- The Washington Times - Friday, March 12, 2010

HOUSE

Lawmakers vote to impeach judge

The House has voted to impeach a federal judge from Louisiana. A House Judiciary Committee task force charged District Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. with a long-standing pattern of corruption.

The first of four impeachment articles was approved 412-0 on Thursday. The second passed 410-0.

The case goes to trial in the Senate, where a two-thirds vote is needed to convict Judge Porteous of high crimes and misdemeanors.

Judge Porteous was accused of taking cash from lawyers and gifts from a bail bondsman; lying to the Senate and the FBI to win confirmation; and making false statements in his bankruptcy proceedings to hide financial problems and gambling debts.

If convicted in the Senate, Judge Porteous would become the eighth federal judge in U.S. history to be impeached and convicted.

SENATE

Reid’s wife, daughter injured in accident

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s wife and daughter were being treated in a hospital Thursday from serious injuries they sustained when their vehicle was rear-ended, a spokesman said.

Mr. Reid left the Senate for the hospital at midafternoon to tend to his wife, Landra, 69, who broke her back and neck in the accident, according to Reid spokesman Jim Manley.

Their adult daughter, Lana, also was injured. Neither woman’s life appeared to be in danger, and both women can feel their extremities, Mr. Manley said.

Other details of the accident were not immediately available.

The Reids were married in 1959. Lana was born two years later, followed by four boys: Rory, Leif, Josh and Key.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama gives away Nobel-prize cash

President Obama has announced which groups will get the $1.4 million he received for winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

Mr. Obama said Thursday that $250,000 will go to Fisher House, a national nonprofit that houses families whose loved ones are receiving care at Veterans Administration medical centers. He will give another $200,000 to the Bush-Clinton Haiti Fund to help the country recover from the earthquake.

The balance will go to an array of other groups, including education foundations, scholarship funds and regional development groups in Africa and Central Asia.

MICHIGAN

Congresswoman to testify at grand jury

DETROIT | A congresswoman who is the mother of Detroit ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick says she’ll comply with a subpoena to testify before a grand jury in Detroit.

In Washington, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick told The Associated Press on Thursday she “absolutely” would comply.

Notice of the subpoena was in Wednesday’s Congressional Record.

Mrs. Kilpatrick’s office manager has also been told to appear at the grand jury. The dates of their appearances were not disclosed.

Federal authorities are investigating corruption in city government while Kwame Kilpatrick was mayor. He hasn’t been charged in that investigation. He resigned in 2008 after pleading guilty to obstructing justice in a case that revealed his affair with his chief of staff.

His spokesman says he has no comment on the subpoena.

FHA

Official warns about down-payment hikes

The head of the Federal Housing Administration is warning that boosting the minimum down payment borrowers must provide to qualify for home loans backed by the agency could threaten the housing market.

FHA commissioner David Stevens said at a House hearing Thursday that his agency would insure 300,000 fewer loans per year if the mandatory down payment was hiked from the current level of 3.5 percent to 5 percent. That’s a 40 percent drop.

The result would be a potential “double-dip in housing prices,” because fewer people would qualify for loans, Mr. Stevens told lawmakers.

The FHA does not make loans, but offers insurance against their default. It has been insuring roughly 30 percent of new loans, and is the largest backer of mortgages to first-time buyers.

The agency said in January it would raise fees and tighten lending standards to shore up its strapped finances in hopes of avoiding a taxpayer bailout. The government agency, which has faced rising losses from foreclosed homes, has seen its reserves sink below the minimum level required by Congress.

FEDERAL RESERVE

Net worth up in newest quarter

Americans regained more of their shrunken wealth last quarter, mainly because the healing economy boosted stock portfolios. But the gain was less than in the previous two quarters.

The Federal Reserve reported Thursday that household net worth rose 1.3 percent in the fourth quarter to $54.2 trillion. It marked the third straight quarter of gains. Net worth had risen by a stronger 4.5 percent in the second quarter of 2009 and by an even faster 5.5 percent in the third quarter.

Net worth is the value of assets such as homes, checking accounts and investments minus debts like mortgages and credit cards.

Even with the gain, Americans’ net worth would have to rise an additional 21 percent just to get back to its pre-recession peak of $65.9 trillion. That shows the vast loss of wealth people have suffered from the worst downturn since the 1930s.

From wire dispatches and staff reports