Washington (CNN) - The founder and head of a now-defunct lobbying firm accused of providing illegal campaign contributions to members of Congress was arrested by FBI agents and charged Thursday.
Paul Magliocchetti, president of the once-influential PMA Group, was charged with a scheme to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars from sham contributors to favored lawmakers to build his power and influence with Capitol Hill powerbrokers.
PMA's ties to lawmakers, including the late Congressman Jack Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, and Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Indiana, on behalf of defense contractors seeking earmarks, prompted a series of investigations. The House ethics committee determined the campaigns were unaware of the "straw" donors scheme secretly funded by PMA. No ethics charges resulted.
Washington (CNN) - Embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel remained defiant Thursday, vowing to fight charges brought by the House ethics committee and dismissing President Obama's comments about the veteran House member retiring with dignity.
"I don't know why the president of these great United States would say something like that, I guess he believes eighty is old," Rangel told reporters after delivering a speech at Columbia University.
Obama suggested last week that the New York Democrat was at the end of his career.
"I think Charlie Rangel served a very long time and served- his constituents very well. But these allegations are very troubling," Obama said in an interview with CBS News' Harry Smith. "He's somebody who's at the end of his career. Eighty years old. I'm sure that what he wants is to be able to end his career with dignity. And my hope is that it happens," Obama added.
Asked if he was considering resigning, something ten of his fellow Democrats have urged him to do, Rangel said that he has a right to be heard.
Washington (CNN) - Retail giant Target has said it is "sorry" after the company donated money to a group that backs a candidate who opposes same-sex marriage.
The candidate, Tom Emmer, hopes to win Minnesota's Republican gubernatorial primary.
On Thursday, Gregg Steinhafel – the company's chairman, CEO and president – issued an apology to Target managers and other employees. The letter addresses Target's $150,000 contribution to a group called MN Forward.
"I have heard from many of you, and our team members, over the past week regarding Target's contribution to MN Forward," Steinhafel wrote. "The intent of our political contribution to MN Forward was to support economic growth and job creation."
MN Forward – which says it's focused on job creation – has spent $200,000 on ads supporting Emmer, a candidate who is staunchly against same-sex marriage.
(CNN) – The welcome wagon didn't exactly show up for the opening of Meg Whitman's new campaign office in East Los Angeles.
The Republican gubernatorial candidate's new outreach office was surrounded by a group of more than 100 protesters ranging from union workers to members of the Latino community Wednesday afternoon, according to California Labor Federation Director of Communications and Media Relations Steve Smith.
The Service Employees International Union Local 1877, a union workers group, the California Labor Federation and other local political activists organized the protest.
(CNN) – President Obama, moving into campaign mode ahead of the midterm elections, has added new, sharper language to his stump speech – twice this week invoking the name of his predecessor.
Obama frequently criticizes Republican policies on the economy – that is certainly nothing new. But the latest wrinkle in Obama's rhetoric is that until now, he has avoided referring to former President Bush by name. That changed this week.
Thursday marked the second time in a week that Obama has mentioned Bush. During a fundraiser in Chicago for Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, Obama said Republicans are "betting on amnesia" as trying to make the economy an issue in fall races around the country.
"They haven't come out with a single solitary idea that is different from policies that held sway for eight years before Democrats took over, not a single policy difference that's discernible from George W. Bush. Not one," he told the crowd at the Palmer House Hilton on Chicago.
Elena Kagan was confirmed Thursday by the Senate. She is pictured here being sworn in before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)
Washington (CNN) - Solicitor General Elena Kagan was easily confirmed Thursday as the next associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, completing the 50-year-old native New Yorker's climb to the peak of the American legal profession.
The 63-37 vote was more than enough to blunt any possibility of a last-minute Republican delay or filibuster. Opposition during three days of Senate floor debate was relatively subdued.
Kagan is set to begin a lifetime position as the nation's 112th justice. Administration officials anticipate she will sworn into office Saturday, when she takes the traditional constitutional and judicial oaths. She will then assume her court duties immediately.
CNN Radio Political Notebook:
Her brisk confirmation was a political victory for President Barack Obama - who placed Justice Sonia Sotomayor on the high court last year - and for Senate Democrats.
Washington (CNN) – A day after former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin suggested that voters had not allowed President Obama to be sufficiently scrutinized before putting him into the Oval Office, the Democratic National Committee is firing back and calling Palin "an expert in not being vetted."
In an appearance on Fox News Wednesday night, Palin essentially said Obama is not up to the task of holding the nation's highest office.
"I think he's quite complacent," the former Republican vice presidential hopeful said. "And I think he's in over his head. And I think he has poor advisers around him. And I think he's really in flux kind of when it comes to what his governing philosophy actually is. Some of this though is a result of he not having much experience and then a complicit media and maybe some voters who chose to not to allow him to be vetted very closely."
In a statement e-mailed to CNN, the DNC turned the tables on Palin, who had faced questions about the vetting process used by the Sen. John McCain's campaign to help select her in 2008.
"While former half-term governor Palin is certainly an expert in not being vetted, we put our trust in the judgment of the American people who rejected not only the broken policies she and Republicans continue to call for, but also this very kind of childish politics she continues to engage in," DNC national press secretary Hari Sevugan said. "What's been fully vetted and thoroughly rejected by the American people is the failed approach in tone and substance offered by Sarah Palin and her ilk."
Washington (CNN) - Republican Scott Brown will not vote for Elena Kagan, the Massachusetts senator announced Thursday, saying she lacks both the judicial and courtroom experience required of a Supreme Court justice.
"I cannot vote to confirm Elena Kagan. The reason is simple. I believe nominees to the Supreme Court should have previously served on the bench," Brown said in a statement. "Lacking that, I look for many years of practical courtroom experience to compensate for the absence of prior judicial experience. In Elena Kagan's case, she is missing both."
Kagan is expected to be confirmed Thursday as the 112th justice to the Supreme Court and could be sworn in to her judicial post by week's end.
Kagan has spent a substantial portion of her career in academia, a place that Brown views as lacking the real world gravitas of the nation's courtrooms.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - The newly passed health care law will boost the financial strength of the nation's massive Medicare program, the government said Thursday.
The controversial Affordable Care Act extends the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by 12 years, to 2029, according to the annual report from the trustees who oversee Medicare.
The effects of the law - lowering health care costs, focusing on prevention and improving service quality - will help rein in the exploding costs of Medicare, the administration said.