Let’s Question Questionable Federal Anti-Corruption Tactics

By Andrew Kreig / Project Director

Andrew KreigMajor developments during recent days in federal anti-corruption probes in Maryland, North Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama underscore the scandalous conditions within the Justice Department that most Democrats and Republicans dare not to address, in part because  law enforcers could implicate so many elected officials in financing and sex scandals. Meanwhile, a Washington, DC forum June 13 for former Justice Department Mafia-fighters from the Nixon-era recalled a time when major parties were able to work together far better than now to craft useful legislation. Among other things, those valuable laws broke the power of the Mafia with enhanced enforcement tools (such as federal wiretaps) that devastated the mob even while being far more carefully supervised by the courts than now. We’ll write separately later to review those historic law enforcement victories.

For now, the big news this week is how our era’s federal law enforcers are proceeding so erratically that they recklessly destroy public confidence that their predecessors earned for the justice system. Read legal commentator Roger Shuler's summary June 13 of the most recent legal shenanigans in Alabama over the weekend -- and remember that the Justice Department (emphasis added !!) wants to avoid courtroom questioning of whether a two-term governor illegally received $13 million from gamblers. Shuler, a blogger in Birmingham, wrote:

In a decision that should surprise no one, a federal magistrate ruled yesterday that former Alabama Governor Bob Riley will not have to testify in the federal bingo trial that heats up today with the calling of the first witness in Montgomery....The bingo trial is a national story because it grew largely from $13 million that Mississippi Choctaw gaming interests spent to help get Riley elected in 2002. Those funds reportedly were laundered through Republican felons Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon, meaning the bingo trial touches heavily on perhaps the worst political scandal in American history.Robert S. Muellar

Here in Washington, it's clear that Congress has become so immersed in fund-raising and related scandals that its members do next to nothing these days in terms of meaningful oversight on such matters. The DOJ, with increasing access to wiretap information and vast freedom to select among a large array of  politicians for indictment, increasingly ignores oversight requests from Congress on sensitive matters. Moreover, the New York Times just reported, F.B.I. Agents Get Leeway to Push Privacy Bounds. This should prompt  alarms -- particularly in view of the Obama administration's effort reported last month to extend the term of FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, right, for two years. His retirement date is next October under a 10-year limit. The limit is to prevent the kind of abuses created by longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover because of his organization's vast power to collect unsavory information on politicians and ordinary citizens alike. Why ignore the reason for term-limits exactly when authorities are vastly increasing their surveillance powers? NSA and other whistleblowers say surveillance in violation of historic constitutional rights involves collecting and storing billions of emails and phone calls of U.S. citizens. The rationale to the public is terror control. But it's really information control.

From our perch at the non-partisan Justice Integrity Project located just two blocks from FBI and DOJ headquarters, we learn repeatedly of allegations of serious wrongdoing by public officials (both inside and out of the Justice Department) with scant apparent follow-up by authorities. At the same time, the public sees massive overreaching by authorities who use legally questionable methods to crush certain defendants, some of whom are merely small fry accused of small-time crime. Moreover, several of the nation’s most notorious federal prosecutors are repeatedly implicated in the most questionable cases, raising more questions about the process and internal review procedures. Read the news round-up below from recent days, and you be the judge.

Thomas DrakeIn Maryland, federal authorities humiliated themselves by having settled for a misdemeanor plea deal June 10 with former National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Drake, right. The plea deal (whereby the defendant agreed merely to using a government computer in excess of authorization) showed the Justice Department’s shocking lack of proportion after it indicted Drake last year on felony charges that could have put the put the 64-year-old in prison for 35 years. Drake was suspected of communicating with a newspaper reporter to expose NSA’s vast waste of money. The government’s case was led by former DOJ Public Integrity Section Chief William Welch, II. In 2008, Welch led the prosecution team that illegally withheld evidence that Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens should have received to prepare for his trial on corruption charges. The presiding judge demanded that Welch’s superiors investigate him and his team. The DOJ vacated the convictions against the now-deceased senator, but has kept Welch and his colleagues on high-profile cases.

George HoldingIn North Carolina, longtime Republican prosecutor George E.D. Holding, left, resigned June 10 as U.S. attorney for North Carolina’s Eastern District after securing a federal indictment under questionable circumstances of former North Carolina senator and 2008 Presidential candidate John Edwards. Edwards was charged with felony campaign violations for payments by friends to his mistress, Rielle Hunter and a former Edwards aide cover up the extra-marital affair. Clearly, Edwards acted in a despicable manner, thus making him one of the great scoundrels in U.S. public life of recent years – no small feat. But as a legal matter, the charges are questionable and perhaps unprecedented because the funding was not clearly campaign expenditure. Whatever the case on that, the charges are further tainted by their filing after an investigation partly under the supervision of Holdings, a former aide to the late Republican Senator Jesse Helms. Holdings led several notorious Bush-era political prosecutions against prominent Democrats, helping illustrate the scandalous purpose of the 2006 Bush political purge of U.S. attorneys to shape how those in the powerful regional posts would use the justice system.

In Mississippi, U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate continued the injustice of the Bush-era prosecution of Democratic fund-raiser and trial attorney Paul by continuing to imprison the defendant and two co-defendants. Minor was convicted of corruption in extending loans to Mississippi judges even though judges seek donations under the state's election system and prosecutors failed to show explicit quid pro quo. Wingate, a Republican judge, said any error was harmless. Oliver Diaz, a Republican who was unfairly swept up in the case when he was a Supreme Court justice but who twice won acquittal, has explained in detail in interviews on our website and elsewhere why the prosecution tactics were unfair. HBO features his story in a movie later this month, as amplified below. In 2003, huge media coverage in Mississippi of the prosecution helped propel former Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour with 52.6 percent of the vote into the governor's mansion, where he remains in power.

In Alabama, a federal magistrate-judge ruled June 12 that gambling industry defendants in a major legislative corruption trial could not call as a defense witness former two-term Alabama Gov. Bob Riley. The judge sustained Justice Department objections that the Republican former governor’s testimony was not relevant to the defense of longtime Alabama gambling entrepreneur and political power broker Milton McGregor. In a probe lead by Alabama Middle District U.S. Attorney Leura Canary until he recent retirement and former Stevens prosecutor Brenda Morris, among others, McGregor is accused of bribing state senators and others to pass legislation affirming the legality of electronic bingo. Riley, an outspoken opponent of gambling, shut down the electronic bingo parlors but was alleged during the Jack Abramoff investigation to have received some $13 million in hidden contributions from Mississippi casino interests to protect their turf. There’s scant evidence that federal authorities have ever called witnesses to investigate either the gambling money claims against Riley or potential wrongdoing by him, Canary and others to frame Riley’s 2002 Democratic opponent, former Gov. Don Siegelman, on corruption charges.

George BeckEach of these matters deserves much more in-depth treatment than provided in this article, which is supplemented below by excerpts from recent, relevant news stories. Regarding Alabama alone, our Justice integrity Project has been writing articles for more than two years about the mindboggling scandals, including some $300 million in long-secret federal funding to a company that Siegelman’ s presiding judge controlled as its largest shareholder. We published also a four-part series this spring describing why President Obama’s nomination of Alabama attorney George Beck to become Canary’s successor creates the appearance of a massive, bipartisan cover-up of official wrongdoing. Beck was the defense attorney for Nick Bailey, the justice department’s star witness in framing Siegelman.

One of the distinguishing features of the modern justice system is that few people, aside from an occasional federal judge, whistleblower or activist, are ever in a position to create a meaningful protest even when federal authorities commit blatantly illegal acts or otherwise undermine public confidence. . That’s why we repeatedly underscore new developments in important cases even though books illustrated how the scope of wrongdoing is vastly greater than we can cover here on the web.

To recap: Drake is a high-level whistleblower, trying to save taxpayers millions of dollars being wasted by influential NSA superiors and contractors. Edwards is an easy target because of his disgraceful personal behavior. Siegelman is free on bond and facing resentencing by his original 2006 trial judge following a decade of investigation and appeals. His case, ostensibly about his corruption in seeking donations to a non-profit advocating education, is really about political power, military contracts and a corrupt justice system activated to help extremely powerful individual in an inner circle that by now encompasses both parties. In this, the Siegelman case and the Beck appointment represent the ultimate Pandora’s Box of our justice system, which leaders of both parties must now keep tightly shut for their own preservation. 

Regarding activists who might dare protest wrongdoing, the Washington Post published a front-page report June 14 that the Justice Department has mounted “a mysterious, ongoing nationwide terrorism investigation with an unusual target: prominent peace activists and politically active labor organizations.” The paper further reported,  “The probe – involving subpoenas to 23 people and raids of seven homes last fall – has triggered a high-powered protest against the Department of Justice and, in the process, could create some political discomfort for President Obama with his union supporters as he gears up for his reelection campaign.”

Who’s left to complain? Siegelman, now 65, and facing a judge who hates him? Edwards, the disgraced pol?  Stevens, killed in an airplane crash? Drake, forced out of work, and now facing sentencing? You be the judge.


Writing of the collapsed Drake case, Harper’s contributor Scott Horton wrote that the Justice Department’s ability to salvage a misdemeanor plea “demonstrates the tremendous power that it wields—a power sufficient to compel an innocent and righteous man to plead guilty to a charge of which he is obviously innocent.” In words of even wider applicability, Horton wrote (in a column last week cited more thoroughly below), “The department’s failure to investigate fraud and abuse in this sector, and its decision to lavish precious resources on the persecution of those who spotlight corruption suggests that its clientism has supplanted its fidelity to the Constitution and laws.”

Contact the author Andrew Kreig or comment

Below are significant articles on legal reform and related political, security and media factors. The articles, including a strong representation from independent blogs and other media, contain a sample of news. See the full article by cvisting the home page, and visiting News Reports.

Maryland
Harpers / No Comment, Prosecution of NSA Whistleblower Collapses, Scott Horton, June 10, 2011. The Obama Administration’s highly touted effort to prosecute Thomas A. Drake, a former senior National Security Agency official, for violations of the Espionage Act due to his disclosure of pervasive fraud, waste, and abuse connected with a $1-billion surveillance-technology contract has collapsed in a federal court in Baltimore. The Justice Department’s use of the Espionage Act to menace legitimate whistleblowers raises troubling questions about its ability to make reasoned prosecutorial judgments in this area. Its actions reveal contempt for whistleblowers and the statutes Congress enacted to protect them, and a posture of servility towards the government’s national security apparatus. The judge should reject the plea bargain and dismiss the case. And the Justice Department should take this as an opportunity to reassess its failed strategies in the troubled area where civil liberties and national security interests converge.

Washington Post, Ex-NSA manager has reportedly twice rejected plea bargains in Espionage Act case, Ellen Nakashima, June 9, 2011. Thomas A. Drake, the former National Security Agency manager who is facing trial on Espionage Act charges in what appears to be a greatly weakened government case, has refused twice to accept the government’s offers of a plea bargain, according to people following the case.  Drake, 54, on Wednesday morning rejected prosecutors’ offers to plead guilty to a misdemeanor with no jail time — just a few days before the trial is set to begin Monday.

Washington Post, Case against ex-NSA manager accused of mishandling classified files narrows, Ellen Nakashima, June 8, 2011. Federal prosecutors will withdraw key documents from their case against a former National Security Agency manager charged with mishandling classified material, a move that experts say could signal the unraveling of one of the Obama administration’s most prominent efforts to punish accused leakers.

Daily Kos, Case Against NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake Imploding, Jesselyn Radack, June 9, 2011. WaPo and The New Yorker are reporting that the prosecutors have offered NSA whistleblower Tom Drake a plea to reduced charges, but that Drake is refusing.

North Carolina

Michaek CollinsOpEd News, The Edwards Prosecution -- They have better things to do, Michael Collins, left, June 6, 2011. The Edwards prosecution is a mockery of justice.  The cast of characters consists of people who should have recused themselves rather than bringing a prosecution. Like the nonstop assault on Don Siegelman, it suggests other motives. Why don't they go after the Wall Streeters and big banks?

Main Justice, Behind John Edwards Indictment, A Prosecutor's Political History, Channing Turner, June 8, 2011. The North Carolina U.S. Attorney behind the campaign finance indictment of John Edwards has a history of financial contributions and support for Edwards's political opponents, according to Main Justice review.

Associated Press / Huffington Post, George Holding Resigning: John Edwards Investigation Prosecutor Quitting After Indictment, Emery P. Dalesio, June 10, 2011. A federal prosecutor announced his resignation Friday after staying in his North Carolina post three years into President Barack Obama's administration to avoid disrupting investigations into former presidential candidate John Edwards and former North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley. George E.B. Holding will step down as U.S. attorney for eastern North Carolina on July 8 after five years in the office. U.S. Sens. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and Richard Burr, R-N.C., had agreed on Holding's replacement but wanted the appointee of former President George W. Bush to stay in office until the investigations into the two high-profile Democrats were complete.

Mississippi

Paul MinorLegal Schnauzer, Judge In Paul Minor Case Continues His Evil Ways, Roger Shuler, June 14, 2011. The biggest problems with our justice system involve people, not process. For the most part, the actual law makes sense, at least to me. Our system has become a sewer because of the people--lawyers; judges; even clerks, in some cases--who are supposed to apply the law, but instead act in a corrupt fashion. That's not to say, however, that the system itself doesn't have some perverse qualities. And two of them are on display this week in the Paul Minor case in Mississippi.

Henry WingateJackson Clarion-Ledger, Minor sentencing: Reduction is apt, Editorial board, June 14, 2011.  U.S. District Court Judge Henry T. Wingate reduced the federal bribery conviction of ex-attorney Paul Minor on Monday to eight years from 11. A federal appeals court had vacated the bribery convictions of former Gulf Coast attorney Minor and former Harrison County judges Wes Teel and John Whitfield but upheld the guilty verdicts on corruption charges. Wingate denied requests by Minor, Teel and Whitfield to be re-sentenced to time served. But he reduced their sentences, with Teel to four years and Whitfield about six, all less than previous. The crux of the argument for Minor and the others is that while they may have violated federal laws, they may have been operating legally under state laws. The confusion comes about since Mississippi law is so lax: Giving cash and loans to judges - as "campaign contributions" - is legal. The 11-year sentence given to Minor by Wingate originally was especially harsh. The reduction in light of the vacated charges was merited, but the sentences remain tough.

Oliver DiazSun Herald (Biloxi-Gulfport, MS), Oliver Diaz’s story featured in HBO documentary, Anita Lee, June 14, 2011. Oliver Diaz Jr. remembers the moment he realized judicial races had changed for good in Mississippi. He was watching morning television, probably as he dressed for a day of campaigning in his state Supreme Court race. The announcer said, “Oliver Diaz is taking thousands of dollars from Mississippi trial lawyers,” as bags filled with money landed on a judge’s bench. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sponsored the ad, he noted at the time. The 2000 campaign, and Diaz’s subsequent legal ordeal, are featured in a documentary that will air June 27 on HBO. The documentary, called “Hot Coffee,” attempts to show how corporate America distorted the image of justice in a concerted campaign to limit jury awards against businesses, and to limit individual access to the courts.  Diaz’s experience illustrates the money and energy corporate America has spent to elect sympathetic judges. Novelist John Grisham also is interviewed for “Hot Coffee.” The native Mississippian based his best-selling novel, “The Appeal,” on Diaz’s 2000 Supreme Court race. It tells the story of an incumbent Supreme Court candidate beaten by a newcomer whom a businessman backed, in order to prevail in a pollution case.

Alabama
Legal Schnauzer, Bob Riley Might Not Be Out of the Woods on Testifying About Abramoff in Alabama Bingo Trial, Roger Shuler, June 13, 2011. Could this be another step in a high-level effort to make sure the public never knows the full extent of the Jack Abramoff scandal? At first glance, Sunday's ruling smells of the usual political maneuvering and judicial corruption that has come to mark federal courts in Alabama. But upon further review, the finding from U.S. Magistrate Judge Terry Moorer might not be a complete victory for Riley.

CBS 42 (Birmingham, AL) / Associated Press, Judge: Gov. Riley can't be subpoenaed for trial, June 13, 2011. A judge has blocked efforts by casino owner Milton McGregor to subpoena former Gov. Bob Riley to testify in the government corruption of McGregor and eight others. U.S. Magistrate Judge Terry Moorer issued his order Sunday night in Montgomery. The judge ruled McGregor's lawyers failed to show the relevancy of Riley's testimony, but he left open the possibility that they could try for another subpoena later if trial testimony shows Riley might have relevant testimony. Riley's attorney, Matt Lembke, says the judge's order confirms there was no reason to subpoena Riley. He said the investigation was begun by the Justice Department under President Obama's administration and the former Alabama governor had nothing to do it. The judge also blocked efforts to subpoena three state police officials from Riley's administration.

Associated Press / Tuscaloosa News, Defense seeks Riley in bingo trial; Testimony wanted due to investigation, casino shutdown overlap, Phillip Rawls, June 12, 2011. A defense attorney said Saturday he wants to call former Gov. Bob Riley as a witness in the trial of indicted casino owner Milton McGregor as he tries to show that Riley’s efforts to shut down electronic bingo casinos were coordinated with the FBI’s investigation of McGregor and others accused of buying and selling votes on pro-gambling legislation. “We’ve got a lot of information on these things being tied together,” attorney Joe Espy told U.S. Magistrate Judge Terry Moorer.

Birmingham News, Witness list in bingo trial sounds like roster of prominent State House players, Kim Chandler, June 6, 2011. Potential jurors in the bingo vote-buying case this morning heard a list of potential witnesses that reads like a roster of prominent Alabama State House players. Lawyers read their list of witnesses to potential jurors to determine whether any members of the panel were related to or knew of them.

Montgomery Advertiser, Canary to step down as US attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, Matt Okarmus, May 27, 2011. Leura G. Canary retires today from her position as U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama after more than two decades with the Department of Justice  "I've had a wonderful career," Canary said. Canary was appointed interim U.S. attorney in September 2001.

Main Justice,
Leura Canary, One of the Last Bush US Attorneys, to Retire, Andrew Ramonas, May 26, 2011. One of the last remaining U.S. attorneys appointed by President George W. Bush will resign Friday.  Leura Canary, who has led the Middle District of Alabama U.S. Attorney’s Office since 2001, has no immediate plans for her career after she steps down as U.S. Attorney. Canary alienated many Democrats in Alabama for what they considered a politically motivated prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (D).

Justice Integrity Project, Senate Must Grill Tainted Alabama DOJ Nominee: Part I, Andrew Kreig, April 5, 2011. President Obama ended more than two years of high-profile White House indecision March 31 by naming the prominent Alabama attorney George L. Beck as his nominee to become U.S. attorney for the state’s Montgomery-based middle district. Despite an impressive career overall, Beck is a horrible choice because he was a compliant defense attorney in the notorious prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman’s, the state’s leading Democrat. Beck’s role in that travesty further destroys public confidence in that long-troubled DOJ office. At the minimum if confirmed, Beck must recuse himself and all of the most prominent staff at DOJ's Montgomery offices from the Siegelman case and every spin-off public corruption probe. The more logical outcome, however, is for the Senate Judiciary Committee to grill Beck, right, and other relevant witnesses to bring out all relevant facts, and then block Beck’s nomination because of his conflict of interest.

National News
New York Times, F.B.I. Agents Get Leeway to Push Privacy Bounds, Charlie Savage, June 12, 2011. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is giving significant new powers to its roughly 14,000 agents, allowing them more leeway to search databases, go through household trash or use surveillance teams to scrutinize the lives of people who have attracted their attention. The F.B.I. soon plans to issue a new edition of its manual, called the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, according to an official who has worked on the draft document and several others who have been briefed on its contents. The new rules add to several measures taken over the past decade to give agents more latitude as they search for signs of criminal or terrorist activity.

Cato /On Liberty, FBI’s New Guidelines Further Loosen Constraints on Monitoring, Julian Sanchez, June 14, 2011. The New York Times‘s Charlie Savage reports that the FBI is preparing to release a new Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG), further relaxing the rules governing the Bureau’s investigation of Americans who are not suspected of any wrongdoing. This comes just three years after the last major revision of FBI manual, which empowered agents to employ a broad range of investigative techniques in exploratory “assessments” of citizens or domestic groups, even in the absence of allegations or evidence of wrongdoing, which are needed to open an “investigation.” The FBI assured Congress that it would conduct intensive training, and test agents to ensure that they understood the limits of the new authority—but the Inspector General found irregularities suggestive of widespread cheating on those tests.

Washington Post, Activists cry foul over FBI probe, Peter Wallsten, June 13, 2011. FBI agents took box after box of address books, family calendars, artwork and personal letters in their 10-hour raid in September of the century-old house shared by Stephanie Weiner and her husband. The agents seemed keenly interested in Weiner’s home-based business, the Revolutionary Lemonade Stand, which sells silkscreened infant bodysuits and other clothes with socialist slogans, phrases like “Help Wanted: Revolutionaries.”  The probe — involving subpoenas to 23 people and raids of seven homes last fall — has triggered a high-powered protest against the Department of Justice and, in the process, could create some political discomfort for President Obama with his union supporters as he gears up for his reelection campaign.

FireDogLake, Prison Privatization as Political Payback, Lee A. Saunders, June 15, 2011. Across the country, politicians have been selling off public assets to private businesses in exchange for hefty campaign contributions and sweetheart deals. The politicians claim they are saving tax dollars, but when the real costs are examined, it’s only the corporations – who back them financially at election time – who are making a financial killing on the deals.  This kind of corrupt pay-back to wealthy corporate-CEOs has produced numerous disasters for taxpayers, who end up paying more in the long run. Nowhere has this “pay and play” scandal been more outrageous than in the recurring efforts of some governors to privatize their state prisons.  They sell the prisons to private contractors – including the GEO Group, Corrections Corporation of America, and the Management & Training Corporation – who then cut corners on safety, health and services.  Some contractors refuse to take the most hardened criminals or those who are in need of medical and psychological services.  Even without those prisoners, they run up costs to increase their profits.

Huffington Post, White House Poised To Take On Judicial Vacancy 'Crisis,' Jennifer Bendary, June 13, 2011. In February, White House counsel Bob Bauer warned that the political standoff over judicial nominees was threatening the very fabric of government. There are nearly 90 federal court vacancies, some of which have been empty for more than three years. The result is a judiciary so bogged down with delays, particularly along the Southwestern border, that the quality of proceedings is suffering and judges are routinely putting civil cases on the back burner in order to try to clear their criminal dockets.

Washington Post, Elite Justice team walks prosecutorial tightrope, Jerry Markon, June 12, 2011. The Justice Department’s decision to charge former presidential candidate John Edwards with campaign finance violations drew criticism from legal experts, including some former prosecutors, that the case was too aggressive. In the months before the indictment, the Justice Department took flak from government watchdogs for dropping corruption investigations of members of Congress. They argued that the government was not aggressive enough, and gun-shy from the collapse of its case against the late senator Ted Stevens.

SGlenn Greenwaldalon Unclaimed Territory, WikiLeaks Grand Jury investigation widens, Glenn Greenwald, June 9, 2011. Last month, I reported that the FBI had served a Cambridge resident with a subpoena compelling his testimony in the active Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, and that the subpoena revealed a very broad scope to the criminal investigation. This latest subpoena reveals how active the criminal investigation is and how committed the Obama administration is to criminally pursuing the whistleblowing site. It is not hyperbole to say that the Obama administration is waging an all-out war against transparency and whistleblowing.

IWatch News / Politico, Obama donors net government jobs, Fred Shulte, john Aloysius Farrell and Jeremy Borden, June 15, 2011.  More than two years after Obama took office vowing to banish “special interests” from his administration, nearly 200 of his biggest donors have landed plum government jobs and advisory posts, won federal contracts worth millions of dollars for their business interests or attended numerous elite White House meetings and social events, an investigation by iWatch News has found. These “bundlers” raised at least $50,000 — and sometimes more than $500,000 — in campaign donations for Obama’s campaign. Many of those in the “Class of 2008” are now being asked to bundle contributions for Obama’s reelection, an effort that could cost $1 billion.

Politico, Carney defends jobs for donors, Carrie Budoff Brown and Abby Phillip, June 15, 2011.  Donors to President Barack Obama’s campaign did not receive special treatment in winning jobs, advisory positions and contracts with the administration, the White House said Wednesday, pushing back on a report that many top fundraisers have enjoyed the spoils of his victory.  “We stand by all of our appointments,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily briefing. “We believe they are enormously qualified for the jobs.”

POLITICO published an investigation Wednesday by the Center for Public Integrity’s iWatch News that found that, less than three years into the Obama administration, nearly 200 of the president’s biggest donors have landed plum government jobs and advisory posts, won federal contracts worth millions of dollars for their business interests or attended numerous elite White House meetings and social events.  By contrast, former President George W. Bush had appointed only about 200 so-called bundlers to administration posts over his eight years in office.