Any Media Is Good Media

Unless you are Tom DeLay today, who, on the heels of celebrating the forced votes to deliver us the flurry of pork laden bills last week, this week finds himself in hot water with the FEC. Again:

A political committee founded by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay may have improperly spent unregulated “soft money” on get-out-the-vote and fundraising activities, the Federal Election Commission says. A DeLay attorney said Thursday the money has been reimbursed.

Americans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee “potentially” spent about $203,000 in soft money from its nonfederal account to pay for the political activities and administrative expenses, the FEC found in an audit.

ARMPAC has federal and nonfederal accounts that shared certain expenses. The federal account could contain only money subject to federal contribution limits and from individuals and PACs, or hard money. The nonfederal account was not subject to federal regulation and could accept soft money, which can include contributions from corporations and labor unions.

The FEC audit also found that DeLay’s committee failed to report more than $300,000 in debts owed to 25 vendors and reported its finances erroneously. DeLay attorney Don McGahn said debts were paid but not in the time prescribed by the FEC. The expenses included eight fundraising events, two each held at Four Streams Golf Club in Beallsville, Md., and a resort in Humacao, Puerto Rico, and others in Orlando, Fla., California, New York and Hackberry Creek Country Club in Irving, Texas.

But don’t worry about Tom- he has friends in low places:

Jack Abramoff, the once-powerful Republican lobbyist involved in ethics allegations facing Representative Tom DeLay, was indicted in Florida on Thursday on unrelated fraud charges involving his purchase of a fleet of gambling boats from a businessman who was slain amid bitter wrangling over the sale.

The indictment by a federal grand jury in Fort Lauderdale charges Mr. Abramoff and a business partner with conspiracy and wire fraud in the $147.5 million purchase of the shipping line, SunCruz Casinos, in 2000. They are accused of presenting lenders with a counterfeit document suggesting that they had arranged a $23 million wire transfer to the seller.

‘Restoring honor and dignity’ to the other House on Capitol Hill. More here.

Election Hijinks

This is cute:

Despite a zero-tolerance policy on tampering with voters, the Republican Party has quietly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide private defense lawyers for a former Bush campaign official charged with conspiring to keep Democrats from voting in New Hampshire.

James Tobin, the president’s 2004 campaign chairman for New England, is charged in New Hampshire federal court with four felonies accusing him of conspiring with a state GOP official and a GOP consultant in Virginia to jam Democratic and labor union get-out-the-vote phone banks in November 2002.

A telephone firm was paid to make repeated hang-up phone calls to overwhelm the phone banks in New Hampshire and prevent them from getting Democratic voters to the polls on Election Day 2002, prosecutors allege. Republican John Sununu won a close race that day to be New Hampshire’s newest senator.

At the time, Tobin was the RNC’s New England regional director, before moving to President Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign.

A top New Hampshire Party official and a GOP consultant already have pleaded guilty and cooperated with prosecutors. Tobin’s indictment accuses him of specifically calling the GOP consultant to get a telephone firm to help in the scheme.

“The object of the conspiracy was to deprive inhabitants of New Hampshire and more particularly qualified voters … of their federally secured right to vote,” states the latest indictment issued by a federal grand jury on May 18.

Since charges were first filed in December, the RNC has spent more than $722,000 to provide Tobin, who has pleaded innocent, a team of lawyers from the high-powered Washington law firm of Williams & Connolly. The firm’s other clients include Bill and Hillary Clinton and former Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros.

Oddly enough, the ‘non-partisan’ American Center for Voting Rights had no mention of this in their latest report.

We’ll File This Under Fiscal Conservatism

Yeah, team!

President Bush is signing a whopping $286.4 billion transportation bill that lawmakers stuffed with plenty of cash for some 6,000 pet projects back home.

Bush hit the road Wednesday to sign the highway bill into law in Montgomery, Ill., and tour a Chicago-area plant operated by Caterpillar Inc., which makes heavy equipment. It was the second time this week he’s traveled from his Texas ranch to highlight recently passed legislation.

The House and Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass the six-year highway and mass transit legislation just before heading home for a summer break. They left Washington carrying promises of new highway and bridge projects, rail and bus facilities, and bike paths and recreational trails they secured for their states and districts.

Bush had threatened to veto the bill if the final version was too fat for his liking, and it took nearly two years for Congress to reach a compromise the White House would accept.

”There were a number of members of Congress who wanted a $400 billion highway bill,” Al Hubbard, director of the National Economic Council at the White House, said Tuesday in defending the president’s decision to accept the bill even though it was $30 billion more than Bush recommended.

”Because of this president, it is a $286 billion highway bill,” he told reporters at a briefing following Bush’s meeting with his economic team.

Once again, the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’ rules the day.

“Hey- it could have been a $400 billion bill, but we pared it down to below $300 billion.”

“Hey- we thought the deficit was going to be $450 billion, and it turnsout theeconomy is so good it is only $300 billion.”

This whole line of thought reminds me of an old Cheech and Chong routine:

“I used to smoke [rasp] 20 packs [rasp] of cigarettes [rasp] a day [rasp]. But now that I [rasp] lost a lung [rasp], I cut my smoking [rasp] in half.”

Just go read CAGW’s write-up before my head explodes.

Misplaced Priorities and Power Grabs

More Republican perfidy, as Henry Hyde inserts vague measures into the House version of the Patriot Act that would create massive mandatory minimums for ‘narco-terrorism.’ TalkLeft has the details.

And the War on Drugs War on Your Neighbor® continues in earnest.

Steroid Use- Clinton’s Fault

And just to show that wingnuttery is an equal opportunity offender, this bit of bilious twaddle from Emmett Tyrrell:

In the 1990s, we called this “compartmentalizing.” It was approved by journalists and public figures alike. President Bill Clinton executed his presidential tasks exuberantly day in and day out while retaining subpoenaed documents from prosecutors, coaching witnesses to deceive and lying brazenly to his staff and the public. He compartmentalized, and to this day, there are public figures who admire his sang-froid. They would agree with John Harris’ assessment of him in Harris’ recent encomium, “The Survivor,” as being one of “the two most important political figures of their generation” — the other being, who else, Hillary.

One of Clinton’s most memorable statements that will ring down from the Decade of Illusions is: “I want you to listen to me. I’m going to say this again. I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” The Boy President said that glaring into the cameras on national television and pointing his finger for emphasis. Later he failed his drug test or rather his DNA test. Yet he is still arguing that the statement is somehow true.

Palmeiro is one of Clinton’s finest students. Under oath before a Congressional Committee on March 17, he declared: “I have never used steroids. Period. I do not know how to say it more clearly than that. Never.” He too glared and pointed his finger emphatically. Now that he is suspended after that failed test, he argues with Clintonian indefatigability: “I have never intentionally used steroids. Never. Ever. Period.” The New York Times reports that the steroid he tested positive for is stanozolol. It is unimaginable that an adult would not know that he was taking it. Use of it in 1988 cost Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson his Olympic gold medal.

When asked to comment on this nonsense, Tyrrell replied:

“Life is like a box of Chocolates.”