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Scanlon Redux

Johns Hopkins University officials say they were not aware that they had an admitted felon defending his graduate thesis in the university’s government masters program in Washington, D.C. Maybe they just assumed Michael Scanlon was another hunky trust-fund baby and former lifeguard who needed another degree under his preppy belt.

Whatever the case, they apparently were not hip to the fact that one of the most prominent guilty players in the widening Jack Abramoff scandal successfully defended his thesis on Congressional ethics last week at the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, at least until we let the cat out of the bag in our May 3 column.

“I was not aware of the situation before I read it in your column,” university spokesman Dennis O’Shea told HOH on Monday. The irony of the situation — or “irony on steroids” as we dubbed it — was not lost on the school, but O’Shea said Johns Hopkins has no policy against admitted or convicted felons enrolling in its academic programs.

“He’s earned his degree and he will be awarded a diploma,” O’Shea said of Scanlon, whose graduate thesis, an “evaluative history of the House ethics process,” focused on the expulsion of the late Rep. Adam Clayton Powell (D-N.Y.).

Scanlon has pleaded guilty to conspiracy in the current Congressional corruption scandal. No word on when his sentencing will be.

Jewish-Christian Love Fest. A former top aide to Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) has just completed a book embracing the very people who tried to derail his ex-boss’ chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee: the Christian right.

The book is titled “Standing With Israel: Why Christians Support the Jewish State,” by David Brog, who until November 2005 served as chief counsel to Specter on the committee.

Brog said he had already written most of the book by the time the chairmanship battle rolled around. So he had developed relationships with conservative Christian leaders even before he helped Specter convince them to support his bid for Judiciary chairman. In fact, Brog suspects that’s why they ultimately dropped their hard-core opposition to Specter.

“Some of these relationships were helpful. These were people I could call and they would listen to me, without the suspicion that would usually greet someone from the Senator’s office,” Brog told HOH.

He noted that “a lot of these people ended up not speaking out against Specter,” and some “even said positive things.”

Israeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon and his wife, Anne Ayalon, are scheduled to host a book party this evening for Brog at their residence. In addition to representatives from AIPAC, the United Jewish Communities and local rabbis, several prominent conservative Christian leaders are expected to attend, including Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family.

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