WEINER'S HARD DRIVES
Over the weekend, House Democrat leaders were attempting to ascertain whether the hard drives of the computers used by embattled serial sexter Rep. Anthony Weiner had been seized and secured by the House Sergeant at Arms as part of an effort to determine whether government resources had been used for Weiner's online dalliances with women, including an underage female in Delaware.
Early last week, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters that a House ethics investigation would be taking place to determine if Weiner used computers, handheld devices, or cell phones provided by the House of Representatives -- or office space for that matter -- in his frequent online chats with women across the country.
"We know that he took photos of himself semi-nude or almost completely nude in the House gym and at least one other House facility that the public does not have access to," says a House Democrat leadership aide. "That alone might be enough to extend the ethics investigation, but it doesn't quite rise to use of the computer equipment in his House or district offices."
Most House members use at least two different Blackberrys -- one for official business, the other for personal and sometimes campaign or outside political effort -- and are often reminded by House security, leadership and the Sergeant at Arms office about using their communications devices for official use.
But some House Democrats fear that there is more to the Weiner story, and that the scandal may include more graphic material on computer hard drives. "Let's face it, guys that do this kind of stuff online, especially with minors, don't limit themselves to just photos of themselves and online chats," says the House Democrat leadership aide. "Our greatest concern is that those hard drives have either been wiped -- creating the impression of more serious coverups -- or that there is some really dirty garbage that takes this story to a whole other area. None of us wants to think about it, but we have to worry."
As of Sunday afternoon, the Minority Leader's office had not received confirmation that the computer drives had been secured.
On the same day that former Speaker of the House New Gingrich was seeing more than half of his senior Presidential campaign staff leave, Texas Gov. Rick Perry was holding meetings in Austin reviewing political and policy positions he's made over the past four years that could impact his entry into the GOP presidential primary field.
According to sources familiar with the meetings, the most damaging position -- according to polling -- is Perry's very vocal support for the Bush and Obama Administration's TARP and stimulus bills that racked up more than a trillion dollars in government spending.
"It's the kind of position that can't be excused by the tea party movement, and it's been a killer in polling," says a Perry supporter who has in the past advised Perry. "But it's not like Perry would be by himself."
Indeed, of the Republican candidates either declared or publicly considering a run for the GOP nomination, only former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Rep. Michele Bachmann, Rep. Ron Paul, and Rep. Thaddeus McCotter opposed the bank bailouts. McCotter at the time held the fourth-ranking leadership post in the House minority and led the fight against TARP, and Bachmann voted against TARP twice, despite the fact that the rest of House GOP leadership eventually supported the legislation.