- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 6, 2000

Pocket change

Rep. David Dreier, California Republican, asked software billionaire Bill Gates the question on everyone's mind yesterday at the U.S. Capitol:

So, how does it feel to lose $11.2 billion in one day?

Mr. Dreier, chairman of the House Rules Committee, inquired about Mr. Gates' loss in personal wealth during a meeting with House Republicans. According to those present, Mr. Gates spoke of his foundation that helps AIDS victims in Africa, and said he thought of how much the lost money could have aided people in need.

Mr. Gates suffered his setback in Microsoft stock value after a federal judge ruled against the software giant Monday in the antitrust case brought by the Clinton administration.

What a coincidence

Some of the same White House officials who reportedly dragged their feet in restoring missing West Wing e-mail are now working for a firm hired last week by the White House to restore the same subpoenaed e-mail for Congress, according to a report on www.WorldNetDaily.com.

One was a special aide to President Clinton. Another official just two months ago headed the White House technology office that was supposed to be finding ways to restore the back-up tapes of the unrecorded e-mail all along, said reporter Paul Sperry.

Both officials are known by White House insiders to have "worked closely" with Mark Lindsay, Mr. Clinton's assistant for management and administration, as well as Mr. Lindsay's predecessor, Virginia "Ginny" Apuzzo. Mr. Lindsay is a central figure in the mushrooming e-mail scandal known as Project X.

White House Counsel's Office spokesman Jim Kennedy told WorldNetDaily that the two former White House officials Dorothy "Dotty" Cleal and John Dankowski are now employed by SRA International in Virginia, which is the subcontractor for the $3 million job.

Asked to comment on the apparent conflict of the White House hiring a firm employing former White House officials, a spokesman for the House Government Reform Committee said the panel's staff attorneys will look into the development.

'Frightening past'

The campaign arm of House Republicans was chortling yesterday over the Democratic primary results in Pennsylvania's 4th Congressional District Tuesday.

State Rep. Terry Van Horne defeated Matthew Mangino, whom the National Republican Congressional Committee described as the "handpicked candidate" of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The Republicans immediately sought to remind voters of a 1994 controversy in which Mr. Van Horne referred to the state House Appropriations Committee chairman, a black man, as "uppity." Mr. Van Horne also used the "N-word" in referring to his colleague.

Mr. Van Horne later apologized for his remarks.

"The Democrats woke up this morning with an unelectable candidate with a frightening past," Virginia Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, head of the Republican campaign committee, said in a prepared statement. "I'd be surprised if most voters would want to have anything to do with Van Horne."

Mr. Van Horne will now face state Sen. Melissa Hart, who was unopposed in the Republican primary.

Democratic Rep. Ron Klink is abandoning the seat to seek a seat in the U.S. Senate. Mr. Klink on Tuesday won the right to take on Republican Sen. Rick Santorum in the fall.

The congressional district is said to lean Republican and is considered a possible pickup for the GOP in a year when just a handful of races will determine which party controls the House next year.

Division in the ranks

Republican leaders in the House and Senate have told Microsoft lobbyists this week that GOP lawmakers will do whatever they can to aid the company in its antitrust battle with the Justice Department, the Wall Street Journal reports.

"Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, says he will likely schedule hearings soon to examine 'this incredible engine that's driving America's economy.' McCain's hearings would probably take a favorable look at the company and examine the potential chilling effect of clamping down on high-tech firms," wrote reporters Bob Davis and Jim VandeHei.

"However, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, a longtime Microsoft foe, says he has little interest in allowing Republicans 'who continue to shoot their mouths off' in defense of Microsoft to rule the stage. Therefore, Mr. Hatch may hold his own hearings, which would take a more critical look at the company and potential remedies. 'The question now is what remedies are appropriate,' says the Utah Republican. 'The problem is, I think Microsoft thinks it can outlast this administration, outlast [antitrust chief] Joel Klein … and either through Bush or Gore as president get Justice to back off.' "

Muddy waters

Americans for Tax Reform charged yesterday that the National Governors Association is circulating a letter aimed at undermining a congressional advisory panel's report that opposes Internet taxes.

"The politicians on the panel have been obstructionists all along," said Ron Nehring, director of national campaigns for Americans for Tax Reform. "They tried to obstruct the election of the chairman, they tried to obstruct the crafting of the report, and when the time came to make the tough decisions, they abstained. It's their way, or the highway."

Mr. Nehring added: "The American people don't want Internet taxes. Congress doesn't want Internet taxes. Nobody supports their wacky ideas for a big, elaborate national sales tax collection scheme for the Internet, so they're trying to confuse the issue, muddy the waters."

46 days and counting

One-time reporter Al Gore hasn't held a news conference in more than six weeks. The Bush campaign is starting to track the days, suggesting the vice president is hiding from questions about fund raising and other controversial matters, the Associated Press reports.

The Republican National Committee with the Bush camp's blessing launched the "Al Gore News Conference Watch" yesterday. Opening count: 46 days without one, dating back to Feb. 19 in Springfield, Mass.

In that interval, the Justice Department has begun an investigation of missing e-mail at the White House, some of which related to Mr. Gore. The vice president's office has also acknowledged contacting the Internal Revenue Service on a union tax matter. And Mr. Gore has broken ranks with President Clinton over 6-year-old Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez.

While conceding that Mr. Gore regularly grants one-on-one interviews, Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said those are easier to control. "News conferences are a way to see how fast you are on your feet."

Bush holds almost daily "availabilities" while campaigning. No subject is off-limits, although the Texas governor sometimes takes a pass on issues with which he is unfamiliar.

A slap at Weygand

The Rhode Island Democratic Party voted Monday to support former Lt. Gov. Richard Licht over Rep. Bob Weygand in the race for a U.S. Senate seat, even though Mr. Weygand leads in the polls.

The New York Times' B. Drummond Ayres Jr. described the 111-65 vote as "a slap" at Mr. Weygand. Mr. Licht last held a state office 12 years ago, but he had the support of John B. Harwood, the influential speaker of the state House of Representatives.

One of the two men will take on Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee, whom Republican Gov. Lincoln C. Almond appointed to replace his late father, John H. Chafee, last year.

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