The Senate took two big votes yesterday, passing both ethics reform legislation, to make sure that elected officials act, well, ethically, and SCHIP reauthorization, to make sure sick children get health care. The Senators up for re-election in 2008 who voted against the ethics bill are Cochran (R-MS), Cornyn (R-TX), Craig (R-ID), Graham (R-SC), and Inhofe (R-OK). The Senators up for re-election in 2008 who voted against the SCHIP reauthorization (in other words, who voted to keep sick children sick) are Barrasso (R-WY), Chambliss (R-GA), Cochran (R-MS), Cornyn (R-TX), Craig (R-ID), Dole (R-NC), Enzi (R-WY), Graham (R-SC), Hagel (R-NE), Inhofe (R-OK), McConnell (R-KY), and Sessions (R-AL). Opposing ethical standards for elected officials and health care for sick children... y'know, some political ads just write themselves.
Alaska: New twists are being uncovered regarding the Senate staffer charged with handling Ted Stevens' personal affairs. The staffer's job title exists nowhere else in the Senate and it appears that the staffer had zero actual Senate duties. So, basically, this staffer got paid $150,000 per annum on the Senate payroll to perform zero work in the Senate and only attend to Stevens' personal affairs, for which she should be paid not by the Senate but by Stevens. Should Stevens not be paying her for her assistance with his personal finances, then her services would be deemed a gift, which should be listed on Stevens' financial disclosure forms - only it's not listed, which could be a violation of federal law. Lots still unraveling - stay tuned!
Idaho: Larry Craig decided to insert himself into the Ted Stevens investigation by defending Stevens with a comment comparing the FBI to the Gestapo. I'm not joking. Craig has the audacity (or lack of mental faculties) to compare the FBI to the Gestapo for investigating Stevens' home, which you may remember was renovated with the assistance of corporate honchos guilty of bribing public officials. How dare the FBI!
Kansas: I wonder if Pat Roberts, a member of the Senate Ethics Committee, will return the thousands of dollars he has received from Ted Stevens now that Stevens is under investigation. If not, Roberts should recuse himself from any potential Senate Ethics investigation regarding Stevens.
Oklahoma: State Senator Andrew Rice has reportedly sent a letter to friends and supporters confirming that he will challenge Jim "In Denial" Inhofe for the U.S. Senate in 2008. The AP confirms it. This is a very welcomed development. You can read more about State Senator Rice's impressive background here.
Maine: While Susan Collins supports Bush's tax cuts for the richest Americans, Tom Allen supports tax cuts for the middle class. As Allen says, "Our economic policies should reflect our values."
Oregon: Lots of positive press for Speaker Jeff Merkley since his Senate announcement. Perhaps the best line: "By the time the Legislature adjourned in June, Jeff Merkley had become known as the speaker who guided the Oregon House of Representatives through one of the most productive sessions in decades, and he did it with a one-vote Democratic majority."
Minnesota: In another demonstration of how unclassy Republicans can be, while Democrats Al Franken and Mike Ciresi have temporarily suspended their Senate campaigns following the bridge collapse tragedy, the Republican National Committee's summer meeting in Minneapolis is continuing without pause.
New Hampshire: Could it be that the announced Democrats for Senate in 2008 will all remain in the race even if former Governor Jeanne Shaheen gets in? The longer Shaheen waits to make a formal decision, the more likely I'd expect that outcome to be. Whether that helps or hurts Democrats against Sununu is anybody's guess right now.
New Jersey: NorthJersey.com recognizes that Frank Lautenberg is more than up to the challenge of a re-election bid; "the senator could probably challenge his likely rivals to a contest on a ski slope and win."