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DeLay and Energy Companies: Best Friends Forever (At a Price)

For the first time since the House lobbying scandals broke, a company has said they were told that a contribution to Majority Leader Tom DeLay's political action committee TRMPAC would curry them favor with him and help them influence legislation.

Sushi with a Side of Scandal

According to Glen Justice in today's New York Times, scandalized lobbyist Jack Abramoff's upscale restaurant Signatures might not be bustling now, but in its heyday, it was filled with high-powered elected officials and well-heeled lobbyists.

For example, Justice cites an e-mail that Abramoff wrote to his restaurant managers in May 2002 which gives instructions on how to handle VIP Majority Leader Tom DeLay and his wife.

Wait, There's More

In a bizarre new twist on the Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) scandal, Fox News reports that when the House Ethics Committee finally gets itself together and investigates Cunnigham, Democrats are expected to bring up Top Gun Enterprises, Inc., a business the Congressman owns that cashes in on his former life as a Top Gun pilot for the U.S. Navy.

Harris and MZM Inc.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports that Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL), who recently announced her intention to run for Senate, has offered to return campaign contributions she received from MZM Inc., the defense contractor who bought scandalized California Republican Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunnigham's mansion at an allegedly inflated price.

The sale is currently the subject of a federal grand jury investigation in Southern California.

Playing Politics with Ethics: Lots to Report

"The House ethics committee is back in business," according to The Hill today.

It was reported that Committee Chair Doc Hastings (R-WA) and Ranking Member Alan Mollahan (D-W.Va.) have reached an agreement over staffing the committee, an impasse that has rendered the committee useless for several months.

CREW Calls for Citizen-Filed Ethics Complaints

In the wake of the scandals surrounding Reps. Tom DeLay (R-TX), Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) and Bob Ney (R-OH), Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) has called for an independent investigation into the House Ethics Committee, which has failed to act in any of these cases.

Four Watchdog Groups, Constituents Call on Hastert to Appoint Outside Counsel

Public Campaign today partnered with Common Cause, Public Citizen, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and two dozen of Rep. Hastert's constituents in calling on the Speaker of the House to appoint an outside counsel to investigate the House lobbying scandals surrounding Reps. DeLay, Cunningham, Ney and others.

You can read the full letter that was faxed to Hastert here.

Statement by Nick Nyhart, Executive Director, Public Campaign, Calling On Speaker Hastert to Appoint an Outside counsel

Let me put this in a way that former wrestling coach and current Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert will understand: On top of everything else that has happened, with the news that the House Ethics Committee chair, Doc Hastings failed to disclose travel paid for by a corporation whose employees were his top source of campaign money, it’s clear that the ethics committee has about as much credibility these days as the recent “Wrestlemania 21 Goes to Hollywood.”

In a word, it has none.

More Bad News for Hastings

It seems to be one thing after another for House Ethics Committee Chair Doc Hastings (R-WA). First, it's revealed that he had "close connections" to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff's Seattle-based lobbying firm, and had even taken thousands of dollars in campaign contributions.

Golf & Corporate Scandals: The Republican Baseball & Apple Pie

The lure of the green might be too much for most Republicans to handle, according to a recent article by Michael Crowley for With all of the talk of money in politics and lobbyist-funded luxury getaways these days, you might think I'm talking about money. But no, in this case it is the lure of the golf course.