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Politics, lawsuits entangle financial firm in state January 19, 2009

Posted by trouble97018 in Corruption, Democrats, News, Politics, Repiglicans.
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Courtesy Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

HARRISBURG — The head of a financial company the FBI raided two years ago in an ongoing investigation into “pay-to-play” practices donated more than $400,000 to state officials and political committees, and is accused in two lawsuits of colluding with bankers on municipal bond deals.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission paid the Investment Management Advisory Group of Pottstown, which advises local and state governments on municipal bond deals, about $3.5 million in fees over the past decade, said turnpike spokesman Bill Capone. The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency paid the company, known as IMAGE, $142,500 in 2005 and 2006 for financial advice, an agency spokesman said.

IMAGE had contracts across Pennsylvania with school districts and authorities. The company advised the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority on three financing deals.

David Eckhart, president and managing director of IMAGE, gave $401,950 to state candidates and political committees since 1999, state records show. He donated $67,000 to federal candidates. Records show Eckhart continued to make significant campaign contributions through September 2008.

“Dave’s company has done great work,” said Gene Grabowski, a spokesman for IMAGE. “All these (campaign) contributions do is enhance your chance of being noticed.” He said Eckhart hasn’t donated to campaigns lately.

Eckhart gave $58,000 to a committee controlled by former Republican Party state chairman Bob Asher of Montgomery County; $55,500 to former Sen. Vincent Fumo, D-Philadelphia, who is on trial on corruption charges; $27,000 to Gov. Ed Rendell; $22,500 to U.S. Sen. Bob Casey while he was state treasurer and auditor general; $20,000 to a committee controlled by the late Ron White of Philadelphia, who was indicted in an influence-peddling scheme; and $10,000 to former Gov. Tom Ridge, according to Bureau of Elections documents.

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Absentee Ballots Push Franken Lead to 225 Votes January 4, 2009

Posted by trouble97018 in '08 Election, Democrats, News, Politics, Voting.
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Courtesy FiveThirtyEight.com

Minnesota took until 5 PM today to begin actually counting rejected absentee ballots, as the Canvassing Board sorted through various legal objections, underwent the arduous task of physically opening more than 900 ballots, and then gave the campaigns a chance to review the back of the ballots for identifying marks. Once they finally got underway, however, with election officials calling out the names of the candidates one ballot at a time, Franken went on a long winning streak and essentially never looked back.

All told, Franken gained a net of 176 ballots from the 952 under review according to The Uptake’s unofficial count, putting him 225 votes ahead in the recount overall. Excluding disqualified ballots, Franken won 53.7 percent of the votes counted today, Coleman 34.1 percent, and other candidates 12.4 percent. Franken’s 225-vote advantage is now slightly larger than the one Norm Coleman held before the recount began, when he led by 215 votes based on the certified Election Night tally.

Although the absentee ballots were expected by all observers to help Franken’s prospects, the nearly 20-point margin that he ran up on Coleman today was surprisingly large; two pre-election polls that surveyed absentee voters had Franken winning that group by 8 points and 12 points, respectively. (n.b. Originally missed the Research 2000 poll on this — nrs). It should also be remembered, however, that the Democrats made a large nationwide push for early and absentee voters this year, with Barack Obama overperforming by as many as 20-30 points among those voters in certain states.

The other possibility, of course, is that the Franken campaign did a more effective job of using its veto power on absentee ballots, perhaps by taking better advantage of voter lists.

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Paper projects Franken victory over ColemanCourtesy December 19, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in '08 Election, Democrats, Voting.
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Courtesy Rawstory:

As of Thursday night, GOP Senator Norm Coleman officially maintains a lead over Democratic challenger Al Franken of just five votes, with 5,861 challenged ballots remaining to be counted.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune, having just wrapped it’s own count of the ballots in question, is making a projection:

-Article Continues @ Sourced Site.

Senate recount: Pendulum swings to Franken December 3, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in '08 Election, Democrats, News, Politics, Voting.
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Courtesy Star-Tribune (Minnesota)

The U.S. Senate recount took two abrupt turns Tuesday, both boosting the prospects of DFLer Al Franken.

Franken unexpectedly picked up 37 votes due to a combined machine malfunction and human error on Election Day that left 171 Maplewood ballots safe, secure but uncounted until Tuesday’s final day of recounting in Ramsey County. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s office immediately asked county officials to explain what had happened, and U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman’s campaign said it sent its own experts to Ramsey County to review the situation and said it was “skeptical about [the ballots’] sudden appearance.”

By the end of Tuesday, with 93 percent of the total vote recounted, the Republican’s lead stood at 303 votes with the state Canvassing Board set to finalize results Dec. 16. More than 6,000 ballots have been challenged by the two campaigns, with Coleman challenging 183 more than Franken.

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Lieberman Contributed to GOP Senate, House Candidates November 27, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in '08 Election, Democrats, News, Politics, Repiglicans.
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Courtesy The Washington Post:

Here’s a story of the Thanksgiving spirit, forgiving and forgetting senatorial style.

When Democrats gathered last week to decide the fate of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), a pair of senators-elect, Tom Udall of New Mexico and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, stepped up to offer symbolically important speeches.

Having ridden the wave of support for President-elect Barack Obama, Udall and Merkley spoke out in favor of the spirit of reconciliation and moving on from the campaign, in which Lieberman was one of the highest profile supporters of the Republican presidential ticket.

But no one in the room knew, as Merkley spoke, that Lieberman had supported Merkley’s opponent, Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.). Lieberman, through his Reuniting Our Country PAC, gave Smith’s reelection bid $5,000 on Oct. 10, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Lieberman’s support of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for the presidency was well known, punctuated by his nationally televised speech at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul criticizing Obama as not prepared to be president. His endorsement of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who has served as the top Republican beside him at the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also was well known in Democratic circles.

But not even Merkley knew of Lieberman’s backing of Smith in their critical Senate race, until Capitol Briefing alerted his staff today.

“We were surprised to hear this news, but it’s time to put the election behind us. Jeff Merkley is looking forward to working with all his new colleagues on an agenda that will put our nation back on track,” said Julie Edwards, spokeswoman for Merkley.

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Franken camp finds 6,400 uncounted absentee ballots November 26, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in '08 Election, Democrats, News, Voting.
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Courtesy Rawstory:

With the recount in the razor-thin Minnesota U.S. Senate race continuing into its second week, Democratic candidate Al Franken’s campaign says it has uncovered 6,400 rejected absentee ballots and will ask a state board to count at least some of those votes.

Campaign attorney Marc Elias said Tuesday that the campaign received the rejected ballots from 66 of the state’s 87 counties, according to the Associated Press. In some instances, clerical errors or oversight caused the ballot to be improperly rejected. 

Franken is running to unseat incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman. Elections officials have recounted nearly 80 percent of the more than 2 million ballots cast in the Senate race.

-Article Continues @ Sourced Site.

Al Gore to lend star power to Georgia Dem’s Senate runoff November 24, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in '08 Election, Clinton, Democrats, Politics, Repiglicans.
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(CNN) — Add Al Gore to the list of big-name surrogates who are making campaign cameos in the last remaining Senate election this year. The former vice president will team up with Jim Martin at a campaign event Sunday in Atlanta, Georgia.

Martin is a former Georgia state lawmaker who is the Democratic challenger to Saxby Chambliss, Georgia’s freshman Republican senator, who’s fighting to keep his seat. The two candidates face off in a runoff election December 2.

Chambliss won a plurality of the vote on Election Day, but Georgia state law calls for the winner to grab at least 50 percent plus one vote. Because of the inclusion of a third-party candidate, Chambliss fell just shy of that threshold, forcing a runoff.

Gore‘s campaign appearance follows that of former President Bill Clinton, who teamed up with Martin on Wednesday in Atlanta.

President-elect Barack Obama is lending his voice to the Democrats’ efforts to win back the Republican-held senate seat in Georgia. Obama speaks out in a 60-second radio ad forMartin that hit the airwaves Friday.

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Begich ahead by 3 votes in Alaska November 12, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in '08 Election, Democrats, News, Politics, Repiglicans, Voting.
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Courtesy Rawstory:

Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Democratic opponent Mark Begich are neck-and-neck for Stevens’ seat as Alaska continues counting absentee and early ballots not counted on Election Day.

On November 4, Stevens led by about 3,000 votes against Begich, the current mayor of Anchorage. The state’s Division of Elections, reports the Anchorage Daily News, has counted about 43,000 absentee ballots on Wednesday, with 35,000 more expected in the next week. As of Wednesday evening, Begich was in the lead by three votes, with 125,019 against Stevens’ 125,016.

Whether 84-year-old Stevens keeps his seat for long if he prevails is unclear. On October 27, he was convicted of seven federal felony counts for false statements made on financial disclosure forms between 1999 and 2006 to conceal over $250,000 worth of gifts and services from Alaska oil services contractor VECO, including a remodel of one of his houses. Regardless of the appeals process, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said on November 1, Stevens will face an ethics investigation followed by his ejection from the Senate, where he has served since 1968.

 

-Article continued with Video @ Sourced Site.

ACLU wants probe into police-staged DNC protest November 8, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in Democrats, Dirty Tricks, News, Politics, Protest.
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Courtesy The Denver Post:

When a Jefferson County deputy unleashed pepper spray at unruly protesters on the first night of the Democratic National Convention, he did not know that his targets were undercover Denver police officers.

Now the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado is questioning whether that staged confrontation by police pretending to be violent inflamed other protesters or officers during the most intense night of the four-day event.

The protest occurred Aug. 25 at 15th Street and Court Place near Civic Center. Police ultimately arrested 106 people, the highest number of arrests in a single day during the convention.

According to a use-of-force police report obtained by the ACLU, undercover Denver detectives staged a struggle with a police commander to get pulled out of the crowd without blowing their cover. The commander knew they were working undercover, and the plan was to pull them out of the crowd and pretend they were under arrest so protesters would be none the wiser.

A Jefferson County deputy, unaware of the presence of undercover police, thought that the commander was being attacked and used pepper spray on the undercover officers.

The report says that the commander and an undercover detective were sprayed, but it does not indicate how many others were affected. The report also doesn’t say whether the pepper spray used on the undercover police was the first deployment of chemicals that night or whether the riot was already underway.

Denver police have said they were trying to control the crowd moving from Civic Center. The officers testified in court that they had intelligence that anarchists planned to gather in the park, then move toward the 16th Street Mall to wreak havoc at delegate hotels and other businesses. The activists had posted that plan on a publicly available website.

Probe requested

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related: Undercover cops were among the unruly at DNC.


Filibuster Proof Senate still a Possibility for Dems November 7, 2008

Posted by trouble97018 in '08 Election, Democrats, News, Politics, Voting.
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Courtesy Bradblog:

In case you haven’t been able to keep up with the barrage of reporting here over the last 48 hours — concerning serious election irregularities in various races around the country — allow me to connect at least the dots that may well add up to a filibuster-proof Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate.

Now that challenger Jeff Merkley (D) has been declared the winner (at least by the media) over incumbent Sen. Gordon Smith (R) in Oregon, the Democrats have currently been named the winner in enough elections U.S. Senate races that they will have at least 57 seats when President-elect Barack Obama takes office next January.

There remains, however, three U.S. Senate races still in serious contention, all of which, there is very good reason to believe, may end up going to the Democratic candidate if serious attention is given to issues of election integrity in each of those races. Setting aside whether or not a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate is a good or bad thing, the undecided races at this hour — in Alaska, Minnesota and Georgia — are quickly summarized below, along with links to more detailed coverage, for your convenience…

ALASKA: Ted Stevens (R-incumbent) v. Mark Begich (D)

Despite Stevens’ felony conviction on 7 counts, just days before the election, and some pre-election polls showing a likely victory for Begich, the final results — overseen by Gov. Sarah Palin’s friend and Lt. Governor — are being slow-walked and are revealing enormous irregularities, including a so-far inexplicable 11% decline in the turnout rate from the 2004 election.

While Alaska votes on paper, they are tabulated on faulty, hackable, and often inaccurate Diebold op-scanners (more details on that below). The state has also been a long-time Diebold “company town”, as it’s one of the few places where the Democratic Party has actually fought for election integrity by suing the state for database records of how voters voted, following reported turnout rates of more than 200% in some areas in the state’s highly questionable 2004 election.

See our latest coverage here and from last night here.

Article Continues @ Sourced Site.