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In an interview with nationally syndicated radio host Michael Smerconish during the November 7 edition of MSNBC's Decision 2006: Battleground America, host Joe Scarborough baselessly suggested that the investigation into whether Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) used his position in Congress to improperly steer lucrative contracts to his daughter's lobbying firm was a "dirty trick" because the FBI launched the "investigation and [issued] a search warrant three weeks before voters go to the polls." Scarborough added: "[O]h, I'm sure that was just a coincidence." Smerconish later commented: "What I've always liked about Curt Weldon is his fierce independence, and I would just hate to think that he's legitimately jammed up now with the Justice Department." But contrary to Scarborough's suggestion that the FBI investigation of Weldon is politically motivated, the FBI is a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, which is part of the Bush administration and headed by Bush confidante Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.
When the story about the FBI investigation broke, Weldon baselessly blamed the influence-trading probe on "the left-wing, liberal attack machine" and, specifically, the nonprofit organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), as Media Matters for America noted.
From the 2 p.m. ET hour of the November 7 edition of MSNBC's Decision 2006: Battleground America:
SCARBOROUGH: Tricks have been going on for over 200 years in America, they just change forms every two years. Michael, talk about the state you're from, Pennsylvania. It looks like a bleak night, an especially bleak night for the GOP there, whether you are talking about the gubernatorial candidate, [Republican] Lynn Swann -- he's heading to a landslide defeat. Whether you're talking about [Republican] Rick Santorum, it looks like his Senate career is over. Or whether you're talking about Republican incumbent congressmen who were supposed to be safe just six months ago, they look like they're going down to defeat. What is happening in Pennsylvania?
SMERCONISH: Well, what I think is significant is that each of these candidates is going to rise and fall on their own merit. This is not some anti-Bush wave that will cause Rick Santorum to lose or [Democrat] Ed Rendell to win. You know, there are issues relative to Rick Santorum. Ed Rendell, on the gubernatorial side, is a very popular guy.
But if you look at our congressional races, Joe -- and I feel like I'm in New Hampshire, or I'm in Iowa, because this is really the eye of the storm, the Pennsylvania suburbs, where we have three competitive races. I don't think you could say that the GOP candidates each get wiped out. As a matter of fact, I think two of the three will continue to be held by Republicans. Only Curt Weldon might lose, and that's because of the issuance of search warrant on his daughter's home within the last three weeks. So, politics, it's still local, even in this campaign here.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Michael, you talking about dirty tricks. Yeah, you launch an FBI investigation and a search warrant three weeks before voters go to the poll. I'm sure that was just -- polls -- I'm sure that was just a coincidence.
SMERCONISH: I don't know. You know, it's hard for me to fathom where that comes from. I mean, Curt's a former fireman from the suburbs, a hard-charger, the kind of guy who will bang down your door or the door of the administration. What I've always liked about Curt Weldon is his fierce independence, and I would just hate to think that he's legitimately jammed up now with the Justice Department.