Tag Archives: Nicole Allan

“N” Is For Newtie, That’s Good Enough For Me

John Richardson in Esquire:

She was married to Newt Gingrich for eighteen years, all through his spectacular rise and fall, and here she is in a pair of blue jeans and a paisley shirt, with warm eyes and a big laugh and the kind of chain-smoking habit where the cigarettes burn right down to the filter — but she’s quitting, she swears, any day now.

We’re having breakfast in a seaside restaurant in a Florida beach town, a place where people line up in sandals and shorts. This is the first time she’s talked about what happened, and she has a case of the nerves but also an air of liberation about her. Since he was a teenager, Newt Gingrich has never been without a wife, and his bond with Marianne Gingrich during the most pivotal part of his career made her the most important advisor to one of the most important figures of the late twentieth century. Of their relationship, she says, “We started talking and we never quit until he asked me for a divorce.”

She sounds proud, defiant, maybe a little wistful. You might be inclined to think of what she says as the lament of an abandoned wife, but that would be a mistake. There is shockingly little bitterness in her, and she often speaks with great kindness of her former husband. She still believes in his politics. She supports the Tea Parties. She still uses the name Marianne Gingrich instead of going back to Ginther, her maiden name.

But there was something strange and needy about him. “He was impressed easily by position, status, money,” she says. “He grew up poor and always wanted to be somebody, to make a difference, to prove himself, you know. He has to be historic to justify his life.”

She says she should have seen the red flags. “He asked me to marry him way too early. And he wasn’t divorced yet. I should have known there was a problem.”

Within weeks or months?

“Within weeks.”

That’s flattering.

She looks skeptical. “It’s not so much a compliment to me. It tells you a little bit about him.”

And he did the same thing to her eighteen years later, with Callista Bisek, the young congressional aide who became his third wife. “I know. I asked him. He’d already asked her to marry him before he asked me for a divorce. Before he even asked.”

He told you that?

“Yeah, he wanted to — ”

But she stops. “Hey, turn off the tape recorder for a second. This is going to go places …”

Back in the 1990s, she told a reporter she could end her husband’s career with a single interview. She held her tongue all through the affair and the divorce and even through the annulment Gingrich requested from the Catholic Church two years later, trying to erase their shared past. Now she sits quietly for a moment, ignoring her eggs, trying to decide how far she wants to go.

[…]
ctually, he grew up on a series of Army bases in Kansas, Georgia, France, and Germany. His father was raised by a grandmother who passed off his real mother (Gingrich’s grandmother) as his sister. His mother married his father when she was sixteen, left him a few days later, and struggled with manic depression most of her life. His stepfather was an infantry officer who viewed his plump, nearsighted, flat-footed son as unfit for the Army. By the time he was fifteen, Gingrich dedicated his life, he says, “to understanding what it takes for a free people to survive.” By the time he was eighteen, he was dating his high school geometry teacher. He married her a year later, when he was nineteen and she was twenty-six.It sounds like a complicated childhood, I say.

“It was fabulous.”

Fabulous?

“Lots of relatives, lots of complexity, lots of sugar pies, when I could talk my aunt and grandmother into making them. They had an old-fashioned cast-iron stove where you cut wood…”

Just as Ronald Reagan created an idealized version of an America that never quite existed, so has Newt. And just as Reagan curated a fantasy version of his own life, so, too, has Newt.

Aren’t you sugarcoating it a little bit?

“What do you mean?”

It sounds like a troubled domestic situation.

“It’s troubled if you decide that’s what it is.”

True, you can choose to look at the bright things. But there are also less bright things.

“There are for everybody.”

Yeah, but I’m asking you.

He doesn’t respond.

Both your fathers, the stepfather and the biological one, were angry men.

His expression is flat, and he answers in his scholarly voice, like a professor telling a legend from distant history. “I think by the time I knew Newt, my biological father, he was no longer particularly angry. I think Bob was very tough. But I look back now and I realize that Bob imprinted me in a thousand ways. He taught me discipline, he taught me endurance, he taught me to take the long view, he taught me the notion of teams, he taught me a depth of patriotism, he taught me to be prepared for things not to work — you sleep as often as you can because you don’t know when you’ll be able to sleep again, you drink water when you can because you don’t know when you’ll be able to drink again, you rest as much as you can because you don’t know when you’re going to rest again. If you come out of an infantry, World War II, Korea background, that is how the infantry functions. Well, it turns out that’s pretty good if you’re going to be a politician.”

Sitting in the Florida sun while she annihilates a long series of Benson & Hedges, Marianne Gingrich paints a very different picture. “He didn’t talk to his mother much. He just didn’t have patience with her. And she was pretty drugged up for a long time.”

But he said his childhood was like Norman Rockwell.

She laughs. “You’re kidding. That’s funny. Well, I liked his dad. He was outspoken. He was a down-home, practical kind of guy. But you know, he was a drinker.”

Marianne loves long stories, straight talk, and rueful laughter at the infinity of human foibles. Her eyes go wide when she hears his line about being four to Callista’s five. “You know where that line came from? Me. That’s my line. That’s what I told him.”

She pauses for a moment, turning it over in her mind. Then she shakes her head in wonder. “I’m sorry, that’s so freaky.”

[…]

But other days, Gingrich was bleak and hopeless. He was like a “dead weight” at times like that, Marianne says. You just couldn’t get him to move. The contrast reminded her of his mother and her manic depression, and she told him he needed help.

But Marianne was having problems of her own. After going to the doctor for a mysterious tingling in her hand, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Early in May, she went out to Ohio for her mother’s birthday. A day and a half went by and Newt didn’t return her calls, which was strange. They always talked every day, often ten times a day, so she was frantic by the time he called to say he needed to talk to her.

“About what?”

He wanted to talk in person, he said.

“I said, ‘No, we need to talk now.’ ”

He went quiet.

“There’s somebody else, isn’t there?”

She kind of guessed it, of course. Women usually do. But did she know the woman was in her apartment, eating off her plates, sleeping in her bed?

She called a minister they both trusted. He came over to the house the next day and worked with them the whole weekend, but Gingrich just kept saying she was a Jaguar and all he wanted was a Chevrolet. ” ‘I can’t handle a Jaguar right now.’ He said that many times. ‘All I want is a Chevrolet.’ ”

He asked her to just tolerate the affair, an offer she refused.

He’d just returned from Erie, Pennsylvania, where he’d given a speech full of high sentiments about compassion and family values.

The next night, they sat talking out on their back patio in Georgia. She said, “How do you give that speech and do what you’re doing?”

“It doesn’t matter what I do,” he answered. “People need to hear what I have to say. There’s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn’t matter what I live.”

When they got to court, Gingrich refused to cooperate with basic discovery. Marianne and her lawyer knew from a Washington Post gossip column that Gingrich had bought Bisek a $450 bottle of wine, for example, but he refused to provide receipts or answer any other questions about their relationship.

Then Gingrich made a baffling move. Because Bisek had refused to be deposed by Marianne’s attorney, Newt had his own attorney depose her, after which the attorney held a press conference and announced that she had confessed to a six-year affair with Gingrich. He had also told the press that he and Marianne had an understanding.

“Right,” Marianne says now.

That was not true?

“Of course not. It’s silly.”

During that period, people would come up to Marianne and tell her to settle, that she was hurting the cause.

John Hudson at The Atlantic with the round-up

Dan Amira at New York Magazine:

Herewith, the ten most unflattering things in the profile.10. He lives his life based on weird metaphors about cookies:

“There’s a large part of me that’s four years old,” he tells you. “I wake up in the morning and I know that somewhere there’s a cookie. I don’t know where it is but I know it’s mine and I have to go find it. That’s how I live my life. My life is amazingly filled with fun.”

9. Nobody buys the movies he releases through the group Citizens United.

According to Bruce Nash of Nash Information Services, a company that tracks movie sales, these films — some directed by a man best known for a TV show called Bikes from Hell — are spectacular failures. “The most popular appears to be Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny, which is most likely selling a couple thousand copies a year through major retailers. Rediscovering God in America sells perhaps two thousand units.”

8. His health-care group doesn’t do what it claims it does:

Then there’s the Center for Health Transformation, another group Gingrich runs. On its Web site, it describes its work in Georgia as a model for all its efforts and says the “cornerstone” of its work is a group called Bridges to Excellence. But CHT “had zero role in creating Bridges to Excellence,” says François de Brantes, the group’s CEO. CHT helped with organization for one year and hasn’t been associated with them since 2008. The CHT Web site also singles out the “Healthy Georgia Diabetes and Obesity Project” as its major diabetes effort, but that was news to the American Diabetes Association. “We were not able to find any information about this,” says the ADA’s communications director, Colleen Fogarty. “The person that was in contact with them is no longer here.” It turns out that the CHT is a for-profit outfit that charges big health insurers like Blue Cross and Blue Shield up to $200,000 a year for access to the mind of Newt Gingrich.

7. He started to act crazy after being fined $300,000 by the House Ethics Committee — “yelling at people,” “slurping his food” during meetings, and just not “functioning.”

6. He steals lines from his ex-wife and passes them off as his own:

“[Current wife] Callista and I kid that I’m four and she’s five and therefore she gets to be in charge, because the difference between four and five is a lot.”….

[Ex-wife Marriane’s] eyes go wide when she hears his line about being four to Callista’s five. “You know where that line came from? Me. That’s my line. That’s what I told him.”

She pauses for a moment, turning it over in her mind. Then she shakes her head in wonder. “I’m sorry, that’s so freaky.”

5. He has no “real principles” except the “pursuit of power,” according to former Republican congressman Mickey Edwards, who’s known Newt for 30 years.

4. He doesn’t care about being a hypocrite: After Marianne questioned how he could give a speech on family values while carrying on an affair with his decades-younger aide (who became his third wife), Newt replied, “It doesn’t matter what I do. People need to hear what I have to say. There’s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn’t matter what I live.”

3. He wanted Marianne to just “tolerate” his affair, “an offer she refused.”

2. Regardless, he then announced that, though he’d been having an affair for six years, “he and Marianne had an understanding,” a claim Marianne denies. “Of course not,” she says. “It’s silly.”

1. He delivered divorce papers to his first wife — his former high-school teacher — while she was in the hospital recovering from uterine cancer. He broke things off with his second wife seven months after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Ben Adler at Newsweek:

Gingrich is certainly a savvy political strategist, but he has some serious political liabilities. This is a man, after all, who was carrying on an affair with a young aide while pursuing an impeachment of the president for the same thing. Today Esquire is up with a fabulous profile of Gingrich in all of his contradictions: his dark musings with nasty culture-war overtones, his confounding embrace of some big-government interventions, his family-values rhetoric, and his unusual marital history.

And it exposes how some of Gingrich’s demands for fantastical goals cannot realistically be achieved by the means he proposes. Case in point: Gingrich says President Obama should effectuate a regime change in Iran through tightened sanctions and funding for dissidents. Most Iran experts think the U.S. actually deligitimizes the domestic opposition by supporting them. And if sanctions could topple dangerous Middle Eastern regimes, then why did Gingrich say they were insufficient to deal with Saddam Hussein?

Nicole Allan at The Atlantic:

John H. Richardson’s profile of Newt Gingrich in Esquire paints a fragmented, confusing picture of a fragmented, confusing guy. Richardson’s central source is Gingrich’s second wife, Marianne, whom he divorced in 1999 to marry a congressional aide 23 years his junior. This is apparently the first interview she’s given about her ex-husband since their divorce, a fact Richardson milks for all its worth.

“Back in the 1990s, she told a reporter she could end her husband’s career with a single interview,” Richardson writes at the beginning of his story, implying that the next seven pages contain ten years’ worth of bottled-up, career-ending revelations.

Gingrich certainly does not emerge from the profile looking good, but then again, he didn’t emerge from his 1990s money laundering scandal and resignation from Congress looking good, either. Richardson’s profile is already generating buzz, but ending careers — probably not.

Justin Elliott at Salon:

Newt Gingrich’s ex-wife told Esquire that the former speaker cares more about getting rich than running for president. So we decided to take a closer look at who is funding Gingrich’s primary political committee, a 527 group called American Solutions for Winning the Future. A significant chunk of its funding comes from oil and gas and coal companies and wealthy real estate evelopers, with the rest raised in $100 and $200 increments from conservatives around the country, according to the group’s IRS filings.

American Solutions doesn’t appear to pay Gingrich a direct salary, but it has spent millions on private jets to ferry him and his staff around the country and generally allow him to promote his books and movies. (There are other groups, like Gingrich’s for-profit Center for Health Transformation, that may be paying Gingrich directly, but such information is private.) So far this election cycle, American Solutions has taken in over $20 million, and poured much of it back into fundraising expenses.

We’ve taken a look at the IRS forms that American Solutions files periodically showing what’s coming in and what’s going out. Here are some of the group’s biggest funders:

  • American Electric Power: Michael Morris, the CEO of this Ohio-based power giant, gave $100,000 last year. Along with generating lots of electricity, the company operates the nation’s largest power transmission network, operating over much of the East Coast and Midwest.
  • Plains Exploration and Production Co.: This Houston-based oil and gas company that operates in the Gulf gave $100,000.
  • Workforce Fairness Institute: A Washington, D.C.-based anti-union pressure group, the institute’s own source of funding is not known. It gave $150,000 to Gingrich’s organization this cycle. Its website says it is “funded by and advocates on behalf of business owners who enjoy good working relationships with their employees, and would like to maintain those good relationships without the unfair interference of government bureaucrats, union organizers and special interests.” Mark McKinnon, the longtime GOP operative and Bush aide, has been a spokesman for the institute.
  • Hubbard Broadcasting: Stanley Hubbard, a billionaire GOP donor from Minnesota, gave Gingrich’s group $100,000. He owns radio and TV stations in several states as well as ReelzChannel, a movie news channels on cable.
  • Devon Energy: A huge Oklahoma-based oil and gas production company, it has given American Solutions $250,000.
  • Arch Coal: Based in St. Louis, Arch boasts it provides 16 percent of America’s coal supply from 11 mining complexes around the country. That makes it the second largest coal producer in the country. It gave Gingrich $100,000.
  • Crow Holdings: A privately held Dallas real estate investment firm, it gave Gingrich’s group a whopping $350,000. Harlan Crow, son of the late real estate investor Trammell Crow, is active in a range of conservative causes including the Club for Growth and the American Enterprise Institute. He is a patron of Clarence Thomas and once gave the justice a Bible owned by Frederick Douglass worth $19,000.

Unsurprisingly, given the contributor list, American Solutions has run national TV ads opposing the cap-and-trade bill. But more than anything, the group is a vehicle for self-promotion for Gingrich, one that he benefits from financially.

Anne Laurie:

Please read the whole article. I’ve been extremely scornful of the idea of Gingrich actually running for President, as opposed to fan-dancing (or stripper-poling) a perennial round of first-class speaking junkets and high-visibility media appearances calculated to preserve the Gingrich™ brand’s valuable shelf-space in the Wingnut Welfare Walmart. But Richardson’s reporting suggests that the person most bedazzled and mislead by the non-stop hustling might just be Newton Leroy Gingrich, and that’s a dangerous thing indeed, because there is much further confirmation here that Gingrich is a bullet point on the Powerpoint timeline of Weirdly Charismatic Rightwing Sociopaths, probably the most significant version between Richard Nixon and Sarah Palin. Richardson includes stories of Gingrich’s unsettling behavior just before he resigned the Speakership that read like an opera bouffe version of Nixon during Watergate, and aggregates details of his personal and professional life that make Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes look like a rough draft

Wonkette:

Interesting! Also interesting: Newt Gingrich divorces his wives when they’re in the hospital with life-threatening diseases. And his organizations and money-making schemes since leaving office are pretty shady. Fun!

Time to give this man our presidency cookie.

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DISCLOSE Dissed

Sam Stein at Huffington Post:

Senate Democrats will be one vote down when they consider sweeping campaign finance disclosure legislation this afternoon as Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn) has told party leadership he will miss the vote to attend a friend’s funeral.

The senator’s absence reduces the caucus’s numbers from 59 to 58 voting members, all but assuring that the DICLOSE Act won’t pass when it comes up for a cloture vote Tuesday afternoon. The legislation’s authors were already having difficulty finding a 60th vote to break a likely Republican filibuster. Without Lieberman, they will need two Republicans to cross party lines as opposed to one. Already two of the three most likely defectors — Sens. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) — have said they will oppose the measure.

The concern, said the leadership aide, “is that it will allow [Senator Olympia] Snowe (R-Maine) to vote yes and yet we fall short.”

Lieberman’s office did not immediately return request for comment from the Huffington Post. But a spokesperson confirmed the absence to Fox News.

Ben Smith at Politico:

Senate Democratic leaders have received a commitment from Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut to vote “yes” to invoke cloture on the DISCLOSE Act when he returns after attending a funeral, according to two senior Democratic aides.

UPDATE: Lieberman spokesman Marshall Wittmann confirms: “Sen. Lieberman told Sen. [Harry] Reid this morning that he will vote for the cloture motion, but says he cannot vote for the bill itself in its current form.”

Lieberman hadn’t publicly staked out a position on the controversial campaign finance measure — and he won’t be in the chamber to vote on the cloture motion today — but he told leadership he would be with them in the likely event of a revote later, sources said.

That doesn’t mean that Lieberman will ultimately vote for the measure.

His office had no immediate comment other than to say Lieberman could not be immediately reached.

Greg Sargent:

Senator Ben Nelson’s spokesman, Jake Thompson, confirms that Nelson will vote Yes. “He will vote for cloture on the Disclose Act,” Thompson emails. “It’s all about transparency.”

That removes one more element of suspense. And a quick clarification on what I wrote below: Senator Lieberman is in fact not in the Senate today, so it can’t get the 60 votes it needs today. But here’s where it gets interesting.

Snowe, who is up for reelection in two years and is expected to face blowback if she votes No, can in fact vote Yes today. Because of Lieberman’s absence, she would not be ensuring that it would pass, sparing her the wrath of Mitch McConnell, who is trying to keep the GOP caucus united against it.

But: A senior Dem Senate aide tells me that if Snowe does this, the measure could be brought up for a vote again when Lieberman is present, putting pressure on her to maintain her Yes vote. So again, as long as the odds are, this could still end up passing.

Jacob Sullum at Reason:

Fox News reports that “the DISCLOSE Act appears to stand no chance of passage this session” now that the Republican senators deemed most likely to support the bill, Maine’s Olympia Snow and Susan Collins, have announced their opposition. The Democrats are yet another vote short on today’s motion to proceed with debate because Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) is attending a funeral. And to really rub it in, the AFL-CIO officially turned against the bill today:

William Samuel, director of the union’s government affairs department, makes clear in a strongly-worded statement to members that though the AFL-CIO opposes the measure “reluctantly,” it nevertheless feels the bill “imposes extraordinary new, costly, and impractical record-keeping and reporting obligations on thousands of labor (and other non-profit) organizations,” adding that the bill “would disrupt the operation of thousands of organizations without any corresponding public benefit.”

Previous coverage of the DISCLOSE Act here.

Update: The Democrats fell three votes shy of the 60 needed to advance the bill. The Center for Competitive Politics reacts.

Nicole Allan at The Atlantic:

In a vote that could have a tangible effect on midterm elections in November, the Senate today denied cloture to the DISCLOSE Act, which would increase transparency of corporate spending in political campaigns. With the August recess drawing nearer and midterm elections around the corner, this vote has been built up as a political play for both sides. Democrats want to discourage corporate backing of Republican candidates, and Republicans want to smooth the way for corporate donors as midterm campaigns heat up.

Obama rallied for the bill in a Rose Garden speech yesterday, chiding Republicans for obstructing its passage. “You would think that reducing corporate and even foreign influence over our elections would not be a partisan issue,” Obama said. “But of course this is Washington in 2010.”

Democrats needed 60 votes today to ensure that the bill would reach the floor for debate. Nebraska’s Ben Nelson, who voted against the McCain-Feingold campaign finance act in 2002, had his fellow Democrats on their toes until his spokesman announced this morning that he would vote yes. Republicans Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Scott Brown were all potential yes votes that did not come through. John McCain, despite his prior advocacy of campaign finance reform, voted no. Without a single Republican vote, Democrats could not reach 60.

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Jackson Pollack And Groucho Marx Comparisons Abound, Part II

Eric Lipton at NYT:

A House investigative panel has found “substantial reason to believe” that Representative Charles B. Rangel violated a range of ethics rules, dealing a serious blow to Mr. Rangel, a Harlem Democrat, in the twilight of his political career.

The finding means that the 80-year-old congressman must face a public trial before the House ethics committee, the first member to be forced to do so since 2002, when former Representative James A. Traficant Jr. was expelled from Congress after taking bribes.

The investigative panel did not disclose any details about the nature of the violations.

But two Democrats with knowledge of the investigation said the committee found evidence to support accusations that Mr. Rangel wrongly accepted four rent-stabilized apartments in Manhattan and misused his office to preserve a tax loophole worth half a billion dollars for an oil executive who pledged a donation for an educational center being built in Mr. Rangel’s honor.

The committee also found evidence to support a charge that Mr. Rangel failed to report or pay taxes on rental income from his beachfront Dominican villa.

Jay Newton-Small at Swampland at Time:

The last time such an open process was used was for former Rep. James Traficant, an Ohio Democrat who was expelled from the House in 2002 for taking bribes, racketeering, filing false tax returns and forcing aides to perform household chores on his Ohio farm and DC houseboat (which was, coincidentally, parked not far from Duke Cunningham’s houseboat). Traficant served seven years in prison and is now a radio host in Ohio. He recently filed papers to make an independent run for his old seat.

Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay skipped such a step when his ethics investigation went right from the exploratory phase to admonishment — a first in ethics committee history.

Rangel first asked the committee two years ago to look into newspaper allegations that he’d failed to report income from a Caribbean rental, that he used Congressional letterhead to solicit donations for a charity in his name and that he broke New York rent subsidy laws. The alleged tax lapses were particularly worrisome as the chairman of the Ways & Means Committee is Congress’s top tax writer. Politico reported that Rangel was seen arguing with ethics committee chair Zoe Lofgren shortly before today’s announcement was made. Zofgren had, reportedly, been encouraging Rangel to follow a DeLay route and skip the adjudicatory process. As of August 2009, Rangel had spent more than $1 million in legal fees defending his actions to the committee. If he’s found in violation of House rules the committee’s evidence could be turned over to prosecutors to pursue a criminal case

James Richardson at Redstate:

In the same way that Republican ethics violations loomed large in the 2006 midterm elections that saw the House of Representatives change hands, Rangel’s ethics misdeeds threaten to undermine Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s pledge to run the “most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in History.”

But for now, the specific nature of charges against Rangel remain unknown — and will likely remain as such until next Thursday when he makes his case to the ethics panel. In the meantime, a list–that is, unfortunately, in no way comprehensive–of the 80-year-old lawmaker’s ethics lapses:

  • Violating New York state and city zoning laws, Rep. Rangel rented in 2008 several rent-stabilized Harlem apartments and used one for a base of operations for his reelection effort.
  • Days later it was revealed Rangel had used congressional letterhead to solicit funds for his personal foundation, the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service.
  • The following month, in August of 2008, the New York Post reported that Rangel had failed to disclose income from renting his beachfront villa on a Dominican Republic resort. In total, Rangel failed to disclose $75,000 in rental income since 1988. Rangel secured a seven-year fixed rate loan at 10.5 % for the property, but two years later the interest on the loan, which was awarded by a company for which the congressman was an early investor, was waived. Rangel paid $10,800 in back-taxes for his 2004, 2005 and 2006 tax returns for the unreported rental income.
  • Rangel violated House rules and failed to report income to the IRS when he left his 1972 Mercedes in a House parking lot for several years without registering the car. The car, without license plates and covered by a tarp, occupied a space for several years valued a $290 per month.
  • In November 2008, the Post’s muckrakers discovered that Rangel had improperly received a “homestead” tax exemption on a property he owned in Washington, D.C., while occupying his four rent-stabilized apartments in New York City.
  • Rangel secured tax benefits for a company whose chief executive he was courting as a donor for his private foundation.
  • And most recently, a House panel admonished the scandal-plagued congressman for wrongly accepting reimbursements for two Caribbean trips in 2007 and 2008.

Mary Katherine Ham at The Weekly Standard:

Rangel’s lawyer tried to settle but was rebuffed. The man who writes the tax law you must follow

Gateway Pundit

Allah Pundit:

This is five months in the making, starting with his admonishment back in February over staff members having accepted free trips to the Caribbean and culminating a week later in his removal from Ways and Means — albeit supposedly only on a temporary basis. Anyone think he’ll be returning to the committee after this, even if he beats the rap?

The next step is a trial by subcommittee. Given that the most ethical Congress ever had a decidedly lackluster reputation on ethics until now, I wonder how much pressure for and against charging Rangel there is on the Democratic side. On the one hand, this is going to push ethics back on the campaign menu. On the other, if they beat up on Rangel, it makes them look forthright. Stand by for updates.

Jim Newell at Gawker:

While nothing short of a mobilized Allied army seems capable of forcing Rep. Charlie Rangel out of Congress, the House ethics committee will charge him with official ethics violations, essentially setting up a trial — the first in eight years.The violations have not been officially filed yet, so the specific violations they’re pursuing out of his career’s 10 billion worth aren’t fully clear. Probably related to this stuff, though, which people who’ve followed Rangel’s investigation are quite familiar with:

The committee had been investigating claims that Mr. Rangel improperly rented four rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem at a price well below market value, despite rules forbidding House members from accepting gifts worth more than $50.

It also had been investigating allegations that he improperly used his office to provide legislative favors for an oil-drilling company that pledged a $1 million donation for an academic center named for Mr. Rangel and improperly failed to report taxable income received from a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic.

Maybe we’ll get something else, though? Something a little more blog-friendly? Sex, maybe?

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin

Ed Morrissey

Nicole Allan at The Atlantic

Jesse Zwick at The Washington Independent

UPDATE #3: Steve Krakauer at Mediaite

Ed Morrissey

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How Much Lesbian Bondage Will Seven Million Dollars Buy?

Ralph Hallow at The Washington Times:

The Republican National Committee failed to report more than $7 million in debt to the Federal Election Commission in recent months – a move that made its bottom line appear healthier than it is heading into the midterm elections and that also raises the prospect of a hefty fine.

In a memo to RNC budget committee members, RNC Treasurer Randy Pullen on Tuesday accused Chairman Michael S. Steele and his chief of staff, Michael Leavitt, of trying to conceal the information from him by ordering staff not to communicate with the treasurer – a charge RNC officials deny.

Mr. Pullen told the members that he had discovered $3.3 million in debt from April and $3.8 million from May, which he said had led him to file erroneous reports with the FEC. He amended the FEC filings Tuesday.

Campaign-finance analysts said that simply misreporting fundraising numbers to the FEC can lead to millions of dollars in fines and that criminal charges can be levied if the actions are suspected to be intentional.

“This is significant because the civil penalties could mean big fines that take a significant bite out of the RNC‘s finances close to the November congressional elections, when state parties need the RNC‘s financial help for their ‘victory’ programs,” said former FEC Commissioner Hans A. von Spakovsky.

Ben Smith at Politico:

MEMORANDUM

To: Members of the Republican National Committee

From: Tom Josefiak, HoltzmanVogel PLLC Michael Toner, Bryan Cave LLP

Date: July 21, 2010

Re: Correction of Misinformation Regarding RNC Debt

As outside counsel to the Republican National Committee, we write this memorandum to address concerns raised by some RNC members based on media stories this morning claiming that the RNC has improperly failed to report $7 million of debt. These reports are extraordinarily misleading. As reflected on the monthly report the RNC filed yesterday, which covers the month of June, the RNC had approximately $2 million in unpaid invoices at the end of the month, which were completely paid in the first half of July. In other words, as reflected on that report, all of this debt – as well as the debt reflected on the amended reports for April and May – has been paid off. Contrary to the hyperbolic claims in the media reports, the RNC has not at any time carried $7 million of debt, and all the debts at issue have been paid.

The RNC seeks to scrupulously comply with all FEC reporting regulations, including those that govern the reporting of debts and obligations. With the arrival of a new Chief of Staff and Finance Director several months ago, the RNC began a thorough review of invoices and contracts to ensure the legitimacy of billings, the extent of services provided in connection with those billings, and the overall fiscal discipline of the Committee. Also at the direction of Chairman Steele, the RNC has conducted a thorough internal procedures review, which has included a careful review of invoices received and paid to further ensure that the RNC’s monthly FEC reports are as comprehensive and accurate as possible. As a result of these efforts, the RNC is confident that these protocols ensure not only that the invoices reflect services actually provided to the RNC but also that the information concerning payments by the RNC is timely and accurately reported.

It is unfortunate that misinformation concerning internal RNC procedures has been somehow disseminated to the media, as the spreading of these inaccuracies operates to the grave detriment of the RNC. Contrary to today’s media accounts, the RNC has been and will remain committed to accurate FEC reporting, transparency, and fiscal discipline with its donors’ money.

Nicole Allan at The Atlantic

Ed Morrissey:

How serious is the problem?  The RNC quickly retained former FEC chair Michael Toner as their attorney, a high-priced move that Hans von Spakowsky — another former FEC commissioner — called “unusual and significant,” according to the Washington Times.  The fines for failing to report debt on time can run into seven figures and could seriously impact the ability of the GOP to support candidates in the waning days of the midterm elections, if immediately imposed.

Perhaps even more disturbing is what prompted Pullen to double-check the books.  The fundraising numbers have fallen well below goals set by the RNC, but the cash on hand figures kept increasing past expectations.  Supposedly this came from better efficiency in operations and cost-cutting, but last month Pullen got suspicious and rechecked invoices, payment for which had slipped significantly.  Pullen claims that Steele attempted to block his access to the data and that Leavitt locked the invoices in his office; Steele denies that charge.

If Pullen’s claims turn out to be true, it’s a potential disaster for the RNC and Republican candidates, and not just because of the restricted cash flow.  The GOP has been arguing that they are the party of fiscal responsibility and reform.  The DNC will have a field day with this story.

Steve Benen:

Right. What makes this story serious is the fact that it has multiple angles, all of them bad news for the RNC. We have (1) the in-fighting among RNC officials, with the chairman going up against his own treasurer; (2) potentially illegal accounting tricks; (3) weak RNC fundraising in advance of a critical election season that necessitated the illegal accounting tricks; (4) another distracting scandal for Steele to deal with, just a few weeks after the last one; and (5) the fact that the controversy itself steps all over the Republican message of fiscal responsibility.

Doug Powers at Michelle Malkin’s place:

Seven million dollars? Sounds like somebody made over 3,500 more trips to Voyeur West Hollywood.

My relationship with the RNC is a little like Al Pacino’s famous line in Godfather III, except in reverse: Just when I thought I was in, they push me back out.

There need to be changes at the top of the RNC chain, and fast. Hand out leather hoods, ball gags and whips as severence pay if need be, but clean house at the top and find somebody able to lead the RNC so the Republicans it supports don’t look stupid and hypocritical when they speak of “fiscal responsibility.”

In a year where the base is motivated and the RNC should be cash heavy heading into an election that will determine the future of the country, they’ve run up a debt and may have tried some bookkeeping sleight of hand to make things look not as bad as they are. Sounds like the kind of thing that has gotten America in deep trouble already, doesn’t it?

The RNC coffers should be overflowing more than the coin tray in the White House’s ice cream cone/cigarette/arugula vending machine, but they’re not. Explanations are in order.

A recent RNC internal report showed that the party’s major donors program was spending $1.09 for every $1 raised. What a great way to convince voters (and major donors for that matter) to give them the keys to DC so they can lead America out of its fiscal hole.

Wonkette:

Can we get Tom Vilsack to fire Michael Steele? Yeah, he doesn’t have any justification for firing Steele either, but this is just getting sad.

Just fire him, Republicans. If you are worried about the black thing, hire Alan Keyes. Certainly he is available. YES, he may be a bit crazy, but you have to at least try somebody else

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The Getting Back Of One’s Life Is Best Done On A Boat Named Bob

Joshua Green:

In a classic Friday afternoon news dump, BP has apparently demoted the bumbling Tony Hayward. According to the New York Times:

A day after he came under relentless attack at a Congressional hearing, BP chief executive Tony Hayward was displaced as the man in charge of the company’s response to the spill.

This move might have made sense a month ago, when it first became clear that Hayward had been born, tragically, without a smidgen of self-awareness. But after yesterday’s performance before Congress, I’m not so sure this is justified or wise for BP: whatever Jedi mind trick Hayward employed to compel Joe Barton’s apology seems like a most useful asset. Most of the reaction today wasn’t about “evil BP” but about what a blinkered moron Barton was for apologizing. If I were running BP, I wouldn’t be so quick to give that up.

Nicole Allan at The Atlantic:

After his grueling testimony before Congress yesterday, BP CEO Tony Hayward is being moved out of the limelight. Carl-Henric Svanberg, chairman of the company, has announced that Hayward will no longer be overseeing day-to-day clean-up operations in the Gulf. He will return to England while BP’s managing director, Robert Dudley, takes over the company’s spill response effort.

Dudley’s appointment is a clear attempt on BP’s part to re-brand its reaction to the spill. He grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and often spent summers on the Gulf Coast. He has expressed horror at the damage the spill has levied on the region and lends a more sympathetic, in-touch, and, significantly, American presence to BP’s leadership team.

Hayward, on the other hand, has been pegged as an arrogant, unfeeling Brit. The American media slammed his cold, complacent demeanor at yesterday’s hearing, but the U.K. papers took a different stance. The Daily Mail ran a story titled, “Sliced and Diced on Capitol Hill: BP Boss Treated Like Public Enemy No. 1 by American Politicians,” while the Daily Express compared the hearing to a “public execution.” Hayward has not done much to endear himself to the reeling residents of the Gulf Coast, notoriously saying that he wants to get the spill under control because he’d “like [his] life back.”

Brian Merchant at Treehugger:

Of course, Hayward’s dismissal from US public operations, means little to the elements of the spill that truly matter — like stopping it, for starters. Whether or not Hayward is around to make an ass of himself and his company probably has little bearing on how the cleanup effort is orchestrated (though if his public remarks have been any indicator, his common sense may be, well, lacking …).

Regardless, the well keeps on gushing oil, crude continues to make landfall, and life around the Gulf continues to be threatened. So let’s all bid our pal Tony adieu — I mean, the poor guy is finally getting his life back.

Danny Groner at Huffington Post:

With word that Hayward is out as a spokesperson, bloggers delivered the expected and necessary snark upon word of his dismissal. They did their jobs in eerily similar ways, taking Hayward’s words and using them against him. Here, a collection of some of the headlined punch lines being hurled at the executive:

“Tony Hayward, BP CEO, gets his life back, no longer in charge of running Gulf cleanup operations”- New York Daily News

“Tony Hayward Gets His Life Back”-Time

“Rejoice: BP’s Tony Hayward Will Get His Life Back”-Gawker

“Tony Hayward Gets His Life Back”-DealBreaker

“BP’s Hayward ‘Gets Life Back’ in Demotion”-NewsMax

“BP CEO Tony Hayward Relieved Of Day-To-Day Gulf Duties, Gets Life Back”-Mediaite

“BP CEO Tony Hayward Does Not Want His Life Back Anymore”-New York magazine

Here’s hoping Carl-Henric Svanberg steps down and in turn gets repeatedly labeled a “small person” for it.

Joe Coscarelli at The Village Voice:

For Tony Hayward, after dealing with the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history every day for 60 days, it’s vacation time. He’s currently attending a yacht race around England’s Isle of Wight, where his 52-foot boat named “Bob” is participating. “He’s spending a few hours with his family at a weekend. I’m sure that everyone would understand that,” said a BP spokesperson, insisting it was Hayward’s first break since the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig April 20. Sixty days and nights! As for the race, Hayward is “well known to have a keen interest in it.” Straws, camels, backs, etc. Tony, get used to vacation. Though it seemed like Hayward’s time running (ruining?) operations in the Gulf of Mexico was over, today it’s merely a brief reprieve, according to the New York Times:

BP officials scrambled on Saturday to say that Tony Hayward, their embattled chief executive, was still in charge of all BP operations in spite of comments from the company’s chairman the day before indicating that Mr. Hayward was relinquishing his duties in the Gulf of Mexico.

Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Shit Sandwich, called it “part of a long line of PR gaffes and mistakes.” At this point, the only question remaining is how many hours until the official Hayward-getting-yanked announcement comes through. Or if someone’s going sink his boat. “To quote Tony Hayward, he’s got his life back,” Emanuel continued.

If Hayward is around when I am next Saturday, I’ll eat my shoe and put it on YouTube.

Jeff Neumann at Gawker

Hugh Collins at Politics Daily:

The race’s website describes it as a “great opportunity to watch world-renowned sailors racing against families and first time racers.” Every boat receives a memento to mark the race and there are over 60 prizes up for grabs, according to the website.

Hayward’s boat finished fourth in its class, Fox News reported.

“This will be seen as yet another public relations disaster for him from people who have got exceedingly upset about this whole thing,” Hugh Walding of the environmental organization, Friends of the Earth, said, according to The Daily Mail. “He should at least be managing the image of the company better.”

Yesterday, BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said that Hayward would be taking a back seat in the Gulf clean-up operation. Svanberg acknowledged that some of Hayward’s comments in the aftermath of the disaster had harmed the company.

“It is clear Tony has made remarks that have upset people,” Svanberg told Sky News.

Hayward’s blunders include downplaying the size of the spill by saying, “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean” and commenting that growing health problems among clean-up workers may be related to food poisoning, rather than their exposure to crude oil and dispersants.

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