Nation briefs 10/15/06

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Dems up against proven GOP turnout machine

WASHINGTON -- In the battle for control of Congress, Democrats hope enthusiasm trumps Republican efficiency. Otherwise, they concede, they will have problems on Nov. 7 as a party still struggling to catch up with the GOP's ability to turn voters out of seeming thin air. Democrats hope technology is not the deciding factor in the upcoming election that will determine the majority party in the House and Senate. Democrats need to gain 15 seats in the House and six in the Senate to knock Republicans from power. For now, at least, polls indicate Democrats have momentum on their side. Likely voters say they have a low opinion of Congress and favor Democrats over Republicans to control the House and Senate. These voters also say they trust Democrats more than Republicans to handle the economy and the situation in Iraq, although it is unclear whether that sentiment will carry over to Election Day.

Parents, 3 daughters found shot in Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Three high school girls and their parents were found dead Saturday morning at their home in eastern Iowa, and the couple's son was arrested in Illinois and considered a suspect, officials said. The victims were found shot at about 4 a.m. near Bonaparte, according to the Van Buren County sheriff's office. It was not immediately clear what prompted the slayings. Shawn Bentler, 22, was arrested Saturday in Quincy, Ill., on an unrelated charge of possession of drug paraphernalia, the Van Buren County sheriff's office said. The Iowa Department of Public Safety said he is a suspect in the slayings. Parents Michael Bentler, 53, and Sandra Bentler, 47, were found dead with their daughters Sheena Bentler, 17, Shelby Bentler, 15, and Shayne Bentler, 14, Van Buren County authorities said.

FBI probes Rep. Weldon, daughter's contracts

WASHINGTON -- The FBI is investigating whether Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., used his influence to secure lobbying and consulting contracts for his daughter, two people familiar with the inquiry said Saturday. The inquiry focuses on lobbying contracts worth $1 million that Weldon's daughter, Karen Weldon, obtained from foreign clients and whether they were assisted by the congressman, they said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the confidentiality of the criminal investigation. Weldon, a 10-term Republican from the Philadelphia suburbs, long has denied any wrongdoing, and his top aide said Saturday no one had notified him of an investigation.

-- From wire reports

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