- The Washington Times - Friday, April 10, 2009

HILLARY 'VOLUNTEER'

Inside the Beltway would be remiss to overlook a decision in recent days by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) surrounding 2008 presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and whether she broke U.S. laws by having British pop singer Elton John, a foreign national, raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for her campaign by performing a benefit concert.

The 1966 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) was put in place to “minimize foreign intervention” in U.S. elections by establishing a series of limitations on foreign nationals. In 1974, the prohibition was incorporated into the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), giving the FEC jurisdiction over its enforcement and interpretation.

According to the FEC, FECA “prohibits any foreign national from contributing, donating or spending funds in connection with any federal, state or local election in the United States, either directly or indirectly. It is also unlawful to help foreign nationals violate that ban or to solicit, receive or accept contributions or donations from them. Persons who knowingly and willfully engage in these activities may be subject to fines and/or imprisonment.”

After this column drew attention to the FARA regulation as it related to Mrs. Clinton's campaign, complaints were filed by various parties with the FEC. Besides Mr. John's fundraising concert, the complaints purported that the pop star sent out a mass e-mail announcing the concert and soliciting support for Mrs. Clinton's presidential bid.

Now, in a short statement, the FEC says that it has ruled in favor of Mrs. Clinton: “The commission determined that Sir Elton John's performance at a fundraiser constituted a volunteer service that is exempted from the definition of 'contribution' under the Federal Election Campaign Act. The commission found no reason to believe that a violation occurred and closed the file.”

WILL'S CONFESSION

”My name is Will Wilkinson. I smoke marijuana, and I like it.”

As in Mr. Wilkinson, the research fellow at the Cato Institute, whose recent article (and personal confession contained therein) about the multitudes of adult Americans who regularly smoke pot, so therefore why not legalize and tax the popular plant, is gaining much exposure.

President Obama, who has admitted to previously inhaling (”The point was to inhale,” he once observed), told a recent town hall forum that taxing legalized marijuana is not a good strategy to grow the economy.

“Have you heard of Santiago Meza Lopez?” Mr. Wilkinson asks. “They call him 'The Soupmaker.' In January he confessed to Mexican authorities that he had dissolved over 300 dead human bodies in acid. There's a lot of money to be made in America's black market for drugs and Mexican suppliers are willing to kill a lot of people to control those markets and capture the gains.”

The Washington think-tank fellow considers pot “neither evil nor dangerous. Scientists have proven its medical uses. It has spared millions from anguish. But … pleasure matters too. That's probably why Barack Obama smoked up the second and third times: because he liked it. That's why tens of millions of Americans regularly take a puff, despite the misconceived laws meant to save us from our own wickedness.”

LUGAR AND I-RAN

Sen. Richard G. Lugar, the Indiana Republican who celebrated his 77th birthday last week, has never missed participating in the ACLI (American Council of Life Insurers) Capitol Challenge, which benefits the D.C. Special Olympics.

At 8 a.m. Wednesday, April 29, the senator will lace up his running shoes and tackle the three-mile road race through Anacostia Park for the 28th consecutive time.

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