Four supporters of former U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan want their names removed from a court action that alleges that they participated in the fraudulent gathering of signatures on Meehan’s nominating petition to run for a seat in the House of Representatives.
The Delaware County Daily Times reported Friday that the four Meehan supporters were named in a motion filed earlier in the week in Commonwealth Court asking the court to rule that most of the 3,623 signatures Meehan submitted to qualify for the ballot in southeast Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District are invalid.
If the signatures are found to be illegitimate, Meehan would be ineligible to run in the May 18 GOP primary. Meehan asked the Pennsylvania court on Thursday to throw out the motion challenging the validity of signatures on his nominating petitions for a House seat.
In the motion, the plaintiffs alleged that four of Meehan’s supporters — called circulators because they circulated Meehan’s nominating petition — falsely signed an affidavit verifying that they had personally witnessed the signatures on the petition.
Robert DiOrio, the lawyer for the four circulators, called the allegation “false and defamatory” and “outrageous charges” that should be removed immediately.
“My clients are very upset and concerned that they have been called frauds and we thought that this was the quickest way to publicly demand that this practice stop immediately,” DiOrio said, according to the Daily Times. The lawyer held a press conference on the matter Thursday afternoon.
Meehan blamed state Rep. Bryan Lentz, the likely Democratic nominee for the seat, for the challenge. In a letter to the Democratic candidate, Meehan called the motion a “shameless stunt.”
The Lentz campaign has stood in support of the challenge.
“This is a pending legal matter,” Lentz spokesman Vincent Rongione told the newspaper. “The Meehan campaign and their associates will have their day in court to defend themselves and that’s the appropriate place for this conversation, not a press conference.”
Meehan, who served as U.S. Attorney for the Philadelphia-based Eastern District of Pennsylvania during the George W. Bush administration, is looking to succeed Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), who is running against Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic Senate primary. The former U.S. Attorney is the only candidate in the Republican primary.
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Seems Karl Griffin is not to be.
While the two were in the White House when George W. Bush was president, Tim Griffin, then an aide to Bush adviser Karl Rove, jokingly wrote in an e-mail to his boss: “Btw my wife is pregnant. We are thinking about naming him Karl. Lol.”
But the baby turned out to be a girl. Griffin and his wife Elizabeth named her Mary Katherine. (Possible alternative namesakes? — Mary Cheney, the second daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney; Republican strategist Mary Matalin; or Bush administration Transportation Secretary Mary Peters.)
Cut to 2010 and now the couple is expecting again. This time they know for sure it’s a boy. But it looks like Rove’s name won’t live on in the Griffin family.
“Thank you to all who have been asking, but Baby John is not here yet! I will keep you updated! We appreciate your thoughts and prayers,” Griffin tweeted Friday evening.
So which “John” in Griffin’s life could be more important than Karl Rove?
We at Main Justice have a few guesses — John Ashcroft? John McCain? John Roberts?
Griffin played a central role in the 2006 U.S. Attorney firings scandal. Congressional investigators found the White House had ousted Little Rock-based prosecutor Bud Cummins to make way for Griffin to take the plum federal prosecuting post. He served six controversial months before stepping down.
Griffin is now seeking the Republican nomination for Arkansas’ 2nd congressional district House seat. His campaign did not return a request for comment.
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In an interview with Bloomberg News on Friday, Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney endorsed a House bill that would repeal the antitrust exemption that health insurers enjoy, and said it could inject competition into the insurance industry.
“Whenever you have anybody with an enormous amount of market share, whether it’s 70 percent, 80 percent, 90 percent of the product sales in a particular market, that tells us that market is probably not competitive,” Varney told Bloomberg.
Varney testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last October about repealing the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson law that exempts insurance companies from some federal antitrust scrutiny, but stopped short of endorsing any legislation then.
Now she told Bloomberg that the bill would “hopefully… introduce more competition.”
“Anytime an industry or a sector of the economy enjoys immunity from a law, they behave differently than if they have to compete,” she said.
The House on Wednesday passed legislation to repeal the exemption for health insurers, but the matter faces an uncertain future in the Senate. The bill was previously part of broader health overhaul package in Congress, but House leaders targeted the antitrust exemption for stand-alone treatment once reform efforts stalled.
In the Bloomberg interview, Varney rated her performance and told Bloomberg she was somewhat more aggressive than antitrust regulators in the Bush administration, grading herself at a “four or five” if the previous Justice Department was a “two or three.”
(Here is our interview with her predecessor, Tom Barnett, who said antitrust enforcement has changed much with the new administration.)
When Varney took over at the Antitrust Division last year, she gave several speeches announcing that she would step up antitrust scrutiny and hinted that she would challenge more conduct than the previous administration had.
But in the first big test for Obama’s Justice Department, the merger between ticket giant Ticketmaster and concert promoter Live Nation, Varney approved the deal last month with some conditions. The approval prompted some critics to say that her bark might be worse than her bite. Responding to that charge, Varney told Bloomberg:
“Having a big bark is not a bad thing,” she said. “When I was growing up, the people across the street had this big huge German Shepherd named Missy and nobody went on Missy’s lawn because of her bark. I can’t tell you whether or not Missy would have ever bit anyone, but she certainly deterred some trespassing.”
Read the whole interview here.
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As it debated legislation to reauthorize U.S. intelligence programs, the House Friday morning at the last minute stripped language from a wide-ranging amendment that would have prohibited U.S. intelligence operatives from engaging in cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
The torture prohibition had been included Thursday in a package of amendments offered by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) that was debated on the House floor. The section of the amendment was titled, “Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment in Interrogations Prohibited.”
According to Politico, the language was drafted by liberal Washington Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott, and included in Reyes’ package of amendments at the insistence of Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) .
The torture language drew immediate criticism from key House Republicans and conservative opinion leaders off Capitol Hill. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the ranking minority member of the Intelligence Committee, complained, “Republicans brought this to the attention of the American people, who were rightly outraged that Democrats would try to target those we ask to serve in harm’s way. … The annual intelligence bill should be about protecting and defending our nation, not targeting those we ask to do that deed and giving greater protections to terrorists.”
Before the House voted on the amendment, leaders decided that the provision should be removed, judging that its inclusion could put passage of the entire bill at risk. That required a hurriedly scheduled Rules Committee meeting Thursday evening to approve a rule that modified the Reyes amendment, to take out the torture provision. All of that delayed further action on the amendment, and the bill, until Friday.
When the House finally voted on the Reyes amendment Friday morning, it was on the modified version — sans the torture language, which would have specifically prohibited waterboarding, inducing hypothermia or heat injury, forcing a person to be naked or to perform a sex act, or conducting mock executions. The amendment also would have banned interrogators from forcing a prisoner to maintain stress positions or to desecrate a religious object.
Under the original language U.S. intelligence members could face up to 15 years in prison for committing an act of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or up to life in prison if a detainee died during an interrogation in which such treatment occurred. The amendment also would have applied to medical professionals who take part in interrogations.
The modified Reyes amendment was approved, 246-166, and the House went on to pass the intelligence authorization by a tally of 235-168.
In action on Thursday, the House gave its voice-vote approval to an amendment that would require the inspector general of the intelligence community to review available intelligence to determine if there is any credible evidence of a connection between a foreign entity and the anthrax attacks in the United States in the fall of 2001.
The amendment was sponsored by Rush Holt (D-N.J.) and Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.). Holt said that the FBI, which announced just last week the completion of its lengthy probe into the anthrax attacks, had been too hasty in concluding that a single man - scientist Bruce Ivins — who worked in Frederick, Md., in Bartlett’s congressional district — was responsible.
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Former U.S. Attorney Tom Marino (R) on Wednesday formally announced that he is running for Congress, The Daily Item of Sunbury, Pa., reported. He said he will challenge incumbent Rep. Chris Carney (D) for his seat in Pennsylvania’s 10th congressional district, which includes Scanton.
Marino was the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania from 2002 to October 2007.
He made the announcement in Williamsport, recalling the attitude that his parents had instilled in him long ago: “A citizen of this great country had to give back double what he had received.”
Before becoming a federal prosecutor, Marino was a Lycoming County, Pa., district attorney.
According to the Allentown Morning Call, during his time as U.S. Attorney, Marino came under fire for proving a reference for Louis DeNaples on DeNaples’ gaming application for Mount Airy Casino Resort while Marino’s office was investigating DeNaples. After Marino resigned, DeNaples hired Marino as an in-house counsel for non-casino businesses. Marino recently resigned in order to focus on his congressional bid.
Marino will face at least three other Republicans in the primary. The Republicans who have officially announced their candidacy are anti-tax activist Chris Bain, Snyder County Commissioner Malcolm Derk and chiropractor David Madeira.
Two other Republicans who have been mentioned as possible candidates are businessman Dan Meuser and Lackawanna Trail School Board Member Daniel Naylor.