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South Carolina: Two Plead Guilty in Tribal Money Case

David Therrell Collier and Robert Howell Price, both of Columbia, admitted Friday that they orchestrated an elaborate scheme to funnel tribal money to federal lawmakers, forcing numerous federal campaigns to file incorrect reports with the Federal Election Commission.

Collier and Price both pleaded guilty Friday in a U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia courtroom to one count each of causing a false statement to be made, a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.

As part of their plea deals, both agreed to channeling more than $65,000 in tribal gifts through friends and family members. By laundering the donations though others, the duo caused candidates to file incorrect disclosure statements with the FEC.

The Justice Department did not name the political committees involved in the case.

— Matthew Murray

DCCC Takes an Interest In Souder’s 3rd District

Michael Montagano, a lawyer seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Rep. Mark Souder (R), met with Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) last week.

Montagano surprised many when he ended the second quarter with more than $106,000 in the bank. Souder banked just south of $92,000 as of July 1.

Souder’s 3rd district is heavily Republican — it gave President Bush 68 percent of its 2004 presidential vote — but even Republicans privately concede that Souder, who came to Congress in the Republican wave of 1994, had too close of a call last year.

An unknown Democrat, Thomas Hayhurst, outspent Souder and collected 46 percent of the vote.

The National Republican Congressional Committee spent $226,000 to prop up Souder last year as three GOP incumbents lost their seats in the Hoosier State, including John Hostettler. Hostettler never was a strong fundraiser, making his “bloody 8th” district seat all that more appealing to the DCCC.

Democrats think Souder could be 2008’s Hostettler.

“Chairman Van Hollen came away impressed from his meeting with Michael Montagano yesterday and believes this seat could be a potential sleeper race in 2008,” DCCC spokesman Ryan Rudominer said Friday.

— Nicole Duran

Pelosi Makes $5,000 Contribution to Swett

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is not waiting for former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D) to make up her mind about the 2008 Granite State Senate race.

Pelosi gave Katrina Swett (D) $5,000 for her bid to secure the right to challenge Sen. John Sununu (R).

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee holds out hope that Shaheen, who narrowly lost to Sununu in 2002, will seek a rematch.

Nonetheless, Swett, who is the daughter of veteran Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), is moving forward. Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand and former astronaut Jay Buckey also are seeking the Democratic nod.

Shaheen is supposed to make a decision by the fall.

Swett, who is married to former Rep. Dick Swett (D-N.H.), began July with almost $1.1 million in the bank. Marchand had just $112,000, and Sununu had $2.1 million.

— N.D.

Fitz-Gerald Nabs EMILY’s List Endorsement

State Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald (D), running to succeed 2008 Senate candidate and Rep. Mark Udall (D) in the 2nd district, has picked up an endorsement from EMILY’s List, a political action committee that supports pro-abortion rights female candidates.

“Joan Fitz-Gerald is a strong voice for the people of Colorado. She has proven herself a leader time and again,” Ellen Malcolm, president of EMILY’s List, said in a statement.

An endorsement from EMILY’s List tends to be much sought-after by Democratic candidates and can be good for a significant amount of campaign contributions from the PAC’s members.

The Boulder-area 2nd district leans Democratic and as such has attracted a wide field of candidates, including Fitz-Gerald, deep-pocketed Democratic Party activist Jared Polis, environmental activist Will Shafroth and attorney Larry Johnson.

Fitz-Gerald and Polis are viewed as the frontrunners, with Democrats in Washington, D.C., particularly high on Fitz-Gerald. The state Senate President is credited with helping to lead Democrats back to power in Colorado and has a reputation as a formidable fundraiser.

— David M. Drucker

Democrats Launch National Cable Ad Buy

Democrats are launching a national ad campaign today, touting their accomplishments so far in Congress and pressing President Bush to change direction on the Iraq War.

The cable ad buy will begin running today on CNN, MSNBC, ESPN, The Discovery Channel and Comedy Central. The cost of the two-week buy is in the six figures, Democratic sources said, and it is being paid for jointly by the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The 30-second spot touts the Democratic-led Congress’ efforts to raise the minimum wage, expand health care for children and military veterans and challenge Bush on Iraq War policy. It also says there is more work to be done.

House Democrats are planning other efforts to target vulnerable Republicans throughout the August recess.

“This August we’re going district by district to urge Republicans to stop obstructing progress and work with us to end the war in Iraq,” DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) said. “Republicans who continue to vote in lock step with President Bush’s failed policies will be held accountable.”

House Republicans also announced last week that they are airing radio ads this week targeting Democratic Reps. Christopher Murphy (Conn.), Zack Space (Ohio), Paul Kanjorski (Pa.), John Murtha (Pa.) and Alan Mollohan (W.Va.).

The ads, paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee, focus on ethical misconduct and seek to hold the Democrats accountable for their voting records.

The ads will be followed by print and online ads as well as a monthlong talk-radio blitz.

— Lauren W. Whittington

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