POLITICS
01/27/2012 06:12 pm ET Updated Mar 28, 2012

HUFFPOST HILL - Gingrich Pinning Hopes On Moon Bounce

Newt Gingrich's support is declining, though he'll gain ground later when those Moon delegates start to roll in. In what might be the most confusing Friday news dump ever, the government announced that it's helping people afford homes. And Elizabeth Warren continues her noble crusade to limit the influence of one percenters who unduly influence politics... like Elizabeth Warren. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, January 27th, 2012:

NEWT GINGRICH NOT FAZED BY ASSOCIATES' MURKY ETHICS - Roll Call: "Gingrich's Florida finance director has reportedly been questioned in connection with state and federal criminal probes involving alleged campaign finance violations. The top donor to a Gingrich-friendly super PAC runs a casino that also is under federal investigation. And Gingrich's top fundraising consultant happens to be his daughter...Gingrich's fat Rolodex and history of running lucrative political and consulting operations could help him compete financially with Romney, election analysts say, particularly if his campaign gains momentum. But Gingrich's fundraising tends to come at a high cost in terms of overhead and controversy. Gingrich's choice of scandal-plagued political consultant Esther Nuhfer to be his Florida finance director has raised some eyebrows in state GOP circles. Nuhfer has been interviewed by FBI agents and by criminal investigators in Miami and Tallahassee, according to Florida newspaper accounts, in connection with multiple gambling and campaign finance investigations." [Roll Call]

HuffPost Hill, along with Ben Craw and Jason Linkins put together a video reimagining the GOP primary debates as one long, hate fantasia

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Lianne Valenti lost her job as manager for a company that makes portable power generators last July. Valenti, who is 46 and lives in Long Beach, Calif., started drawing unemployment benefits and looking for a new job. She couldn't find one. "I worked my whole life," she said. "This was the first time it was like hitting a brick wall." She downsized her life to fit an income a quarter of its former size, moving in with her boyfriend and selling her car. "All these contracts, all these financial commitments you've made are suddenly really major." And she eventually lowered her sights from jobs that paid her former salary, applying instead for any kind of clerical position she could find. In October, she started having mild chest pains. Her health insurance had stopped; she could have continued her former employer's policy, but she said she couldn't afford the $600-plus premiums on a monthly income of $1,600 in unemployment insurance. She figured she'd have no luck finding a better deal on the notorious individual market (though it is possible a better deal was available -- there is no way to know now). She looked up her symptoms online instead of visiting a doctor. [HuffPost]

CLASS WAR PWNAGE - A Republican member of the Indiana General Assembly withdrew his bill to create a pilot program for drug testing welfare applicants Friday after one of his Democratic colleagues amended the measure to require drug testing for lawmakers. "There was an amendment offered today that required drug testing for legislators as well and it passed, which led me to have to then withdraw the bill," said Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville), sponsor of the original welfare drug testing bill. [HuffPost]

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION WANTS TO UNSUCK HAMP - Loren Berlin: "The federal government is taking another stab at helping struggling homeowners keep their homes by expanding its failed loan modification program. Many in the housing community said they think it's too little too late. Under new guidelines for the Home Affordable Modification Program, more borrowers will be eligible. The government will also encourage mortgage companies to forgive chunks of the debt borrowers owe, according to a statement Friday by the Treasury Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Yet the program remains voluntary both for banks and for mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Without compelling these institutions to act, the program is likely to remain impotent, most observers said. 'I view this as nothing more than election-year grandstanding, an attempt by the [Obama] administration to look like it's doing something to help homeowners,' said Melissa Huelsman, a private attorney who has represented homeowners for more than a decade." [HuffPost] For an angrier take: Naked Capitalism

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OBAMA AND BANKS CLOSE ON MORTGAGE FRAUD DEAL - Sam Stein and Zach Carter: "The Obama administration, state attorneys general, and, perhaps, the nation's largest banks are close to a final settlement on the years-long struggle over allegations of massive foreclosure fraud, according to several sources familiar with the talks. And the final details of the arrangement, according to the source who revealed them, will apparently not preclude prosecutors and regulators from taking legal action against many of the common abuses during the house bubble. It remains to be seen whether all parties will ultimately sign off on the language. The settlement is worth $25 billion, a sum which will be distributed to homeowners who were wrongfully foreclosed on as well as those who remain underwater. In addition, banks could still face future legal action over 12 specific violations." [HuffPost]

Did the minority party outraise the House majority?

WHITE HOUSE CTO STEPS DOWN - Be advised, all you @who.eop types: The next time you tell your tech guy that "I tried to open the thing but nothing happened," you might be telling it to a new tech guy. AOL Government: "One of the White House's leading forces for innovation, and the nation's first formally appointed chief technology officer, Aneesh Chopra, is stepping down from his position, the White House confirmed today. The Washington Post is reporting Chopra is expected to announce that he will run for lieutenant governor in Virginia, "according to Democrats familiar with his plan, but not authorized to speak publicly on the matter." News of Chopra's expected departure was initially reported by FedScoop." [AOL]

Want more news about the bureaucracy than you get from our Bored, Lazy, Overpaid Bureaucrat? Sign up for AOLgov's very, very insider email.

GOVERNMENT HOLDING THOUSANDS OF IMMIGRANTS WITHOUT CHARGES - Elise Foley: "On a single day this past fall, the United States government held 13,185 people in immigration detention who had not been convicted of a crime, some of whom will not be charged with one, according to information The Huffington Post obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Instead, at a cost of roughly 2 million taxpayer dollars per day, the men and women were detained while immigration authorities sorted out their fates. This case stands in stark contrast to the stated goal of immigration policy under the administration of President Barack Obama: to detain and deport unauthorized immigrants who've been convicted of crimes."...The FOIA request for information on all immigrants in detention on Oct. 3, 2011, turned up a list of nearly 32,300. Forty percent of those held by ICE had not been convicted of a crime, nor were they awaiting criminal trial. Despite what the term "illegal immigration" implies, simply being in the country without status is a civil, not a criminal, offense." [HuffPost]

Ice-T on Hillary Clinton: "She did the Secretary of State job, she was a G, she held it down, she didn't cry...Obama will support her...and she'll be the first woman president." [HuffPost]

ELIZABETH WARREN NOT GREAT AT COUNTING ZEROES BuzzFeed - "I realize there are some wealthy individuals -- I'm not one of them, but some wealthy individuals who have a lot of stock portfolios" she told him. Hard to see how Warren wouldn't be, by most standards, wealthy, according to the Personal Financial Disclosure form she filed to run for Senate shows that she's worth as much as $14.5 million. She earned more than $429,000 from Harvard last year alone for a total of about $700,000, and lives in a house worth $5 million. She also has a portfolio of investments in stocks and bonds worth as as much as $8 million, according to the form, which lists value ranges for each investment. The bulk of it is in funds managed by TIAA-CREF." [BuzzFeed]

Mitt Romney is up in Florida. Mark Blumethal: "Two new polls released on Friday confirm that Mitt Romney holds a comfortable lead in Florida's Republican primary, erasing the brief bump that Newt Gingrich enjoyed just after his South Carolina victory. The latest poll from the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, which interviewed 580 likely Republican primary voters from Tuesday through Thursday, finds Romney opening up a nine-point lead over Gingrich (38 to 29 percent), with Ron Paul (14 percent) and Rick Santorum (12 percent) running far behind...A second poll released on Friday by the Sunshine State News Service, fielded from Tuesday through Thursday among 865 likely primary voters, also finds Romney leading Gingrich by nine points (40 to 31 percent), followed by Santorum (12 percent) and Paul (9 percent)." [HuffPost]

BARNEY FRANK DOES WHAT ANY RECENTLY ENGAGED PERSON DOES: CALLS FOR MASSIVE DEFENSE CUTS - The Hill: "The White House should cut nearly twice the $487 billion by which it has committed to reducing the Pentagon's budget, said Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.) and three other liberal Democrats. They said the planned cuts, announced Thursday by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, don't go nearly far enough to reduce the defense budget. "The Cold War is long over, and no remotely comparable adversary has emerged or is likely to emerge,” the Democrats wrote in a letter to Obama. "We believe that savings of around $900 billion over the next 10 years can be realized … We ask you to take even bolder leadership on this issue as you finalize your budget.” Besides Frank, Reps. Barbara Lee (Calif.), Rush Holt (N.J.) and Lynn Woolsey (Calif.) signed on to the letter calling for deep spending cuts and the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan this year." [The Hill]

MoveOn.org made a Mitt parody video. Little did they know know that Michael Scott polls twenty points ahead of Mitt among independents.

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Doorstop, or puppy playtime fun machine? We report, you decide.

SAY GOODBYE TO THE PURPLE CAB - On HuffPost DC: "City officials seem to be settling on red and white as uniform colors for all taxicabs."

COMFORT FOOD

- Crowd goes wild for ball boy with spider sense. [http://bit.ly/zkYSw5]

- Guy throws guitar, wonders where guitar went. He's Still Waiting for it. Zing. [http://bit.ly/ApmHhE]

- Unicorn in a unitard on a unicycle. [http://bit.ly/AoSYfP]

- Internet puts a camera on... a lego-piloted balloon! [http://bit.ly/A4MeL1]

- Internet puts a camera on... doggies playing with other doggies! [http://bit.ly/xYqHnt]

- Internet puts a camera on... B&H store's crazy conveyor belt system. [http://bit.ly/zzKm18]

- Melodica covers of 90s pop songs are better than 90% of actual present-day pop songs. [http://bit.ly/AxsoPH]

- 24 + ER = Danger Hospital [http://bit.ly/zoHJLL]

- Super-sleepy animals are probably the most adorable kind of animal. [http://bit.ly/wwFs4k]

TWITTERAMA

@indecision: Mitt Romney owns four homes. Because the one thing he can't flip is a house.

@delrayser: Funny thing is, Mitt Romney can't be destroyed by conventional weapons either, but he can be disabled using an EMP.

ON TAP
By @christinawilkie

THIS WEEKEND

Saturday 5:00pm: If you're in Maine....well, Ron Paul's in Maine too, hosting a Town Hall in Alfred. [16 Saco Road, Alfred, Maine]

Saturday 6:00pm - 7:45pm: Need more deets on the moon colony? Newt Gingrich is the guest of honor at the Orange County Republicans Lincoln Day Dinner. [Rosen Shingle Creek Resort, 9939 Universal Blvd., Orlando, Fla.]

All Weekend: ApocalypTOON 2012 is an exhibit of top political cartoonists and their forecasts for 2012. It's this weekend only and it's free, so there's really no excuse. [Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va.]

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