- - Monday, October 22, 2012

Outside political groups are spending nearly the same as congressional campaigns themselves in about two dozen competitive elections this year.

A study released Monday finds super PACs and other independent groups dropped about $24.8 million on ads affecting the 25 most-competitive House races. That’s compared with about $24.9 million that the candidates’ campaigns have spent on the airwaves.

New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice finds the phenomenon affects Democrats and Republicans. It also finds Democratic candidates are more often reliant on donors who give in smaller amounts.

Super PACs are flourishing this election thanks to loosened rules that allow them to raise and spend unlimited sums of cash. Those groups and other nonprofits are driving the presidential election alone to cost about $2 billion.

CIA

Ex-CIA officer likely to plead guilty in leak case

A former CIA officer accused of leaking the names of covert operatives to journalists is expected to enter a guilty plea as part of a plea deal.

A change of plea hearing was scheduled for Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria for John Kiriakou. He initially pleaded not guilty to the charges that he disclosed the names of two covert CIA operatives.

The apparent change comes shortly after Mr. Kiriakou lost a key pretrial ruling that established a lower legal burden for prosecutors to prove their case. Mr. Kiriakou’s lawyers had argued unsuccessfully that prosecutors should have to prove that Mr. Kiriakou intended to harm the U.S. through his alleged leaks. Such a strict legal standard had been imposed recently on a leaks prosecution against two pro-Israel lobbyists.

But U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema ruled last week that such a high standard should not apply to Mr. Kiriakou, a government employee with top-secret security clearances who knew well the dangers of disclosing classified information.

Instead, prosecutors would only have to show that Mr. Kiriakou had “reason to believe” that the information could be used to injure the U.S.

Court records do not make clear exactly what charges Mr. Kiriakou would plead to. When he was indicted in April, he was charged with one count of disclosing classified information identifying a covert agent, three counts of illegally disclosing national defense information and one count of making false statements. He faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted on all counts in the indictment.

ILLINOIS

Rush: Ailing Jackson en route to Mayo

CHICAGO — An Illinois congressman who visited ailing Congressman Jesse L. Jackson Jr. says the Chicago Democrat looks good but is in fragile condition.

Congressmen Bobby L. Rush and Danny K. Davis visited Mr. Jackson at his Washington home Monday for about an hour.

Mr. Rush told the Associated Press they decided to visit after talking with Mr. Jackson’s family. Mr. Rush said Monday that Mr. Jackson was en route Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic, which released him last month following treatment for bipolar disorder.

Mr. Jackson’s father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, said Sunday his son would return to Mayo for a checkup but might stay longer.

A Mayo spokesman says Mr. Jackson isn’t a current patient.

Mr. Jackson hasn’t said when he’ll return to work. He faces re-election Nov. 6.

CAMPAIGN

Obama wins by landslide in youth online election

NEW YORK — It’s a landslide for President Obama — at least among people too young to vote.

Nickelodeon’s Linda Ellerbee said Monday that the president captured 65 percent of the vote to beat Republican Mitt Romney in the network’s “Kids Pick the President” vote. More than 520,000 people cast online ballots through the children’s network’s website over one week earlier this month.

Since the poll began in 1988, the children have presaged the adults’ vote all but once, when more youngsters voted for John F. Kerry over George W. Bush in 2004.

Mr. Obama answered questions submitted by Nickelodeon viewers for a special earlier this month. Mr. Romney didn’t participate.

MISSOURI

Akin aide uses profanity in shot at McCaskill

FESTUS — An aide to W. Todd Akin on Monday used a profanity in a tweet to extend the GOP Senate hopeful’s weekend analogy comparing Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill to a “dog” who fetches problems from Washington. Meanwhile, Mrs. McCaskill launched a campaign tour with a series of small-town stops aimed at improving her showing in rural Missouri.

The PoliticMo.com website recorded Mr. Akin’s comments at a Saturday night fundraiser.

“She goes to Washington, D.C., and it’s a little bit like, you know, one of those dog [games], ‘fetch,”’ Mr. Akin said.

“She goes to Washington, D.C., and gets all of these taxes and red tape and bureaucracy and executive orders and agencies and she brings all of this stuff and dumps it on us in Missouri,” Mr. Akin added. “And it seems to me that she’s got it just backwards. What we should be doing is taking the common sense that we see in Missouri and taking that to Washington, D.C., and blessing them with some solutions instead of more problems.”

Mrs. McCaskill, at a rally of supporters in Festus, Mo., didn’t address the dog comment but said her campaign strategy for the final two weeks before the election is to “just keep Todd Akin talking.” Afterward, she told reporters the comment was “unfortunate.”

Later Monday, Akin senior campaign adviser Rick Tyler tweeted, “If Claire McCaskill were a dog, she’d be a ‘Bullshitsu.’”

DELAWARE

Former candidate charged with child sex abuse

DOVER — A Republican who recently dropped out of a state Senate race for personal reasons was indicted Monday on charges of child sexual abuse.

A Sussex County grand jury returned an indictment charging Eric Bodenweiser, 53, of Georgetown with 39 counts of unlawful sexual intercourse and 74 counts of unlawful sexual contact.

Mr. Bodenweiser turned himself in to state police, was arraigned and was being held at the Sussex Correctional Institution on $250,000 secured bail, according to the state attorney general’s office.

State police began investigating Mr. Bodenweiser several weeks ago after receiving information that he had sexually abused a child. Prosecutors allege that he committed the crimes from October 1987 to August 1990. The child’s age and sex were not immediately available.

Mr. Bodenweiser notified state Republican Party Chairman John Sigler on Oct. 12 that he was suspending his campaign for 19th District Senate seat. Mr. Bodenweiser formally dropped out of the race last week.

The Sussex County Republican Committee subsequently threw its support behind write-in candidate Brian Pettyjohn, Georgetown’s former mayor and a former councilman.

Mr. Bodenweiser was a tea party-backed candidate whose supporters included former U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell. He upset incumbent Sen. Joseph W. Booth in the Republican primary.

CONNECTICUT

GOP’s McMahon ad targets Obama voters

HARTFORD — GOP Senate candidate Linda McMahon is courting ticket-splitters in a new ad in which four supporters of President Obama, who has a double-digit lead in the state, say they also will cast ballots for her. Her campaign strongly denied she was writing off Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, saying she supports the former Massachusetts governor “100 percent.”

“Linda McMahon will work with President Obama and I believe he’ll work with her,” says one of the voters in the ad, David Cole, a disabled veteran who said he plans to vote for the Republican on the independent line in November. Mrs. McMahon’s name will appear as both the Republican and the independent candidate.

Nonsense, said Rep. Christopher S. Murphy, the Democrat in the race once thought to have a better shot at winning.

“This is one of the strangest political ads I have ever seen because we know that Linda McMahon is going to oppose President Obama on everything that he stands for. She’s told us that, over and over again,” said Mr. Murphy, referring to the Republican candidate’s calls to repeal and replace Mr. Obama’s health care legislation and her opposition to his positions on energy reform and tax policy. “I mean, there is almost nothing Linda McMahon agrees with President Obama on, which makes this ad absolutely deceitful.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports