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HOUSE

Complaint: Rangel paid with PAC funds

A nonprofit group has complained to the Federal Election Commission that censured Democratic Rep. Charles B. Rangel of New York improperly paid legal bills from a political action committee.

The National Legal and Policy Center alleged in the recent complaint that Mr. Rangel's National Leadership PAC could not be used under FEC rules for the New York Democrat's legal defense.

Mr. Rangel denied any wrongdoing.

"The National Leadership PAC attorney has authorized the use of its funds for its legal expenses," he said in a statement. Mr. Rangel said the center is biased against him and added, "A complaint can be filed by any entity and it should not be taken as fact."

The policy center had accused Mr. Rangel of ethical wrongdoing numerous times during a House ethics investigation that led to his censure last week for financial and fundraising violations. The misconduct at issue in the House proceeding did not involve the legal fee payments.

The center said Mr. Rangel paid $293,000 to his principal defense attorneys from his National Leadership PAC. At least portions of another $100,000 paid to another firm also might have been for his legal defense in that case, the complaint said.

A leadership political action committee is separate from a candidate's own campaign committee, and is designed to elect other candidates.

MINNESOTA

Court's ruling affects vote count

ST. PAUL | Minnesota's top court has dealt Republican Tom Emmer a setback that could make it harder to sue over the state's unfinished governor's race.

The state Supreme Court released an opinion Tuesday that closes off Mr. Emmer's attempt to disqualify some votes in the race. The court last month had rejected his petition to make local officials match the number of votes and voters using polling place rosters.

The court had ruled without releasing its reasoning. Mr. Emmer had been waiting for the opinion as he weighs whether to pursue a lawsuit over the election in his race with Democrat Mark Dayton.

Mr. Emmer is certain to lose a recount, given a large vote deficit and relatively few remaining ballots for a state board to go over. Mr. Dayton led by almost 9,000 votes.

PENTAGON

Legalizing youths could aid recruiting

The Pentagon's manpower chief says a measure to legalize young immigrants who came to the county illegally is an obvious way to attract more high-quality recruits to the armed forces.

Clifford Stanley, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, says it would be unconscionable not to enact the so-called Dream Act. It would give hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants brought to the United States before the age of 16 a chance to gain legal status if they joined the military or attended college.

But it faces long odds in Congress, where most Republicans and a handful of Democrats regard it as backdoor amnesty for lawbreakers.

Democrats' bid to advance it is likely to fail in a Senate test-vote scheduled for Wednesday.

KENTUCKY

Paul staffer's hearing delayed

LEXINGTON | A court hearing for a former volunteer with Kentucky Republican Rand Paul's Senate campaign has been postponed.

Tim Profitt has pleaded not guilty to a charge of fourth-degree assault for a videotaped scuffle during which a liberal activist's head was stepped on.

He was scheduled for a court appearance in Lexington on Tuesday. Assistant Fayette County Attorney Jennifer True told the Lexington Herald-Leader the hearing was put off to gather more evidence in the case. A pretrial hearing is now scheduled for Jan. 11.

The videotaped Oct. 25 incident showed the activist being pulled down, her face pinned to the concrete and then being stepped on outside the final debate between Mr. Paul and Democratic opponent Jack Conway.

NTSB

Safety questioned in copter crash

Accident investigators say two government agencies missed repeated opportunities to catch miscalculations that set the stage for a firefighting helicopter crash two years ago that killed nine people.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators say both the U.S. Forest Service and the Federal Aviation Administration failed to catch the deliberate understatement of the helicopter's weight by the company that leased the aircraft to the Forest Service.

They say the helicopter was more than 1,000 pounds overweight on Aug. 5, 2008, when pilots tried to take off from a rugged mountaintop clearing near Weaverville, Calif.

The helicopter was airborne less than a minute when its rotor began to slow and it crashed into trees.

FDA

E-cigs fall under tobacco rules

RICHMOND, Va. | A federal appeals court says electronic cigarettes should be regulated as tobacco products by the Food and Drug Administration rather than as drug-delivery devices, which have more stringent requirements.

The ruling means their makers won't have to conduct expensive clinical trials to prove to the FDA that the products are safe and effective as a stop-smoking aid.

The decision is a setback to the FDA and other public health organizations, which had argued e-cigarettes should be regulated like nicotine replacement gum or patches. They also have warned that e-cigarettes contain dangerous chemicals and are being marketed to children.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington backed a lower court ruling that the devices should be considered under the agency's authority over tobacco, which means they would follow the same restrictions as traditional cigarettes and tobacco products.

Some sellers of e-cigarettes sued the FDA last year after the agency told customs officials to refuse entry of shipments into the U.S. A federal judge ruled in January that the FDA can't stop those shipments, saying the agency had overstepped its authority.

JUSTICE

3 drug firms to pay $421M

The Justice Department says three pharmaceutical manufacturers have agreed to pay $421 million to settle allegations that the companies reported inflated prices for numerous products.

The government says the companies knew that federal health care programs relied on the inflated prices to set payment rates.

The three companies involved in the settlement are Abbott Laboratories Inc., B. Braun Medical Inc. and Roxane Laboratories Inc.

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