Capitol Hillbillies

Dems widen probe of corrupt lobbyist

House Democrats are expanding their investigation into ties between jailed GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the White House and have contacted several Abramoff associates recently about testifying to Congress.

Wyoming Sen. Craig Thomas dead at 74

Sen. Craig Thomas, a conservative Republican from Wyoming, has died after a fight with leukemia that was diagnosed last year just as he was elected for a third term. He was 74.

The senator's family said he died Monday evening at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. The family had said earlier in the day that his cancer had been resistant to a second round of chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia.

Thomas was hospitalized with pneumonia just before the 2006 election, but won with 70 percent of the vote, monitoring the election from his hospital bed.

CSI: Washington

A Washington watchdog group is inviting you to engage in some "CSI" work, which, in this case, means "Campaign Spending Investigation."

The Center for Responsive Politics is asking the public to help them figure out which Capitol Hill lawmakers are pulling the strings behind the scenes of about 30 "mystery" fundraising political action committees.

Rep. Jefferson indicted for bribery

Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., was indicted Monday on federal charges of racketeering, soliciting bribes and money-laundering in a long-running bribery investigation into business deals he tried to broker in Africa.

The indictment handed up in federal court in Alexandria., Va., Monday is 94 pages long and lists 16 alleged violations of federal law that could keep Jefferson in prison for up to 235 years, according to a Justice Department official who has seen the document.

Kiss and tell and cash in

Hustler magazine is looking for some scandalous sex in Washington again — and willing to pay for it.

"Have you had a sexual encounter with a current member of the United States Congress or a high-ranking government official?" read a full-page advertisement taken out by Larry Flynt's pornographic magazine in Sunday's Washington Post.

Democrats hide pork barrel from public

After promising unprecedented openness regarding Congress' pork barrel practices, House Democrats are moving in the opposite direction as they draw up spending bills for the upcoming budget year.

Democrats are sidestepping rules approved their first day in power in January to clearly identify "earmarks" — lawmakers' requests for specific projects and contracts for their states.

Rather than including specific pet projects, grants and contracts in legislation as it is being written, Democrats are following an order by the House Appropriations Committee chairman to keep the bills free of such earmarks until it is too late for critics to effectively challenge them.

Capitol sex blogger files for bankruptcy

Jessica Cutler, the former Senate aide whose online sex diary landed her a book deal and a Playboy photo spread but got her kicked off Capitol Hill, has filed for bankruptcy.

Cutler, an aide to then-Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, created the "Washingtonienne" blog in 2004 and began posting racy details about her sex life with six men, including a Senate colleague and "a few generous older gentlemen" who she said paid many of her living expenses.

When the blog was discovered, Cutler was fired. She moved to New York, wrote a novel based on the scandal, posed naked and started a new Web site that describes her as "a published author who jumps out of cakes for money."

Hillary’s double standard on use of plane

Senator and Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton trotted out the vague and loose rules of the Senate and Federal Election Commission Wednesday as a rationalization for accepting rides on a private jet from a fatcat contributor.

"Whatever I've done, I complied with Senate rules at the time. That's the way every senator operates," Clinton claimed in an interview with Associated Press reporter Kathleen Hennessey.

Clinton, however, refused to discuss whether the rules are too lax.

"Those were the rules. You'll have to ask somebody else whether that's good policy," she said.

Democrats did the right thing

To those who see the world through a partisan prism, last week's congressional vote to continue funding American troops in Iraq looks like a loss for Democrats. On the contrary: Those Democrats who refused to legislate an American military defeat — despite intense pressure from a well-financed, well-organized campaign on the left — deserve great credit.

Kyl’s immigration hot seat

Hard-liners in the immigration debate stood behind Sen. Jon Kyl for his tough stance on immigration last year, while undocumented immigrants thrashed a pinata bearing his image.

Now the Arizona Republican's surprise support for a bipartisan Senate bill seeking to legalize some 12 million illegal immigrants and create a guest-worker program has bewildered friends and foes alike in the desert state.

The measure, which would tie tough border security and workplace enforcement measures to a guest-worker program and a plan to offer the millions of illegal immigrants a path to legal status, is under fire from the right and the left.

Conservatives argue that it will give amnesty to people who broke U.S. laws, while unions say the temporary worker program will create an underclass of cheaper laborers.