POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES 2/19

The Murtha 104

CQ Politics just released the list of 104 House members who secured earmarks on an appropriations bill managed by Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) to exclusively help a lobbying firm with close ties to Murtha.

An added bonus: Campaign contributions received by each House member from the lobbying firm are also listed.

Burris Lobbying Disclosures Don’t Add Up

CQ Politics has another Burris bombshell: “The names of lobbying clients that Sen. Roland Burris declared to a state legislative panel do not match those on records he filed over the last decade with Illinois and Chicago agencies.”

One Way Bipartisanship

A new AP-GfK poll finds that 62% of Americans believe President Obama is cooperating “about the right amount” with congressional Republicans, while just 27% think the same about the GOP’s work with Obama.

Conversely, 64% think Republicans are not cooperating enough with Obama, while only 30% believe Obama is not collaborating enough with the GOP.

How Steele Won

Politics magazine looks behind-the-scenes at Michael Steele’s upset win of the RNC Chairmanship last month.

Meanwhile, Steele tells the Washington Times that he intends a “hip-hop” makeover of the Republican Party “to attract younger voters, especially blacks and Hispanics.”

Quote of the Day

“A democracy could not exist because Mohammed already made the perfect law. The Quran is perfect just the way it is, that’s why it is only written in Islamic.”

— Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), quoted by the Daily Nebraskan, obviously not knowing the Quran is written in Arabic.

Palin’s Expense Reports Posted

With news that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) must now pay back taxes on money received while she worked from home, the Anchorage Daily News posts her expense reports for November and December.

The Huffington Post combed through the reports and finds Palin “charged the state of Alaska a $60 per diem expense for an appearance on Fox News on November 9, 2008. A few weeks later, she billed taxpayers another $60 for a ‘phone call with Sen. Elizabeth Dole.’ (Dole had lost her reelection bid weeks earlier). On the 26th of November, Palin again turned in a $60 meal/incidental expense per diem report for ‘Phone call with Gov. Rendell, interview.'”

Republican Governors May Reject Stimulus Money

“A half-dozen Republican governors are considering turning down some money from the federal stimulus package, a move opponents say puts conservative ideology ahead of the needs of constituents struggling with foreclosures and unemployment,” the AP reports. 

Interesting: “Governors who reject some of the stimulus aid may find themselves overridden by their own legislatures because of language Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) included in the bill that allows lawmakers to accept the federal money even if their governors object.”

Sebelius Speculation

First Read on the news that Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) would likely be tapped as secretary of health and human services:

“Our sources won’t yet classify Sebelius as a ‘leading candidate,’ but no one is disputing she’s on the short list for this post. Some in the White House may be a tad spooked by the ‘she’s gonna get it’ reporting because they fear she may not and they will have disappointed her yet again. Sebelius had been seen at one point as a shoo-in for Labor, and then suddenly was passed over. Obviously, the president and the Kansas governor have a good personal relationship, but it could get strained if it looks like she’s being yanked around.”

Marc Ambinder: “White House officials insist on caution when using the term ‘leading.’ But of the two candidates known to be vetted (the other is Tennessee’s Phil Bredesen), only Sebelius has yet to pooh-pooh her own chances.”

Blunt Will Run for Senate

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), “a long-time GOP leader in Congress and head of one of Missouri’s prominent political families, intends to formally declare his candidacy for the U.S. Senate,” the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports.

“On the Democratic side, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan already has declared her candidacy, setting the stage for a high-powered race.”

Coleman Would Need a Miracle

Does Norm Coleman have any chance of retaining his Senate seat? 

Politico: “The answer, according to state political and legal analysts, is that it would take a miracle. Miracles do happen in politics — but four weeks into a court case that will decide the winner of Minnesota’s tortured Senate race, the GOP incumbent is facing just-about-insurmountable hurdles to overcome the 225-vote deficit he was saddled with at the end of the official recount.”

CQ Politics notes Coleman was dealt another major setback in court yesterday.

Orszag Emerges as Key Player

Budget director Peter Orszag’s “emergence as a central figure and key negotiator in the Obama’s economic policy team has come as a bit of a surprise to watchers of the administration,” Politico reports.

Of his work on the economic stimulus bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “In my mind if there is hero in all of this it is Peter Orszag. He was wonderful.”

“Now Orszag is preparing for the biggest week of his career, with a ‘fiscal responsibility’ summit Monday and the release of Obama’s first budget Thursday. He’s signaling that the moves in the stimulus package are just a hint of what to come in a budget that will begin in earnest the arduous process of health care reform.”

Earmark Scandal Breaking

There’s a potentially big story brewing on Capitol Hill…  Apparently 104 members of Congress of both parties — 42 Republicans and 62 Democrats — secured earmarks for a lobbying firm linked to Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) in a single bill. The earmarks were inserted in a bill Murtha controlled as the defense appropriations subcommittee chairman.

The firm’s executives and clients are among Murtha’s biggest sources of campaign contributions. 

UpdateCQ Politics has the story. 

“More than 100 House members secured earmarks for clients of The PMA Group, known for its ties to John P. Murtha, the congressman in charge of Pentagon appropriations… The same House members who took responsibility for PMA’s earmarks in that spending bill have, since 2001, accepted a cumulative $1,815,138 in campaign contributions from PMA’s political action committee and employees of the firm.”

Update II: The complete list of House members involved is now posted.

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