The Upshot
  • crist ball

    Charlie Crist is going to need more than a Hail Mary pass to catch up to Marco Rubio in Florida's Senate race.

    As reported by the St. Petersburg Times' Adam Smith, the Florida governor has blown his once-sizable financial advantage in the race, spending $7.4 million in the last two months. He entered October with just $1.4 million in the bank, according to a newly filed campaign finance report. By comparison, Rubio reported $5.5 million cash on hand as of Sept. 30. Democrat Kendrick Meek, who runs a distant third in the race, began October with $415,000.

    This is beyond bad news for Crist, who led the race most of the summer but has seen his lead evaporate big time in the last six weeks. A CNN/Time Magazine poll out Wednesday found Rubio with a 14-point lead in the race, 46 percent to Crist's 32 percent (and Meek's 20 percent).

    Read More »from Crist is running low on cash in Florida’s Senate race
  • steeleThe Republican National Committee entered October with just $3.4 million cash in the bank, nearly $10 million less than the Democratic National Committee.

    According to a newly filed Federal Election Commission report, the RNC raised just $9.8 million in September, another disappointing month for the committee, which has struggled for months to raise funds under embattled Chairman Michael Steele. By comparison, the DNC raised nearly $17 million last month, a new party record, and ended September with just over $13 million in the bank.

    To make up the gap, the RNC took out a $2.5 million loan last month—part of a larger $15 million credit line that GOP officials approved in August. All told, the RNC ended the month with nearly $4.6 million in debts.

    In a statement Thursday, RNC spokesman Doug Heye defended the fundraising take, saying it was a decent total for a party that does not have control of either the White House or Congress. He also added that the RNC has raised $4.3 million since Oct. 1. By comparison, the DNC says it has raised $11 million.

    Read More »from More drama over cash flow for Steele and the RNC
  • BlackwaterBlackwaterThis week, the Justice Department announced that despite a lengthy investigation, it was dropping its case against Andrew Moonen, a Blackwater armorer who was accused of killing an Iraqi guard in 2006.  The news was just the latest example of how the government's efforts to prosecute employees of the controversial security contractor (which is now known as Xe Services) are falling apart, reports the New York Times.

    The key hurdle in the Moonen case appears to have been the fact that in the aftermath of the shooting, Moonen was interviewed not by the FBI but by a State Department unit that supervised Blackwater security guards in Iraq.  According to Moonen's lawyer, he was told in the interview that he'd be fired if he didn't give a statement, but that he couldn't be prosecuted for anything he said.  In the statement, Moonen admitted to shooting the guard but said he did so in self-defense.

    The Moonen case isn't unique.  The State Department is said to have given similar immunity to five Blackwater guards charged in the 2007 shooting deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad's Nisour Square.  Partly as a result, those charges were dismissed late last year, though the government is appealing.

    Read More »from Prosecutions of Blackwater military contractors going awry

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