- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 13, 2000

Kennedy's denial

Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, Rhode Island Democrat, disputes a security guard's claim that he grabbed and shoved her at Los Angeles International Airport last month.

"When all the facts become public, people will see that the press reports don't reflect what actually happened," Mr. Kennedy said in a brief statement Tuesday night. "I apologized for this unfortunate incident at the time and continue to regret that it occurred. I sincerely hope that this matter can be resolved soon."

Della Patton, 58, said Mr. Kennedy grabbed and pushed her the night of March 26 after she told him his bag was too big to fit through an X-ray scanner.

The congressman, son of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, then is said to have grabbed Miss Patton's arm and cursed at her while ordering her out of the way. Miss Patton complained of injuries to her left shoulder. She filed a battery complaint with police on or about April 1.

No charges have been filed against Mr. Kennedy.

Miss Patton, reached at her home Tuesday, said she was in pain but declined further comment. She referred calls to her attorney, Paul Trump, who did not return calls, the Associated Press reports.

Detectives have reviewed a surveillance video of the incident, but have not made it public.

"It shows there appears to have been physical contact between Ms. Patton and Mr. Kennedy," Los Angeles police Lt. Horace Frank said. "She said she was battered at a preboard checkpoint."

Beg your pardon

Vice President Al Gore said yesterday President Clinton has effectively eliminated a possible pardon of himself.

"[Mr. Clinton] said publicly some time ago that he would neither request nor accept a pardon," Mr. Gore told the American Society of Newspaper Editors meeting in Washington. "That is the answer to that question."

But some Gore critics saw the answer as less than forthcoming.

"It is a Clinton-esque answer," said Joseph diGenova, a former U.S. attorney and a frequent critic of Mr. Clinton. "What he should have said is, 'I will not grant him a pardon, even if he changes his mind and asks for one.' "

Mr. diGenova and others also raised the issue of whether Mr. Clinton could refuse a pardon if he wanted to. That turns out to be an intriguing legal fine point, according to Paul Rothstein, a law professor at Georgetown University Law Center. In a 1927 case, the Supreme Court ruled that a pardon could not be refused.

On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart told reporters Mr. Clinton would not pardon himself before he leaves office.

Robert Ray, Kenneth Starr's successor as independent counsel, was quoted by The Washington Post on Tuesday as saying he may seek an indictment of Mr. Clinton after the president leaves office on Jan. 20, 2001.

Citizen Bill

"Bill Clinton always performs best at the brink, and almost seems to enjoy being the scamp who dances away from his pursuers," New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd writes, noting that independent counsel Robert Ray is considering an indictment when Mr. Clinton leaves office.

"But now he must be having nightmares about a split-screen departure from office. Just as Jimmy Carter had to watch the Iran hostage release as Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president, Mr. Clinton must visualize a split screen with his successor parading down Pennsylvania Avenue even as federal marshals wait with handcuffs for Citizen Bill."

Blackmail charged

A national trial lawyers group tried to blackmail him into dropping sponsorship of an asbestos litigation bill, Sen. Rod Grams says, and his campaign has asked the Justice Department to review a tape-recorded phone message.

On the tape, which Mr. Grams, Minnesota Republican, played at a news conference Monday, a lobbyist says he doubts that the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) would go forward with a TV ad attacking Mr. Grams if he withdrew as a co-sponsor of the bill to change the way asbestos victims are compensated.

Brian Lopina, the lawyer and longtime Grams supporter who left the phone message, called Mr. Grams' account "inaccurate," the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune reports.

While he has represented ATLA before, Mr. Lopina said, he was not authorized to lobby for the group on the issue. He said he merely made a friendly attempt to alert a key Grams campaign strategist, Christine Gunhus, that the ad was being placed.

Texas results

A retired military lawyer won the Democratic nomination Tuesday to run against Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in November, while a longtime state lawmaker won the Republican nomination for retiring GOP Rep. Bill Archer's seat.

The two races were among four runoffs held in Texas for Senate and House nominations.

In the Senate contest, South Texan Gene Kelly, who lost six previous statewide races, defeated former one-term state representative Charles Gandy. They had emerged from a field of five Democrats in the March 14 primary.

Mrs. Hutchison, whose campaign has more than $6 million in the bank, will be the heavy favorite in November.

Fourteen-year state Rep. John Culberson defeated businessman Peter Wareing in a bitterly fought runoff for Mr. Archer's seat.

Mr. Wareing accused Mr. Culberson of being a career politician and an ineffective leader, the Associated Press reports. Mr. Culberson branded Mr. Wareing a disloyal Republican for voting in six Democratic primaries and donating to Democrats as recently as 1997.

Democrat Jeff Sells is expected to provide only token opposition in the predominantly Republican district in November.

Also, retired Temple oilman Ramsey Farley defeated Belton contractor Rodney Geer in a Central Texas GOP runoff to challenge Democratic Rep. Chet Edwards.

Bryndan Wright, a former aide to House Majority Leader Dick Armey, defeated retired lawyer Bill Payne for the right to oppose Rep. Martin Frost, the third-ranking Democrat in the House.

Buchanan and Gore

Pat Buchanan, the former Republican and likely Reform Party nominee for president, expects Vice President Al Gore to give him a helping hand.

Mr. Buchanan, in an interview with USA Today reporter Susan Page, said the presumptive Democratic nominee for president may support his bid to be included in presidential debates in the fall.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see Gore say, 'He belongs in the debate, too.' And that would put terrible pressure on [Republican George W.] Bush."

Mr. Gore would be acting on the assumption that Mr. Buchanan's candidacy would hurt Mr. Bush more, but that calculation could be a mistake, Mr. Buchanan said.

Looking ahead

New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani decided to cancel two upstate campaign appearances yesterday so he could attend the New York Yankees' home opener.

However, Mr. Giuliani, who is seeking a U.S. Senate seat, sought to reassure his supporters that he was not making a mistake.

"I would say to my Republican friends all throughout the state there is a political part to this that they shouldn't ignore," Mr. Giuliani, wearing a Yankee cap, said Tuesday at his daily press conference.

"If the Yankees get into the World Series, do you know when the Series takes place? In October. Just think a little about that."

Microsoft fans

Americans have a more positive view of Microsoft than they do of the Justice Department, according to a survey by Fabrizio McLaughlin and Associates.

Sixty-nine percent of Americans have a positive view of the software maker, while only 47 percent view the Justice Department favorably, the survey of 1,000 adults found.

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