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Politics Digest

Thursday, September 17, 2009

CONNECTICUT

Wrestling Impresario Enters Senate Race

World Wresting Entertainment chief executive Linda McMahon entered Connecticut's Republican race for U.S. Senate on Wednesday, adding a celebrity element to a contest that promises to be among the most competitive in the country.

"Washington is out of control, and sadly, Senator Chris Dodd has lost his way and our trust," McMahon said in a statement. "I can't sit by on the sidelines anymore knowing that I have both the experience and the strength to stand up to special interests and bring badly needed change to Washington."

McMahon is half of the husband-and-wife duo who run the wrestling empire out of Stamford, Conn. Those familiar with her candidacy say she will spend heavily from her personal wealth. McMahon plans to take no cash from political action committees or special interests and is limiting private donations to her campaign to $100 -- the sort of pledges that only wealthy candidates can afford to make.

McMahon joins former congressman Rob Simmons, former ambassador Tom Foley and state Sen. Sam Caligiuri as Republicans running for the chance to unseat Dodd. Investor Peter Schiff, who served as an adviser to the presidential campaign of Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.), is likely to run as well.

Dodd is among the most vulnerable senators up for reelection in November 2010, although a new poll conducted by Research 2000 for the liberal blog Daily Kos suggests that the Democratic incumbent may be gaining ground.

-- Chris Cillizza

HOUSE

Ethics Panel Looks At 3 Lawmakers

The House ethics committee announced that it is investigating Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), fresh evidence that the chamber's disciplinary process has been ramped up since the creation last year of an office to vet allegations against lawmakers.

The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct made its actions known in three statements, revealing that its 10 members -- five Republicans and five Democrats -- voted unanimously Tuesday to extend for 45 days its reviews of allegations against Graves and Waters. The investigation of Jackson was already public knowledge, but the committee said Wednesday that it would halt that probe for the time being, at the request of the Justice Department. All three cases were referred by the year-old Office of Congressional Ethics to the committee for further consideration.

The probe of Jackson stems from allegations, the committee reported, that he "may have offered to raise funds" for then-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) in exchange for Jackson being appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated by President Obama.

The committee did not publicly reveal what allegations it is weighing against Waters or Graves.

In 2008, Waters faced media scrutiny for allegedly helping OneUnited Bank, in which she and her husband had held stock, receive federal funding through the Troubled Assets Relief Program.

Graves, meanwhile, has faced questions in the past about his failure to disclose the use of a private plane owned by a campaign contributor, and about his inviting a friend and business partner to testify before the Small Business Committee, on which Graves is the top Republican. A statement from the Missouri lawmaker's office Wednesday suggests that the investigation is related to the latter controversy.

-- Ben Pershing

NEW MEXICO

For Richardson, It's Land of Entertainment

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) spent almost $139,000 for dinners and receptions at the governor's mansion last year, entertaining thousands of guests, including movie stars George Clooney and Robert Duvall.

A discretionary expense account covers the costs of the events. Spending from the fund was up 63 percent from 2007, when the governor campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination and traveled extensively outside of New Mexico.

Expenditures totaled $138,925 in 2008, according to a report obtained by the Associated Press in response to a public records request. That is up from $85,197 in 2007 and $109,486 in 2006.

About 85 events were held at the governor's residence last year and nearly 5,200 guests attended, according to a Richardson spokesman.

-- Associated Press

MASSACHUSETTS

Rep. Capuano to Run For Kennedy Seat

Rep. Michael Capuano of Massachusetts said he will run for the late Edward M. Kennedy's Senate seat, arguing that he is the best candidate to continue his fellow Democrat's liberal philosophical tradition and better tested in the national political arena than leading rival Martha Coakley.

The plain-spoken six-term congressman said he plans to formally declare his candidacy Friday and then pursue a vigorous campaign before the Dec. 8 primary. The special election to succeed Kennedy, who died Aug. 25 of brain cancer, will be Jan. 19.

Another Democrat, Alan Khazei, confirmed Wednesday in an e-mail to friends and colleagues that he too will run in the special election. Khazei is a co-founder of the service organization City Year.

-- Associated Press

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