- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 27, 2006

Broken promise

If there was a political honeymoon for New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, it appears to be over, the Associated Press reports.

In his first four months in office, the Democrat has proposed an increase in the sales tax and broken a promise to give homeowners dramatic relief from the highest property taxes in the nation.

Mr. Corzine’s approval ratings have sunk from 43 percent to 35 percent in a month, and fellow Democrats in the Legislature are hesitant to back his budget plan, the wire service said.

Mr. Corzine said he is unmoved by such troubles, arguing that tough decisions are needed to right a state with chronic tax and budget problems.

Among other things, the 59-year-old former Goldman Sachs chief executive promised a big increase in the property-tax rebates that New Jersey homeowners receive each year. Property owners in New Jersey pay an average of about $6,000 a year.

But after inheriting a $4.5 billion budget deficit, Mr. Corzine called for $1.9 billion in tax increases — including an increase in the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent — and announced that the property-tax relief he promised would cost too much at $550 million. He offered $100 million instead.

The liberal press

“Fired CIA officer Mary O. McCarthy went on offense Monday, denying through her lawyer that she has done anything wrong. But the agency is standing by its claim that she was dismissed last week because she ‘knowingly and willfully shared classified intelligence,’” the Wall Street Journal notes.

“It has been reported that one of her media contacts was Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, who just won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on the so-called ‘secret’ prisons that the CIA allegedly used to house top level al Qaeda detainees in Eastern Europe,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

“We’re as curious as anyone to see how Ms. McCarthy’s case unfolds. But this would appear to be only the latest example of the unseemly symbiosis between elements of the press corps and a cabal of partisan bureaucrats at the CIA and elsewhere in the ‘intelligence community’ who have been trying to undermine the Bush presidency.”

The Journal pointed to such anti-Bush partisans as former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV and his wife, former CIA employee Valerie Plame, as well as former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer, who was allowed to write an anti-Bush screed under the name “Anonymous.”

“The press is also inventing a preposterous double standard that is supposed to help us all distinguish between bad leaks (the Plame name) and virtuous leaks (whatever Ms. McCarthy might have done). Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie has put himself on record as saying Ms. McCarthy should not ‘come to harm’ for helping citizens hold their government accountable. Of the Plame affair, by contrast, the Post’s editorial page said her exposure may have been an ‘egregious abuse of the public trust.’

“It would appear that the only relevant difference here is whose political ox is being gored, and whether a liberal or conservative journalist was the beneficiary of the leak. That the press sought to hound RobertNovak out of polite society for the Plame disclosure and then rewards Ms. Priest and [New York Times reporter James] Risen with Pulitzers proves the worst that any critic has ever said about media bias.”

Off to jail

A Wisconsin congresswoman’s son and three Democratic campaign workers were sentenced yesterday to four to six months in jail for slashing tires outside a Bush-Cheney campaign office in Milwaukee on Election Day 2004.

The men pleaded no contest in January to misdemeanor property damage. A fifth worker was found not guilty, the Associated Press reports.

“This case had to be a public example of what can happen when you interfere with voters’ rights,” saidMilwaukee County Circuit Judge Michael Brennan, who rejected prosecutors’ recommendation of probation for the four men.

The state Republican Party had rented more than 100 vehicles to give rides to voters and poll monitors on Nov. 2, 2004. The cars were parked outside a Republican campaign office when the tires were punctured. The vandalism left the drivers scrambling for new vehicles.

Among those sentenced yesterday were Sowande A. Omokunde, the son ofU.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, Wisconsin Democrat, and Michael Pratt, the son of former acting Milwaukee Mayor Marvin Pratt.

“I love my son very much. I’m very proud of him,” the congresswoman said. “He’s accepted responsibility.”

Mr. Omokunde was sentenced to four months in jail; Mr. Pratt and Lewis Caldwell of Milwaukee were sentenced to six months; and Lavelle Mohammad of Milwaukee was sentenced to five months. All were granted work-release privileges. Judge Brennan also ordered them to pay a $1,000 fine each, in addition to the $5,317 in total restitution ordered earlier.

Rove testifies

Top White House aide Karl Rove made his fifth grand jury appearance in the Valerie Plame affair yesterday, undergoing several hours of questioning about a new issue that has come to light since the last time he testified, the Associated Press reports.

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald declined to comment at the conclusion of the grand jury session. Mr. Rove appeared at ease as he left the U.S. courthouse, joking to journalists to “move to the back” as the White House aide, his attorney and several reporters entered an elevator to leave the building.

Wednesday’s session is believed to be only the second time Mr. Fitzgerald has met with a new grand jury examining questions left unanswered in the leaking of Mrs. Plame’s name. The only other time Mr. Fitzgerald was seen going before the new panel was Dec. 7.

The previous grand jury looking into the CIA leak expired Oct. 28, the day it indicted Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff on five counts of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI. The only new issue in the CIA leak probe known to involve Mr. Rove is a contact his attorney, Robert Luskin, had with Time magazine reporter Viveca Novak.

Mr. Rove “testified voluntarily and unconditionally at the request of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald to explore a matter raised since Mr. Rove’s last appearance,” Mr. Luskin said in a statement. “Mr. Fitzgerald has affirmed that he has made no decision concerning charges.”

According to Mr. Luskin, the prosecutor has advised that Mr. Rove is not a target of the investigation.

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

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