Jason Wetherington, told friends at separate social functions in August that he had sex with Crist, according to two credible and independent sources who heard Wetherington make the claim first-hand.

Wetherington, who recently worked as a field director for U.S. Senate candidate Katherine Harris and currently works for state representative Ellyn Bodganoff’s reelection campaign, also named a man whom he said is Crist’s long-term partner, a convicted thief named Bruce Carlton Jordan who also recently worked for Harris in her long-shot Senate bid.

Jordan made headlines recently when the Miami Herald learned that the felon was working as Harris’s travel aide. The newspaper noted that Jordan, 42, was reported to be close friends with Charlie Crist, whom he convinced to attend an annual Florida Funeral Directors Association meeting in 2003.

Jordan was charged in 2003 with stealing thousands of dollars from two organizations for whom he worked, including the Tallahassee-based Florida Funeral Directors Association, where he served as executive director. He completed a 60-day jail sentence in February and will be on probation until the year 2011, according to state records.

When the Herald questioned Crist about Jordan this past August, the frontrunner in the governor’s race told the newspaper that he doesn’t remember the man. “I don’t know who Bruce Jordan is,” he said at the time. “It doesn’t mean I haven’t met him. I don’t know who you are speaking about.”

I asked Crist during a phone interview on Monday morning if he had ever had sex with Jordan.

“No,” he said. “I don’t recall the name.”

I’ve seen no poll evidence indicating Crist is losing support in the Florida governor’s race over this. However, the fact that Crist is even being forced to deny it isn’t good for him politically. If the allegations are true, then in post-Mark Foley Florida it might become an issue. Not only that, but the man believed to be his partner is a convicted felon and he’s denying [not very convincingly I think, if you read further into the article] any ties to him.

The first judicial victim of the Abramoff scandal gets jail time.

A federal judge sentenced a former Bush administration official to 18 months in prison in the Jack Abramoff lobbying case Friday — after delivering a 30-minute eulogy for good government in Washington.

“There was a time when people came to Washington because they thought government could be helpful to people,” said U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman. “People came to Washington asking not what government could do for them and their friends but what they could do for the public.”

David Safavian, the former chief of staff for the General Services Administration, was sentenced on obstruction and concealment charges for lying to investigators about his relationship with Abramoff.

Safavian wept in court as he asked for leniency, but Friedman said the ex-bureaucrat had become part of Washington’s culture of corruption, where congressmen listen to campaign donors and lobbyists while farming out to staff members the job of writing laws.

Abramoff, the once-powerful lobbyist, shook Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House when he pleaded guilty to corruption in January and began cooperating with an FBI investigation.

The Justice Department and FBI are just getting warmed up. They got Bob Ney to plead guilty, and they gave Abramoff a desk at the FBI because he is cooperating so much (and presumably dishing out the dirt on anything and anybody he had dealings with). The Abramoff story is not over by a long shot. Safavian was small-time, the feds are still going after the big fish.

Note: The title of this post is a lyric from Interpol’s song “Specialist.”

This came out today from the National Security Archive:

Washington D.C., October 26, 2006 – A CIA panel of experts concluded in 1997 that North Korea was likely to collapse within five years, according to declassified documents posted today on the Web by the National Security Archive. This “Endgame” exercise of former U.S. policymakers, intelligence officers and outsider experts warned that the North Korean regime could not remain “viable for the long term,” with the majority doubting the “current, deteriorating status could persist beyond five years.” Citing the “steady, seemingly irreversible economic degradation in the North,” the panel concluded that “the current situation in North Korea appears beyond corrective actions that do not fundamentally threaten the regime’s viability.”

Was that a slam dunk too, George?

Only in an election season as wacky as this one [a quasi-sex scandal, a nuclear test, multiple FBI investigations, and an administration reversal on Iraq policy and rhetoric] would this not be getting more play in the media.

So many investigations, so little time… At the rate they’re going, the FBI, Justice Department, and every other law enforcement agency in the country might as well open a Capitol Hill field office.

WASHINGTON – A land deal involving Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., is being scrutinized by the U.S. attorney’s office in Arizona, a law enforcement official in Washington said Tuesday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity while the inquiry is ongoing, said the investigation has been under way for a few months and is still in its very early stages.

The official did not specify what land deal was under investigation.

A spokesman for the Arizona U.S. attorney, Paul Charlton, said he could not confirm or deny an investigation was under way.

Renzi also declined to comment, referring questions to his lawyer, former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods. The lawyer late Tuesday said Renzi was not aware of any investigation and had not been contacted by the U.S. attorney’s office.

At least one transaction involving Renzi has raised questions in Arizona recently.

Records and officials involved in the October 2005 deal say Renzi helped promote the sale of land that netted a former business partner $4.5 million.

Singing Like a Canary

Posted: October 23, 2006 in Uncategorized

This can’t be good news for people on the periphery or in the thick of the Abramoff investigation.

From US News & World Report:

Jack Abramoff, the lobbying scandal figure, has become such a chatty rat that probe insiders say he’s been given a desk to work at in the FBI. We’re told he spends up to four hours a day detailing his shady business to agents eager to nail more congressmen in the scandal. And when cooperative witnesses spend that much time inside, they get a desk. As a result of his help in the ever expanding investigation, we hear that the Feds hope to keep him in a nearby prison after he’s sentenced on his conspiracy admission.

According to Time magazine, Jane Harman is the most recent lawmaker to have an FBI problem.

Did a Democratic member of Congress improperly enlist the support of a major pro-Israel lobbying group to try to win a top committee assignment? That’s the question at the heart of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and Justice Department prosecutors, who are examining whether Rep. Jane Harman of California and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) may have violated the law in a scheme to get Harman reappointed as the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, according to knowledgeable sources in and out of the U.S. government.

The sources tell TIME that the investigation by Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has simmered out of sight since about the middle of last year, is examining whether Harman and AIPAC arranged for wealthy supporters to lobby House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Harman’s behalf.

Regardless of the validity of the allegations, this should provide the GOP ammunition to offset attacks by Democrats on ethics and investigation issues during the final stretch of the election season.