Jack Abramoff

If you’re still filling out your tax forms, it may be tempting to cut some corners and tell a few white lies. But as the ethics-deficient politicians listed below can tell you, tax evasion doesn’t end well. Here’s a guide on “what-not-to-do,” courtesy of political figures, past and present.  Spiro Agnew. The only vice president to resign due to criminal charges, Agnew left office in 1973 just ten months before Richard Nixon’s departure would have made him president.

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In advance of today’s primary, the Republican establishment has gone into overdrive to convince Florida voters that Newt Gingrich is a faux-conservative, ethically challenged has-been. The collective Republican panic has been fun to watch, not least because some of the GOP all-stars condemning Newt are best known for their own ethical lapses and heated rhetoric.

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Since it's "Republicans going beyond the pale of human decency" day, I thought I'd quote this grimly hilarious Josh Marshall blog item: Rep. Ralph Hall (R) of Texas has been in the news this week because the octogenarian anti-environment crusader is taking over as chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee. But here at TPM we remember him for another proud moment: the day thirteen years ago when he slandered a teenaged sex slave into the House record on behalf of then-lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

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Up From Abramoff

“God’s not looking for perfect people—there’s only been one perfect person in the history of the human race,” Ralph Reed tells the crowd at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington. It’s the weekend of September 11, and Reed is holding the inaugural conference for his new Faith and Freedom Coalition (FFC), which is aiming to mobilize evangelicals the way the Christian Coalition did in the 1990s. “God’s looking for broken people,” he says, “humble and contrite people.” “Broken” was once the perfect word to describe Reed’s career.

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Yesterday, Paul Krugman wrote that "President Obama isn’t completely innocent of blame in the current [Gulf oil] spill." He pointed out that the president took too long to appoint a new director of the Minerals Management Service, which oversees offshore drilling and had a dismal record under President Bush. Krugman also cited the decision by MMS to exempt the Deepwater Horizon drilling operation from a comprehensive environmental review just eleven days before the rig exploded. But Krugman missed a few things in his column.

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Congressman Dana Rohrabacher is hardly a liberal dove. The right-wing California Republican is a former Reagan aide, a full-throated Iraq war supporter, and once shouted at anti-torture protesters, "I hope it's your family members that die when terrorists strike!" For good measure, he was a close pal of Jack Abramoff.  But a friend who attended a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on the Afghan elections today tells me that even Rohrabacher expressed serious doubts about the wisdom of sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. That seemed hard to believe.

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House Cleaning

How quickly they forget. The 2006 midterm election that gave Democrats both chambers of Congress wasn't entirely a vote of confidence in the party's leadership or policy acumen. It was a vote against the Republican Party. In the run-up to the election, Democrats hammered on the failures of the Iraq war and the incompetency of the Bush administration, but one narrative stuck best: corruption. At the time, Republicans were reeling from a raft of scandals--there was Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, and naughty instant-messager Mark Foley.

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Murthaville

Congressman John Murtha passed away today. Below, you'll find a recent magazine feature that we ran on him--and the town he represented for 36 years. One night last August, John Murtha, the U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania’s Twelfth Congressional District, paid a visit to the LBK Game Ranch, a private hunting camp in the hills above his home city of Johnstown. About 60 people had gathered in the ranch’s lodge--a luxury five-bedroom log cabin decorated with deer antlers and flat-screen televisions--to raise money for his 2008 campaign. There were two odd things about the event.

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Ed Kilgore is managing editor of The Democratic Strategist, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, and a frequent contributor to a variety of political journals. As the Senate vote on Sonia Sotomayor's nomination draws nigh, most Republicans, privately if not publicly, are probably relieved that this hasn't become a strict party-line (and thus party-defining) vote, much less a filibuster fight, and are ready to move onto other issues. But cultural conservatives, who are absolutely obsessed with the shape of the Supreme Court, and are bitter about the failure of past Republican p

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If the news reports are accurate, Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado has been tapped by Barack Obama to head up the Department of Interior. Let's hope he knows what he's getting into. After the last eight years, the Interior Department has become fairly dysfunctional, and this may end up being one of the most difficult jobs in the Obama administration—not to mention one that gets remarkably little attention.  Looking back historically, the Interior Department has been a mess from the very beginning.

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