- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 1, 2004

An Arlington-based homosexual-rights group is criticizing a donation to U.S. Rep. Frank R. Wolf’s campaign from a California millionaire who supports “biblical law.”

The Virginia Partisans Gay and Lesbian Democratic Club is asking Mr. Wolf to return $1,000 from Fieldstead and Co., a nonprofit charitable group run by Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson Jr.

Club President Josh Israel said Mr. Wolf is out of step with his Northern Virginia constituents in taking donations from Mr. Ahmanson, noting his past donations to the Chalcedon Institute, a nonprofit Christian educational research group.

“This is a person whose political views are way outside of the mainstream,” Mr. Israel said. “He has donated substantial amounts of money to anti-gay and lesbian ballot initiatives and he is against nondiscrimination policies.”

Some people affiliated with the Chalcedon Institute, though not Mr. Ahmanson, have said that homosexuals should be imprisoned.

The donation was Mr. Ahmanson’s first to Mr. Wolf, a Virginia Republican in his 12th term. Federal Election Commission documents confirmed the donation.

Mr. Wolf’s campaign staff did not return requests for comment.

Republican sources close to Mr. Wolf said privately that Mr. Ahmanson has contributed to many positive organizations, including homeless shelters, as part of President Bush’s faith-based initiative.

Mr. Ahmanson, a philanthropist who lives in Southern California, could not be reached for comment. He has contributed to political campaigns and nonprofit groups for at least 20 years.

Mr. Ahmanson once told the Orange County (Calif.) Register: “My purpose is total integration of biblical law into our lives.”

FEC documents also show Mr. Ahmanson contributed $1,000 to U.S. Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican, in 2000.

Allen spokesman John Reid said the contribution was not an issue in 2000 and that opposition to the donation to Mr. Wolf is no shocker.

“It doesn’t surprise me that a partisan, Democratic, pro-gay rights group would have a problem if they thought someone was working against their legislative agenda,” Mr. Reid said.

Mr. Ahmanson also contributed $6,000 to Mark Earley’s campaign for Virginia attorney general.

Mr. Wolf’s Democratic challenger for the November election is James Socas, who also criticized the contribution.

• The parade goes by

The Chuck Floyd for Congress campaign is suing the city of Takoma Park for repression of free speech, according to a paper filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

Mr. Floyd is challenging U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District.

John W. Tuohy, a consultant for the Republican’s campaign, said Mr. Floyd was “not allowed to march” in the town’s July Fourth parade, while Mr. Van Hollen, a Democrat, was.

“The rules give an unfair advantage to incumbents,” who are the only ones allowed to march, Mr. Tuohy said.

Linda S. Perlman, assistant city attorney for Takoma Park, said the lawsuit is vague and has no merit.

“All candidates are welcome to pass out literature at the beginning or at the end of the parade, but candidates are not official participants,” she said.

• Show compassion

Area Republicans collected thousands of dollars for troops during a “Compassion Across America” community service initiative, countering the Democratic National Convention last week.

In his 2002 State of the Union address, President Bush asked Americans to donate 4,000 hours of their lives to community service.

As part of that initiative, the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) announced the state’s delegation to the Republican National Convention had collected more than $10,000 in monetary contributions, $5,000 in goods ranging from ramen noodles to a Microsoft Xbox video game console and 17,000 prepaid calling cards for troops to use to call home.

The donations were given to the United Service Organization (USO), which will distribute the money and items to troops serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

RPV spokesman Shawn Smith said the weeklong drive mobilizes Republican leaders nationwide in a buildup to the convention at the end of this month.

“The donations go directly to the men and women currently serving overseas,” Mr. Smith said.

Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, a Republican, donated more than 10,000 prepaid calling-card minutes as part of the initiative.

“There is no better time to share President Bush’s positive and optimistic vision for the future, and Virginia Republicans have overwhelmingly answered the president’s call to service,” said Kate Obenshain Griffin, RPV chairman.

Delegates to the convention will do community service in New York City on Aug. 31. Convention organizers have blocked off time for the volunteer work.

The Maryland Republican Party also is participating in the event, spokeswoman Deborah Martinez said.

Maryland delegates to the national convention collected paper, pens and books for Iraqi schoolchildren, organized an effort to collect care packages, letters and food for troops and held the second annual Rockfishing Expedition in cooperation with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Maryland.

• Trying to join suit

The Republican Circuit Court clerk in Anne Arundel County filed a motion Tuesday to be named as a defendant in the American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit for same-sex “marriage” rights in Maryland.

Robert P. Duckworth, who is also a candidate in the state’s 3rd Congressional District, said he wants to be named in the case to argue against same-sex “marriage” because the change would make it hard for him to do his job.

“If the law changes, it puts me in a very difficult position regarding my beliefs on marriage,” Mr. Duckworth said. “I’ve married thousands of couples, and I wouldn’t look forward to a change in the law if it were to allow same-sex couples.”

Mr. Duckworth began campaigning last fall for the congressional seat held by Democratic Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, but he said last week that he did not want the same-sex “marriage” debate to define the race.

“I look at this as a matter that affects me as a clerk of the court,” he said.

Mr. Cardin said he would advocate for civil unions, rather than same-sex “marriage.”

“I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, but I am opposed to any type of discrimination,” Mr. Cardin said.

Mr. Duckworth said he wants the ACLU lawsuit dismissed because the matter should be decided by the states and the public, rather than the courts.

“I understand the rights part,” he said, adding that Maryland law could be changed in other ways. “Marriage is not a bundle of contract rights. Marriage is a fundamental building block of society designed to bring a man and woman together.”

The Alliance Defense Fund, a group that aims to restore religious values to the judicial system, is aiding Mr. Duckworth with his motion.

• Lost in Beantown

A harmless line in a Virginia newspaper inspired the Republican Party of Virginia to take the opportunity to bash a Democrat.

The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star reported Wednesday that Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine was attending the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

Mr. Kaine, the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for governor in 2005, has been using the convention to build support for his candidacy, the newspaper reported.

The story includes the following two paragraphs:

“Kaine has been focusing his energy on such relationship-building, and doesn’t actually know if he’s even an official convention delegate. He just told his staff to get him to the convention.

“They seem to have come through in spades; Mr. Kaine’s credentials got him into skybox seats, something to which regular delegates don’t have access.”

The Republican Party of Virginia sent out a press release Thursday jumping on this notion, and taking it a step further.

Under the subject line “Have you seen this man?” the e-mailed release posts a photo of Mr. Kaine, who serves as president of the state Senate.

“He is lost, presumably in Boston, and not sure whether he is an official delegate to the convention,” said the e-mail, which quotes a portion of the Free Lance-Star piece. “He answers to ‘Tim’ or ‘Mr. Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.’ He was last seen trying to board a bus using his old Richmond City Council ‘Paygo’ credit card.”

Mr. Kaine was Richmond mayor before being elected to the statewide post.

For the record, Mr. Kaine was a member of the Virginia delegation to the convention, but was not an official delegate, according to the Democratic Party of Virginia.

• FOP honors

Virginia Delegate Robert F. McDonnell and Sen. D. Nick Rerras were named the legislators of the year by the Virginia Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).

Mr. McDonnell, Virginia Beach Republican, who is seeking the Republican nomination for attorney general in 2005, received the award at the FOP’s state convention.

“Bob McDonnell has been a good friend to law enforcement,” said FOP State Legislative Chairman Gordon Buckley. “His door is always open to us.”

Mr. Buckley praised Mr. McDonnell’s legislative package that cracked down on drunken driving.

Mr. Rerras, Norfolk Republican, received the award for his support of law enforcement and for strengthening the state’s resisting-arrest law and penalties for criminal gang activity.

“Senator Rerras is always there when we need him,” said FOP President Dan Blake. “He understands what it takes to make our communities safe.”

• Off to prison

A federal judge denied former Richmond City Council member Gwen C. Hedgepeth’s request Friday to remain free pending an appeal of her prison sentence on bribery charges.

Hedgepeth must report today to the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in central Florida.

She was sentenced to serve three years and eight months there.

She declined to comment as she left the courthouse in Richmond.

On April 2, a jury found Hedgepeth guilty of three bribery charges and one charge of lying to the FBI. She resigned from the council three days later.

During the trial, prosecutors presented secretly recorded video footage of Hedgepeth taking money from Robert O. Davis Jr., a developer and landlord who had been convicted of fraud and arson in 1981.

Mr. Davis, who was working as a witness for the FBI, gave Hedgepeth $500 in January 2003 to vote for a council member he and others wanted to be mayor.

He gave her $2,000 more in July 2003 to support a candidate for appointment to a vacant council seat.

• Christina Bellantoni and Robert Redding Jr. contributed to this column, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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