- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Reach out Inside the Beltway has confirmed that an “incident” is under investigation at the Alexandria Detention Center involving accused terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui and his reported use of a personal cell phone belonging to a jail employee. A source close to the Alexandria Sheriff’s Department tells this column that he was told yesterday that the phone belongs to a sheriff’s deputy who has guarded Moussaoui, the so-called “20th hijacker” being held under otherwise-tight security. “He [the deputy] is accused of allowing Moussaoui to use his cell phone to make personal calls,” says our source, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “The guard is being questioned as we speak.” Alexandria Sheriff’s Capt. David Rocco confirmed late yesterday that “the incident is under review,” but he wouldn’t say what the incident was. Ironically, attorneys for Moussaoui filed a court motion in 2002 objecting to the “overly restrictive” conditions at the Alexandria jail. Among other demands, they asked he be allowed greater telephone access to his attorneys. Careless Carlos “Carlos — for future reference, should one of your staffers call our campaign looking for Richard’s schedule, you might want to tell them not to use the campaign’s phone. When we get a call from someone claiming to be a supporter who wants to attend an event, but the caller ID reads ‘Erskine Bowles,’ it’s kind of a giveaway.” —Note written by Doug Heye, spokesman for the Rep. Richard Burr for Senate campaign in North Carolina to a Bowles campaign spokesman. Mr. Burr is facing former Clinton aide Bowles, a Democrat, for the Senate seat now held by Democratic vice-presidential contender John Edwards. Left conspiracy Pundits tell us this is one of the most important presidential elections in our lifetime. And so-called “527 groups” are doing all in their power to influence the outcome. For some background, 527 groups are tax-exempt advocacy organizations, funded by soft-money contributions, that influence federal elections through voter-mobilization efforts and the issuance of ads either touting their candidate or criticizing the opponent. Regardless, the majority of 527s are required to file expenditure reports with the Internal Revenue Service, and is the ink ever revealing. A recent panel sponsored by the Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet — held at George Washington University and titled, “The Changed Landscape of the 2004 Election: The New Role of the Internet” — featured among its speakers Larry Purpuro, founding partner of Rightclick Strategies, an online solutions developer. We’ll let the transcript speak for itself: Mr. Purpuro: “If you look at the list of all 527s to date, the top 20, 18 of them are clearly left of center. Two would arguably be on the Republican side … If you’ve looked at their expenditures, the top 20 committees alone have spent almost $100 million as of the last reporting requirement, which is no small piece of change.” ‘Pie wagons’ On second glance, USA Today didn’t care too much for a conservative columnist’s rant on last week’s Democratic powwow in Boston. But Democrats don’t mind publishing what the newspaper tossed away. “During the Democratic National Convention week, USA Today hired Republican columnist Ann Coulter to write a daily column on the convention happenings,” the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s Ann Lewis now writes. “However, after reading her first submission, USA Today decided against publishing the column, stating it wasn’t funny and not usable. After reading excerpts from the column, I can see why. “I’ve been a woman in politics for a while, and I’m just not quite sure where she was going with this one: ‘My pretty-girl allies stick out like a sore thumb amongst the corn-fed, no make-up, natural fiber, no-bra needing, sandal-wearing, hirsute, somewhat fragrant hippie chick pie wagons they call women at the Democratic National Convention.’” • Fans of this column will enjoy John McCaslin’s new book, “Inside the Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops and Shenanigans From Around the Nation’s Capital.” You can purchase it through BarnesandNoble.com. • John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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