The Politicker network of web sites—whose Washington State site, PolitickerWA, just this week broke the story that Pierce County exec and former AG candidate John Ladenburg is interested in a post in Obama's EPA—has been "shredded," according to one Politicker staffer. Of 17 state sites, 12 were shut down unexpectedly this morning, and at least 70 percent of Politicker staffers nationwide have been laid off. Laid-off staffers lost their email access and posting rights within an hour of an early-morning conference call announcing the cuts.

The surviving Politicker sites are Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and New Jersey—the original Politicker site. The official reason: The crappy economy, which has led to lousy ad sales and funding cutbacks. One possible unofficial reason: Expensive legal troubles for the Politicker sites' sugar daddy, NY Observer owner Jared Kushner, who was named in a lawsuit by a former employee of Kushner's father, real-estate mogul Charles Kushner, earlier this month. The ex-employee, Kevin Swill, has charged that the elder Kushner owes Swill nearly $5 million for work he did on a real-estate deal for Kushner in 2007; Swill alleges that that Kushner siphoned that money to the perpetually money-losing Observer.

PolitickerWA was reportedly one of the lowest-performing Politicker sites and was slated to be closed anyway. However, Politicker is hardly the only recent online-media casualty of the economic downturn. Layoffs have been announced in recent months at Gawker, Valleywag, Yahoo!, and Nielsen Business Media, among other online media organizations.