- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 26, 2008

SENATE

McCain will seek re-election

Republican presidential candidate John McCain confirmed Tuesday he would seek re-election to the Senate in 2010 and laughed off questions about an unlikely future bid for the White House.

Speaking to reporters in Phoenix, the Arizona senator said he had no intention of ending his long political career.

“I intend to run again. We will make a formal announcement at the appropriate time,” Mr. McCain replied when asked whether he would run for re-election to the Senate in two years’ time.

But asked about running for president again, an amused Mr. McCain said: “I do not envision a scenario that would entail that.”

WHITE HOUSE

Ex-Bush aide charged with theft

A former aide to President Bush has been charged with theft from a government-funded center that promotes democracy in Cuba.

The single count of theft of $5,000 or more from a federally aided program was filed in U.S. District Court here Thursday against Felipe E. Sixto, who resigned on March 28 from his job as special assistant to the president for intergovernmental affairs.

The charge was filed as criminal information, which means Mr. Sixto waived his right to have a grand jury decide whether the government has enough evidence to charge him and usually also means the defendant intends to plead guilty as part of an agreement with prosecutors.

No date has been set for Mr. Sixto to appear before U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton.

When the accused left the White House staff last spring, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said Mr. Sixto had stepped forward March 20 to reveal his purported wrongdoing and resign. Mr. Stanzel said Mr. Sixto took that step after learning that his former employer, the Center for a Free Cuba, was prepared to begin legal action against him.

The nonprofit center has received grants from the U.S. Agency for International Development and, Mr. Stanzel said, “Mr. Sixto allegedly had a conflict of interest with the use of USAID funds.” Mr. Stanzel added that he did not know how much money was involved or the particulars of the allegations.

SENATE

Palin to stump for Chambliss

ATLANTA | Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will stump Monday with Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss in Georgia to jump-start the campaign after the long holiday weekend.

The appearance by Mrs. Palin, who became a political celebrity as the Republican vice-presidential nominee, is a plus for the incumbent Mr. Chambliss as he tries to boost turnout for the runoff election Tuesday.

Mr. Chambliss and Democratic challenger Jim Martin both are aware that turnout is typically low for runoff races and the candidate with the better get-out-the-vote drive usually prevails.

“I was thrilled when I got the call that Governor Palin would be able to make the trip to Georgia to campaign with me the day before the runoff election,” Mr. Chambliss said. “She will receive an enthusiastic welcome everywhere we go.”

The runoff has garnered national attention and visits by both parties’ top politicians because it is considered pivotal for the balance of power in Washington.

SENATE

Menendez named DSCC chairman

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Tuesday turned over the reins of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee from Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, to New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, the group’s vice chairman.

“Our caucus will be well served by Bob Menendez, whose mastery of policy is matched only by his mastery of politics,” said Mr. Reid in naming Mr. Menendez the group’s chairman.

FDA

Melamine traces found in formula

Traces of the industrial chemical melamine have been detected in samples of top-selling U.S. infant formula, but federal regulators insist the products are safe.

The Food and Drug Administration said last month it was unable to identify any melamine exposure level as safe for infants, but a top official said it would be a “dangerous overreaction” for parents to stop using formula. Melamine is the chemical found in Chinese infant formula that - in far larger concentrations - has been blamed for killing at least three babies and making at least 50,000 others ill.

“The levels that we are detecting are extremely low,” said Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, adding that no U.S. illnesses are known to have resulted. “They should not be changing the diet.”

Records of undisclosed tests, obtained by the Associated Press, show that the FDA has detected melamine in a sample of one popular formula and the presence of cyanuric acid, a chemical relative of melamine, in the formula of a second manufacturer. Separately, a third major formula maker told AP that in-house tests had detected trace levels of melamine in its formula.

The three firms - Abbott Laboratories, Nestle and Mead Johnson - make more than 90 percent of all infant formula produced in the U.S.

TRANSITION

Brennan won’t seek intelligence post

John Brennan, President-elect Barack Obama’s top adviser on intelligence, has taken his name out of the running for any intelligence position in the new administration.

In a letter Tuesday, Mr. Brennan wrote to Mr. Obama that he did not want to be a distraction. His potential appointment has raised a firestorm by liberal bloggers who associate him with the Bush administration’s interrogation, detention and rendition policies.

“The fact that I was not involved in the decision-making process for any of these controversial policies and actions has been ignored,” he wrote, in a letter obtained by the Associated Press.

HOUSE

Rangel school tied to tax loophole

NEW YORK | Rep. Charles B. Rangel helped preserve a tax loophole for an oil-drilling company at the same time the company’s executive pledged $1 million to a school to be named in the congressman’s honor, according to a published report.

According to the New York Times, the $1 million pledge for the planned Charles B. Rangel School of Public Service at the City College of New York was made by Nabors Industries Ltd. chief Eugene M. Isenberg.

Mr. Rangel, New York Democrat, denied any improprieties in a statement Tuesday evening.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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