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INSIDE POLITICS

The Washington Times' political blog.

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Senator: Pentagon spent billions on contractors that committed fraud

The Defense Department paid $285 billion to hundreds of military contractors that defrauded the Pentagon, according to a senator's analysis of a new Pentagon report. In a Defense report prepared for Sen. Bernard Sanders, the Vermont independent says the Pentagon spent $270 billion from 2007 to 2009 on 91 contractors involved in civil fraud cases that resulted in judgments of more than $1 million.

Mixed marks for Obama's Egypt response, poll says

Voters have given a mixed review to President Obama’s response to the crisis in Egypt, and many think United Nations involvement would make things worse, a new polls says. Results of a Rasmussen Reports national survey released Wednesday shows that 41 percent of likely voters rate the way the Obama administration has responded to the situation in Egypt as good or excellent. Twenty-two percent view the administration’s response so far as poor.

Poll: GOP voters value business experience

Good news for Mitt Romney? A new Rasmussen Poll just released shows most GOP primary voters want a presidential candidate with experience in both the public and private sector. The poll has 94 percent of likely GOP voters saying that private sector experience is at least somewhat important.

Senate ethics panel seeks help for Ensign inquiry

The Senate ethics committee has hired an outside attorney to help in its preliminary investigation of a sex and lobbying scandal involving Sen. John Ensign. The panel announced Tuesday that Carol Elder Bruce, a partner in the Washington office of the K&L Gates law firm, will serve as special counsel to the inquiry. She will work with the staff of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics as it examines if Ensign, a Nevada Republican, broke Senate rules and/or federal law, and whether a higher level of review is needed.

Chicago paper endorses Emanuel for mayor

The Chicago Sun-Times has endorsed Rahm Emanuel — President Obama‘s former chief of staff — as Chicago mayor, calling him an "adaptive politician" and a "high-minded man." In an editorial posted Sunday night on the newspaper's Web site, the Sun-Times said Emanuel "has the vision, the policies, the management experience, the political sophistication and the sheer force of personality to be a powerfully effective mayor."

Hands off Egypt, poll says

With the recent political unrest in Egypt showing no signs of waning, a sizable majority of Americans say the United States should keep its nose out of Egypt’s current problems, a new polls says. The Rasmussen Reports survey shows that only 7 percent of Americans surveyed say the U.S. should help the Egyptian government stay in power. Seventy percent say the U.S. should leave the situation alone, with 23 percent saying they aren’t sure what we should do.

Tardy senator draws dressing-down

Back home they were often superstars, governors, or state attorneys general, but here in Washington they are now just freshman senators — a lesson Sen. Richard Blumenthal learned on Monday when he got dressed down by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for being late to preside over the day's session.

Former Sen. Bayh lands law firm gig

Former Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, who retired from the Senate in early January, has taken a job with the law firm McGuireWoods as a partner in its Washington office. Bayh will serve as a strategic advisor to the firm’s most significant domestic and international clients — particularly those whose business goals are impacted by public policy, the actions of Congress, the executive branch or state governments nationwide, the firm announced Monday.

Democrats release list of targeted GOP seats

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this morning released its list of 25 GOP congressional seats the party thinks it can reclaim in 2012. As part of a campaign called the "Drive to 25," the DCCC will be running radio ads, web ads, automated phone calls, live calls and e-mails those districts this week.

Illinois lawmakers draft bill to keep Gitmo detainees put

Two Illinois Republican lawmakers have teamed up on legislation that would bar the use of federal money to move accused terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay to the United States. The bill, sponsored by newly minted Sen. Mark Kirk and two-term Rep. Aaron Schock, also would block the use of federal dollars for any future transfer of new foreign detainees to U.S. soil.

Santorum gears up for Iowa

Rick Santorum hasn't made it official yet, but it sure looks like he's making a run for the 21012 Republican presidential nomination. The Des Moines Register just reported this afternoon that the former Pennsylvania senator has hired a couple of key political advisors from Iowa.

Rubio adds former Cheney staffer

Freshman Sen. Marco Rubio has named veteran Washington insider Cesar Conda — a former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney and a longtime Capitol Hill staffer— as his chief of staff.