- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 6, 2005

DeLay’s reply

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, yesterday dismissed front-page stories in The Washington Post and the New York Times as “a concerted effort” by the liberal media “to twist the truth.”

The Post article said a nonprofit group that paid for a DeLay trip to Moscow in 1997 had received funding from business interests lobbying in support of the Russian government. The Times article said Mr. DeLay’s wife and daughter had been paid $500,000 since 2001 by the congressman’s political action and campaign committees.

Mr. DeLay, in an off-air interview with CNN producer Ted Barrett, said of the Moscow trip: “It’s just like trips that every member takes. It’s paid for by a nonprofit organization. It was properly reported. … No member can be responsible for going into the bowels of researching what this organization, how it gets its money or how it’s funded. The rules say if it’s a legitimate organization that funds the trip and it’s reported, it’s legal. We know what’s going on here.”

Mr. DeLay added: “What’s going on here is a concerted effort … to twist the truth to make it look seedy, and it’s just not true.”

As for payments to his wife and daughter, Mr. DeLay said: “My wife and daughter have any right, just like any other American, to be employed and be compensated for their employment. It’s pretty disgusting, particularly when my wife and daughter are singled out and others are not, in similar situations in the Senate and as well as the House. But it’s just another seedy attempt by the liberal media to embarrass me.”

The CNN producer asked: “Do you think you have a political problem?”

“Not at all,” Mr. DeLay replied.

Coburn’s fight

Freshman Sen. Tom Coburn will go ahead with his fight to retain his medical practice while serving in Congress, even though the Senate ethics committee has rejected his request.

“No, I am not going to close my medical practice,” the Oklahoma Republican said yesterday. “I am going to wait and see what the ethics committee decides finally, and then I’m going to try to change the rules.”

Senate rules generally bar lawmakers from earning outside income. Mr. Coburn, an obstetrician, wants to practice medicine on weekends and during breaks and said he will take his cause to the Senate floor.

Mr. Coburn agreed not to take any new patients after a Dec. 2 letter from the ethics committee outlined the long-standing rules barring outside professional activities. But he has continued to give exams and deliver babies.

In his six years in the House, Mr. Coburn was allowed to continue practicing medicine without making a profit.

He said the Senate may regret forcing him to give up his medical practice, the Associated Press reports.

“There’s going to be a whole lot of heck to pay up here because if I am working up here five solid days a week, I’m going to create all sorts of mischief, much more so than I would otherwise,” he said.

In a letter to Mr. Coburn dated March 18, Sens. George V. Voinovich, Ohio Republican, and Tim Johnson, South Dakota Democrat, the chairman and vice chairman of the ethics committee, said they would not support a change in the Senate rules, the Tulsa World reported.

Kennedy’s attacks

The Landmark Legal Foundation yesterday demanded that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, stop what it called “his personal assault on the federal judiciary, especially the United States Supreme Court.”

Landmark President Mark R. Levin said, “I am deeply concerned that Kennedy and some of his colleagues have helped created a dangerous environment of disrespect and hostility for the federal judiciary. Starting with the vicious attack on Judge Robert Bork’s character in 1987, and continuing with several of President Bush’s nominees, Kennedy, working with People For the American Way and other groups, has sought to tear down the reputations of justices, judges and judicial nominees with whom he disagrees.”

Mr. Levin, author of the bestseller on the Supreme Court “Men in Black,” sent a letter to Mr. Kennedy yesterday with examples of what he called irresponsible and reckless rhetoric used to attack the courts and judicial nominees.

Mr. Levin added, “Accusing judges or judicial nominees of supporting back-alley abortions, being an embarrassment, subverting the popular vote, and being Frankenstein is hit-and-run rhetoric of the worst kind. Kennedy has done enormous and unjustifiable damage to the public’s perception of the judiciary’s role. I ask that he cease his irresponsible behavior.”

Taking the fall

“Former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger has now joined the pantheon of those who, in the immortal words of Webb Hubbell, have chosen to ‘roll over one more time’ to protect Bill and Hillary Clinton,” Dick Morris writes in the New York Post.

“This Hall of Ill-Fame includes Susan McDougal, Vince Foster, Monica Lewinsky, Johnnie Chung, former Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker and old Webb himself. What they each have in common is their silence and willingness to take the fall to protect the Clintons,” Mr. Morris said.

“Berger has admitted that he stuffed top-secret documents into his pockets, shirt and pants, and why he sliced some up with scissors, destroyed them and then lied about it. Until he gives a credible explanation for this behavior, we are all entitled to make the logical inference — that he was hiding something to protect himself and his old bosses.”

Hastert’s surgery

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert had kidney-stone surgery at Bethesda Naval Hospital yesterday, the day he had been scheduled to leave for Pope John Paul II’s funeral.

Mr. Hastert’s spokesman, Ron Bonjean, said the 63-year-old Illinois Republican was recovering well. Mr. Hastert was to stay in the hospital overnight and return to Illinois today, Mr. Bonjean said.

The speaker was expected to resume his normal schedule when the House returns next week, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Hastert had been set to leave last night for Rome as the head of a 26-member House delegation to the pope’s funeral.

Falwell goes home

The Rev. Jerry Falwell was released from a Lynchburg, Va., hospital yesterday after a nine-day stay for respiratory problems, the Associated Press reports.

The 71-year-old television evangelist and founder of the Moral Majority was in respiratory arrest when he was admitted to the hospital on March 28 and had to be resuscitated.

It was the second time this year that Mr. Falwell was hospitalized. He left the hospital March 4 after 13 days, spending part of the time on a ventilator because of what was described as a viral infection.

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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