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Site for Sore Eyes

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has retooled its Web site.

After advertising on liberal Web logs and political Internet sites, soliciting input from would-be site visitors, the new was launched last week.

“The site is built on an open source framework and includes an improved content management system with the flexibility to deploy new content and features on a moment’s notice,” according to the site.

“We’ve also redesigned the Web site — adding new content, better visual presentation of data and a new site navigation that will make it easier for you to find the information you’re looking for. This is just one of many steps we’ll be taking in the coming months to improve our online capabilities,” the DSCC promised.

Specter Man Lincs With Chafee. Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) has put together the key components for what is expected to be a tough re-election bid.

Christopher Nicholas, who managed the hotly contested re-election campaign of Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) last year, was named general consultant.

Chris Mottola will handle media. He was part of the Bush-Cheney 2004 media team and has worked on the campaigns of Specter, Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) and New York Gov. George Pataki (R).

Public Opinion Strategies will handle polling.

The firm has polled for the successful campaigns of Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), among many others.

Fairbank Robbed. Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research has lured Ben Tulchin away from Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates to head up its new West Coast office.

Tulchin was named associate vice president and director of Greenberg’s Pacific Coast office, located in San Francisco, last month. He had been a senior vice president at Fairbank Maslin.

Clean-up Crew. A group of Democratic-leaning activists is trying to use the recent rash of ethics scandals emanating from Capitol Hill to drum up public support for Congressional reform.

The Campaign for a Cleaner Congress was launched recently with seed money from labor organizations and is affiliated with American Family Voices.

The group’s leadership team is now in place. It is led by Mike Casey of Tiger Comm — a consulting firm — and Peter Kelley, a former journalist-turned-environmentalist. Sandra Salstrom, who worked on the failed Senate bid of then-Rep. Brad Carson (D-Okla.) last year, serves as press secretary, and veteran labor campaign operative Bill Burke heads up the field operations.

The group has laid out a five-point plan to make Congress more accountable to voters, Casey said.

In addition to calling on the House ethics committee to investigate Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) immediately, long-term the group wants Congress to dismantle the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct and replace it with an inspector general.

In light of allegations that some Members and staffers took trips at lobbyists’ expense, Casey wants to see junkets banned altogether.

“If you want to go on vacation, you can pay for it,” he said.

Furthermore, the group is calling for “real-time disclosure” of Members’ personal financial information; better lobbyist registration; and Members to log all contact with lobbyists on the Internet for the public to review.

“We think the public would be best served if Members of Congress had to log on the Internet all lobbying contacts — who they met with, what they wanted, what was discussed” etc., Casey said. “If Members of Congress think there’s nothing unseemly about all this excessive contact with lobbyists … they can share it with the public.”

The group has already aired radio spots in Pennsylvania and Washington deriding Reps. Melissa Hart (R-Pa.) and ethics committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) for accepting campaign contributions from DeLay.

Spencer for Hire. John Spencer, the former mayor of Yonkers who hopes to win the GOP nod to take on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) next year, has announced his squad.

John McLaughlin has signed on as general consultant. McLaughlin has worked for the governator — Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) — Sens. John Warner (R-Va.), George Allen (R-Va.) and Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), among others.

Former National Republican Senatorial Committee Political Director Chris LaCivita is doing media consulting while Craig Shirley of Shirley & Banister Public Relations was named national media consultant.

Christian Winthrop, who has managed former Navy SEAL Dave Rogers’ two unsuccessful attempts to unseat Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), was made campaign director. Chip Gately, former marketing director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is Spencer’s finance consultant.

Victoria Groetsch was tapped to be deputy finance director, Robert Harris is handling research and Liam McLaughlin is the legal counsel.

Spencer is competing for the GOP nomination with Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro and attorney Ed Cox.

Mellman Group Has Faith. Faith Passy-Lewis was promoted to senior analyst at The Mellman Group.

Passy-Lewis has worked for Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Jon Corzine (D-N.J.) as well as Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) and Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.).

Driving the Van. Former Rep. Van Hilleary (R-Tenn.) has expanded his Senate campaign staff.

Jennifer Coxe was named campaign director and Rachel Eason was made deputy finance director.

Coxe, who was communications director for Hilleary’s unsuccessful 2002 gubernatorial bid, has worked at the Republican National Committee and in President Bush’s administration. She is a former leadership aide to then-Sen. Connie Mack III (R-Fla.) and worked on the successful 2004 Senate campaign of former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez (R-Fla.).

Fundraising That’s Taylor-Made. Kim Taylor of Progressive Capitol has signed on to raise money for the Senate campaign of Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), according to the Bennington Banner.

Nationwide direct mailings have already begun, the paper added. Sanders has never used a fundraiser in any of his eight House races.

“We’re having to raise money above an amount we’ve had to before,” Sanders spokesman Jeff Weaver told the paper. Taylor’s “hiring reflects the reality that we’re likely facing a self-funded candidate who reportedly is ready to spend $5 million of his own money.”

He was referring to Republican Richard Tarrant, the co-founder and chairman of IDX Systems, a medical software firm in Burlington, who has said he may spend as much as $1 million of his own money on next year’s open Senate race.

Give ’em El. Elwyn Tinklenberg has added two more big-name Democratic consultants to his campaign roster.

David Plouffe and David Axelrod of AKP Message and Media have signed on to the former state transportation director’s 6th district Congressional bid.

They join general consultant Bob Doyle, who’s already in place, pollster Alan Secrest and direct mail guru Duane Baughman.

Lake Country. Former state Sen. Ed Perlmutter (D), who is running in Colorado’s open 7th district race, has signed pollster Celinda Lake of Lake, Snell, Perry, Mermin/Decision Research.

Lake has worked for Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D), to name a few.