John McCaslin

Longtime CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield (he has served in one or another public affairs capacity for nine CIA directors) is moving to a new assignment at the spy agency.

"As is frequently the case when new CIA directors take the helm, Director [Leon E.] Panetta had indicated shortly after being confirmed that he wanted to bring in his own person to head up public affairs," Mr. Mansfield writes to his contacts in the Fourth Estate.

"It has been said that doing public affairs work at the CIA is the ultimate oxymoron. I'm not convinced that's the case. But hardly a day passed when I didn't see the humor in - and incongruity of doing this sort of work for an espionage organization that, by necessity and in order to be successful, must keep certain matters secret."

Mr. Mansfield didn't say what his new CIA assignment would be. If he did, he probably would have to kill us.

CATCHING UP WITH AL

It's difficult to recall the 2004 Democratic presidential primary, given the personalities and duration of the 2008 battle in the party.

But who will ever forget the comic relief provided by the Rev. Al Sharpton during his 2004 bid for the White House?

Now, five years later, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has reached a settlement with the outspoken black preacher and his campaign totaling $285,000 in civil penalties. Also named in the settlement were campaign treasurer Andrew Rivera and, among other enterprises, the National Action Network, a nonprofit Mr. Sharpton founded and has served as president.

The FEC-initiated case stated that during his campaign, Mr. Sharpton traveled extensively yet routinely paid for his political stumping through his various business interests, including Rev-Als Production and Sharpton Media, which violates rules against corporate contributions.

An FEC audit and investigation revealed that National Action Network and other entities paid $387,192 in campaign expenses," according to the FEC. "Sharpton's sole proprietorships, Rev-Als Production and Sharpton Media LLC, also paid $214,577 in campaign travel expenses and an additional $65,000 came from unknown sources. None of these in-kind contributions were disclosed in the committee's disclosure reports."

In addition, Mr. Sharpton and his campaign have agreed to refund $10,500 in unresolved excessive contributions, disgorge $9,000 in excessive contributions and refund $181,115 to National Action Network or disgorge the funds to the U.S. Treasury.

IT'S NO WONDER

Wallet getting thin?


John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on Townhall.com and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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