The Note: A Ballet Being Fought Out in the Alley

The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman reports that Sen. Reid's actions "are proving to be a headache for Democrats as they press their case that Republicans have succumbed to a 'culture of corruption.'" LINK

The politics of lobbying:

USA Today's cover story is a must-read about the spouses and relatives of lawmakers who are hired by special interests to use their personal connections to influence appropriations, champion special projection and influence votes. Matt Kelley and Peter Eisler report that appropriations bills in 2005 contained roughly $750 million for projects that were pushed by lobbyists whose relatives were involved in writing of the bills. LINK

2006: House:

"When it comes to House races, President Bush is dropping into solidly Republican districts to shore up incumbents who seem vulnerable, as his party turns up the pressure on a handful of Democratic incumbents who face tough challenges, including Representatives Darlene Hooley in Oregon, Melissa Bean in Illinois and Leonard L. Boswell in Iowa," writes John Broder in the Political Action column of the New York Times. LINK

The New York Times' David Johnston writes up the FBI search of four homes yesterday as part of an investigation into whether Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) "improperly aided" his daughter and political associate in "efforts to obtain lobbying and public relations contracts." LINK

Two of the raids were in the Philadelphia area and two in Jacksonville, FL, report John Shiffman and Todd Mason of the Philadelphia Inquirer. LINK

The Washington Post's Leonnig and Smith report that the FBI's investigation of Rep. Weldon -- who never tires of reminding people that he was a Russian Studies major in college -- focuses on Rep. Weldon's support of the Russian-managed Itera International Energy Corp., one of the world's largest oil and gas firms, while that company paid fees to Solutions North America, the company that Karen Weldon," the congressman's daughter, and Charles Sexton, a Pennsylvania political ally, operate. LINK

Rep. Jim Leach (R-IA) changes course and suggests a timeline for withdrawing American troops from Iraq within a year during campaign debate, reports Erin Jordan of the Des Moines Register. LINK

Stuart Rothenberg writes in a Roll Call op-ed that he has yet to add Reps. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), Mark Souder (R-Ind.), Jim Ryun (R-Kan.) to his list of threatened GOP incumbents: "While I can't completely rule out the possibility that some or all of them could drown in a Democratic tsunami, I believe the chances are so small that I can't bring myself to put them on a list of endangered incumbents."

The New York Times' Carl Hulse reports that the "National Republican Congressional Committee has recently thrown nearly $500,000" into the campaign for Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) who faces a strong opponent in former Microsoft manager Darcy Burner. LINK

The Charleston Gazette has a report on the fundraising efforts that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is making for House candidate Chris Wakim (R-WV). The NRCC recently cut Wakim's television advertising budget, writes Andrew Clevenger. LINK

Eric Warner of the AP writes that new campaign finance reports reveal that Rep. Jon Doolittle (R-CA) has paid a lawyer $38,000 to contact the Justice Department regarding the Jack Abramoff investigation. A Doolittle spokesperson, however, said that Rep. Doolittle "has no reason to believe that he is the target of an investigation." LINK

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