- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 20, 2000

Book deal questioned

Two watchdog groups said yesterday they had asked Sen.-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton to give details of her $8 million book deal to the Senate ethics committee to ensure it did not conflict with her new political role.

The anti-corruption Congressional Accountability Project said it had asked the first lady in a letter to submit the contract to the ethics committee to make absolutely sure it did not violate Senate rules on conflict of interest, the sale of intellectual property or other standards of conduct.

It suggested Mrs. Clinton should accept only royalties from the sales of the book, not the massive advance.

"We want to make sure that this [book deal] will not be a way for the second-largest media company in the world to put money in her pocket or curry favor with her," the group's executive director, Gary Ruskin, told Reuters.

The Landmark Legal Foundation also sent a letter to the ethics committee urging it to examine Mrs. Clinton's book deal.

"I believe the Gingrich test ought to be applied here," said Landmark President Mark Levin. "The Senate ethics committee has a responsibility to look at what the agreement is and make that information public so that everyone will know."

The book is to be published by Simon & Schuster, which is owned by media giant Viacom, described by the watchdog group as a major lobbyist on Capitol Hill in areas from tobacco advertising and the Internet to publishing.

Clinton spokeswoman Lissa Muscatine said the first lady's legal counsel had assured her the advance complied fully with the Senate's rules and regulations, and she was under no obligation to submit the contract to the ethics committee.

Next in New Jersey

If New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman bags a job in the Bush administration, it will roil the political waters in her home state, where a new governor will be chosen in November.

Mrs. Whitman, a friend of President-elect George W. Bush, has been mentioned for a variety of possible positions in Washington.

The prime beneficiary back in New Jersey would be state Senate President Donald T. DiFrancesco, a Republican, who, under the state constitution, would serve as acting governor while retaining his Senate post, the New York Times reports.

Mr. DiFrancesco plans to run for governor in any case, but as an incumbent he would have a leg up on the Democrats. It also would give him an advantage over Bret D. Schundler, the Republican mayor of Jersey City, who also plans a run for governor. Mr. Schundler has a following among conservatives in and out of the state.

A Harvard candidate

Vice President Al Gore is one of about 500 people nominated for the presidency of Harvard University, according to the chairman of the university's presidential-search committee.

"He'll go into our pool and be considered seriously," Robert G. Stone Jr., a senior fellow of the Harvard Corporation, which will make the final choice, told the Boston Globe.

Mr. Stone, however, said Mr. Gore, who graduated from Harvard in 1969, is unlikely to be selected.

"He doesn't have the academic and intellectual standing," Mr. Stone said.

Mr. Stone confirmed that four persons have nominated Mr. Gore to succeed Neil L. Rudenstine, who plans to step down next summer.

Joseph S. Nye, dean of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, said the university was more likely to hire a nonpartisan figure.

"He's an extremely bright man who has a Harvard degree, and you can't get much better experience," Mr. Nye said. "But he hasn't been in the academic world."

Jim Kennedy, Mr. Gore's spokesman, said yesterday, "At this point, we're not commenting on any rumors about the vice president's future."

Cultural 'rights'?

The chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts said he's optimistic that President-elect George W. Bush will support lavish government funding for the arts as he argued for an "American cultural bill of rights."

Those rights should include support for high-class art that will portray an accurate image of American art abroad, Bill Ivey said. It's not enough, he said, to support art that sells well.

"Do we want to possess a confidence that … we're represented not just by blockbuster movies, but by quality art that might not flourish in a global economy?" Mr. Ivey asked. "Or is it enough to squander our achievements in a careless consumerism?"

Mr. Ivey, appointed by President Clinton in 1997, said the NEA had not yet had contact with the Bush transition team. But he said he was optimistic because spending on the arts increased during Mr. Bush's tenure as governor of Texas.

Funding for the Texas Commission on the Arts rose from $3.3 million in 1997 to $5.2 million in 1998, 1999 and 2000, before dropping to $4.7 million for the current fiscal year, the NEA said.

Other planks in Mr. Ivey's "cultural bill of rights" included the right to explore the history of art and music, the right to create art, the right to participate in a community of artists and the right to choose among performances, exhibitions and programs, the Associated Press reports.

No more Elvis

It would be a bad idea to have President Clinton serve as opposition leader after he leaves the White House next month, the New York Times said yesterday in an editorial.

Many Democrats have suggested such a move.

"That sounds more like a symptom of post-traumatic stress syndrome than a viable plan for the future," the newspaper said.

The party "needs to make sure that clouds of Clinton nostalgia do not block out the sunlight needed to grow new leaders," the newspaper said, adding that if "Elvis can be persuaded to leave the building," then Democrats will be able to consider a wide range of presidential possibilities for 2004, including Vice President Al Gore.

Recount resolved

A $2.2 million school referendum that landed in court because the vote was tied on Election Day got resolved Monday with a judge's decision to validate a "yes" vote that had been disqualified.

The measure, intended to raise money for a remodeling project for the only public school in La Farge, Wis., about 40 miles southeast of La Crosse, had been in doubt since a Nov. 7 vote ended 392-392. A recount tossed out three votes on each side, making it 389-389.

Referendum supporter Patricia Roth filed a lawsuit Nov. 17, contending that a "yes" vote was illegally disqualified.

The ballot in question had been discarded because it was initialed by one poll worker instead of two as required by law.

But Vernon County Circuit Judge Michael Rosborough said Monday the ballot should count because it clearly showed the voter's desire to support the referendum, despite the poll worker's mistake.

His decision puts the referendum's final vote tally at 390-389 in favor.

Hillary feted

Sen.-elect Hillary Rodham Clinton, accompanied by the president, was honored Monday night at a star-studded dinner in her honor by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke.

Actors Robert De Niro and Harrison Ford, singer Judy Collins and newswoman Diane Sawyer were some of the 50 guests who attended the private dinner at Mr. Holbrooke's residence at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel Towers.

Mr. Holbrooke has been America's ambassador to the United Nations since 1999. He was also the chief negotiator for the historic 1995 Dayton peace accords that ended the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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