- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 22, 2001

Senate candidate

South Carolina Rep. Lindsey Graham, one of the prosecutors during President Clinton's impeachment, announced yesterday he will seek the Republican nomination for the Senate seat being vacated by Strom Thurmond.
Mr. Graham, who was elected to Congress in 1994, often served as a spokesman for the 13 prosecutors in Mr. Clinton's trial. He also was active in last year's presidential campaign for Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican.
Mr. Graham said his campaign would emphasize national defense, Social Security and education, the Associated Press reports.
Mr. Thurmond, 98, is the nation's oldest and longest-serving senator. He has said he won't seek re-election next year. So far, no other Republican has indicated interest in seeking the nomination.
Possible Democratic challengers include Phil Lader, the U.S. ambassador to Britain and Lake City businesswoman Darla Moore.

Harris' plan

Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris plans to ask the Legislature for $200 million to modernize state voting equipment by 2004.
"I want voting systems that will make the will of the voter self-evident," Mrs. Harris told the Miami Herald.
Under the plan, $50 million would be spent this year to develop an electronic voting system, possibly featuring touch-screen technology. The rest would go toward adopting the system.
Mrs. Harris, the state's chief elections officer, will not submit her plan until the governor's elections task force has approved its own recommendations, Division of Elections Director Clay Roberts said. The task force is expected to release a report Monday supporting temporary statewide use of optical-scanning ballot counters for the 2002 election, a system Mrs. Harris said could cost $20 million.
Currently, 41 of 67 counties use optically scanned ballots, which feature candidates' names next to bubbles that can be filled in with ink.
Mrs. Harris said she favors optical scanners as a temporary fix, but the scanners sometimes overlook votes that are not filled in properly.
Mrs. Harris' plan is expected to come under fire from Republican-led Legislature, which already is reluctant to approve optical-scanning ballots, the Associated Press reports. House Speaker Tom Feeney said new machinery could not overcome the need for voter education.
"We can go out and spend on my watch $200 million to buy the most updated machinery in the world, but are we really fixing the symptom and not the underlying problem?" Mr. Feeney said Tuesday.

Clinton checks in

Former President Bill Clinton has been invited to speak next month at the annual gathering of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association for $100,000.

Association President Fred Schwartz said the group wants to recognize Mr. Clinton's generosity toward India where most of the hotelier group hails from and is not concerned about his much-criticized pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich.

"I certainly don't condone certain things that may have occurred, but our decision to bring him here was based on the tremendous amount of contributions that he's made to India," Mr. Schwartz told the Associated Press this week.

The event is set for March 8.

Earlier this month, Mr. Clinton gave a speech to a junk-bond dealers conference sponsored by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter in Boca Raton, Fla. The former president received a fee of from $100,000 to $150,000, prompting an unusual after-the-fact apology by the company.

Also this month, Mr. Clinton delivered speeches at a benefit dinner for India's earthquake victims and at an Oracle Corp. convention.

The earlier speeches prompted backlashes, with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter receiving some account cancellations and about a dozen pickets protesting the Oracle speech in New Orleans.

Both sides now

Both political parties are using new Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, himself a champion fund-raiser, to fatten their campaign coffers.
Mr. McAuliffe, who raised a record $26.5 million in one night last May, has signed a letter to prospective Democratic donors that has helped the party raise almost $4 million in small contributions since Jan. 1.
The Senate Republicans' fund-raising arm has sent its own e-mail seeking donations, warning that "the first group Terry McAuliffe and the liberal special interest groups target will be our Republican senators."
The e-mail includes a link to Mr. McAuliffe's speech after being elected Democratic chairman and has been posted on the National Republican Senatorial Committee's Web site.
"Terry McAuliffe is going to be raising a lot of money for both parties this cycle," Republican committee spokesman Jonathan Grella told the Associated Press. "He's made himself an issue. I'm sure Terry McAuliffe will be mentioned more than once on the campaign trail."

Hate-crime boomerang

"Judging from the way liberal civil-rights groups push for hate-crimes legislation, minorities have a lot to gain if criminal offenders can be charged for racial bias when they break the law," John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru write at nationalreview.com.
"The NAACP made a huge and ugly point of this last fall, when it ran ads against George W. Bush suggesting he was complicit in the truck-dragging murder of James Byrd because he opposed a hate-crimes bill in Texas. Yet the latest FBI statistics tell a different story. According to figures released last week, African Americans are more likely to commit anti-white hate crimes than whites are to commit anti-black ones," the writers said.
"The proof is buried in the FBI's annual Hate Crimes Statistics report, and the numbers are based on 1999 offenses. Of the 2,554 reported hate crimes blacks and whites committed against each other, blacks were the offenders in more than 20 percent of the cases. That means they're committing about one of every five hate crimes involving a black person and a white person, even though there are more than six white Americans for every black one.
"This is pretty close to a man-bites-dog news story, but almost nobody in the media has paid any attention. The FBI certainly didn't publicize this finding. We heard about it from the Libertarian Party, where a creative researcher decided to take a close look at the FBI data. 'We don't think hate-crime legislation ought to exist because it's so divisive,' says Libertarian Party spokesman George Getz. 'These numbers show that having hate crimes on the books doesn't even help the people it's supposed to.' "

Ashcroft legacy

David Keene, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference, thinks John Ashcroft's victorious nomination to be attorney general makes it more likely that President Bush will choose strong conservatives for the Supreme Court.
"In a sense, the Ashcroft fight may make it more likely that Bush will have the courage to go with somebody who's more conservative than would otherwise be the case because his people held together and because there was strong support for Ashcroft," Mr. Keene told the Hill newspaper.

Not bribery

In a story published in this space yesterday, the Associated Press incorrectly stated the criminal charges to which Paul Adler, a former Rockland County, N.Y., Democratic chairman, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in White Plains. Mr. Adler pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud and tax evasion, but not to bribery. He admitted in court to trying to bribe a town official, but he was not charged with bribery.

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