Been down so long, it looks like up to me

With the Justice Department looking into her dealings with a felon of a defense contractor, Katherine Harris is forced to say she's not a target of the criminal probe.

Published July 19, 2006 1:56PM (EDT)

When you're down 33 points in the polls, when you've lost three campaign managers, when people who used to work for you feel comfortable going on the record with complaints that you fabricate stories, throw "tantrums" and treat staff "like garbage," when the latest news stories focus on your surgery for an ovarian mass and your decision to take $100,000 out of your campaign fund to redecorate your house, well, you've probably got to figure that things are about as bad as they're ever going to get.

But then, you're not Katherine Harris.

The former Florida secretary of state was forced to issue a statement Tuesday saying she isn't a "target" of a federal criminal investigation after press reports revealed that the Justice Department has sought records from Harris' U.S. Senate campaign regarding defense contractor Mitchell Wade.

Wade, you'll recall, is the Duke Cunningham co-conspirator who has already pleaded guilty to bribery charges -- and to a charge that he directed more than $30,000 in illegal contributions to Harris' House campaign in 2004. Ed Rollins, one of many Republican political operatives who used to work for Harris, tells the Orlando Sentinel that Justice Department investigators interviewed him recently about Harris' dealings with Wade. "I assume more [interviews] will be coming," Rollins says. "They were very serious."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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