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Special Report

Employment Is Way Up For One Particular Group Thanks to President Obama

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Growing Group

President Obama said he would create jobs, and he definitely has at the White House, especially for lawyers. The Washington Times reports the Obama White House counsel's office is employing 41 attorneys, compared to 26 on staff at the end of President Bush's second term. That's a 57 percent jump.

The Bush administration increased its legal force from 16 lawyers in 2005, after Democrats took control of Congress and began investigating the executive branch. But the Obama administration is not dealing with the same scrutiny because Democrats control both Houses of Congress.

The report says the increase is due to the president's decision to move the vetting process under the control of White House counsel Greg Craig following a number of embarrassing disclosures that forced some of Mr. Obama's nominees for top government positions to withdraw.

Connection to Corruption

A former Defense Department employee with ties to Democratic Congressman John Murtha pleaded guilty Monday to making a false statement on a federal disclosure form. Mark O'Hair is the second defendant in a week to cop a plea and agree to cooperate with federal prosecutors looking into alleged corruption by defense contractors linked to Murtha. O'Hair faces up to 10 years behind bars.

Last week the chief executive of a defense contractor pleaded guilty to soliciting kickbacks from a subcontractor in Pennsylvania. Murtha had directed $4 million in federal funds to that man's company. And Murtha's younger brother was listed as a consulting lobbyist for the firm between 2004 and 2006.

Neither Congressman Murtha nor his brother are named in court documents pertaining to the two cases. But the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington lists Murtha as one of the 20-most corrupt members of Congress.

Energy Saver?

And the federal government is phasing out incandescent light bulbs in favor of a more energy efficient model known as the compact fluorescent bulb or CFL.

But the Washington Times reports those bulbs are posing a substantial risk to the environment. CFLs are powered by mercury and improper disposal can lead to pollution and the migration of the toxic material into groundwater. Some states, including California, have banned CFLs from regular trash.

But officials there estimate that less than 10 percent are disposed of properly. The 2007 energy bill requires incandescent light bulbs be discontinued in order to improve bulb efficiency by 200 percent by 2020. But there is no mandate for recycling or safe disposal, leaving those issues up to state and local governments.

— FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.