- - Tuesday, January 4, 2011

WHITE HOUSE

Obama may name William Daley to top job

A person familiar with the matter says President Barack Obama is considering naming former Commerce Secretary William Daley for a top White House job, possibly chief of staff.

Mr. Daley is an executive at JPMorgan Chase and brother of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. The White House has been looking for ways to bring someone with a business background into the administration.

Mr. Obama’s first chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, resigned last year to run for Chicago mayor. Interim chief of staff Pete Rouse has been leading a staff review that is expected to lead to some shake-ups in the West Wing.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

DELAWARE

Vietnam wall ex-official found dead in landfill

DOVER | Police in Delaware searched for clues Monday in the death of John Wheeler III, a former Army officer who served in Republican administrations and helped lead efforts to build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington.

The body of Mr. Wheeler, 66, was discovered on New Year’s Eve as a garbage truck emptied its contents at the Cherry Island landfill. His death has been ruled a homicide.

Mr. Wheeler retired from the military in 1971 and lived in New Castle, Del. He reportedly was last seen Dec. 28, traveling on an Amtrak train from Washington to Wilmington.

Police have determined that all the stops made Friday by the garbage truck before it arrived at the landfill involved large commercial disposal bins in Newark, Del., several miles from Mr. Wheeler’s home.

“He was just not the sort of person who would wind up in a landfill,” said Bayard Marin, an attorney who was representing Mr. Wheeler in a dispute over a couple’s plans to build a new home in the historic district of Old New Castle, where Mr. Wheeler lived.

Mr. Wheeler, the son of a decorated Army officer, was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and a veteran of the Vietnam War. He was the first chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, and led the multimillion-dollar fundraising effort to create the memorial on Washington’s National Mall.

Fund founder and president Jan Scruggs said Mr. Wheeler dedicated himself to ensuring that service members were given the respect they deserve.

Mr. Wheeler served in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

ETHANOL

Oil refineries sue EPA over ethanol

A trade group representing oil refineries is suing the Environmental Protection Agency over plans to allow the sale of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol.

The Obama administration said in October that gas stations could start selling the corn-based ethanol blend for vehicles built since the 2007 model year. The ruling would increase it from the current blend of 10 percent ethanol.

But the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association and two other trade groups have asked a federal appeals court to overturn the decision. They say the EPA does not have the authority under the Clean Air Act to approve a plan for fuels that run in some engines but not others.

Auto industry and engine manufacturing trade groups have also sued the EPA over the ethanol decision.

BANKING

GOP targets regulatory overhaul funds

Congressional Republicans could put the budget squeeze on two powerful regulatory agencies to slow President Obama’s crackdown on Wall Street.

A Democrat-controlled Congress pushed through the financial-regulatory overhaul laws last year, and regulators were counting on a big budget boost to police the $600 trillion over-the-counter derivatives market - blamed for much of the excess behind the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

But the last Congress failed to deliver on the funding, and that will be even harder to obtain with Republicans vowing to cut spending as they take control of the House of Representatives and boost their numbers in the Senate.

Before lawmakers fund the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Republicans want more time to study whether the spending is warranted, said Rep. Randy Neugebauer, Texas Republican and incoming head of a key House Financial Services subcommittee.

MONTANA

Baucus plans to wed former staffer

HELENA | Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, says he plans to marry his girlfriend and former director of his state offices.

Mr. Baucus said Monday he and Melodee Hanes were engaged over the Christmas holiday in Helena. The 69-year-old says they intend to marry in Montana this summer.

Mr. Baucus and his second wife, Wanda, divorced in early 2009 after 25 years of marriage.

The senator recommended Miss Hanes for Montana’s U.S. attorneys post in 2009, a move that later came under scrutiny owing to their relationship.

By then, Miss Hanes had withdrawn her name from consideration and instead took a job with the Justice Department in Washington.

Miss Hanes was a former state prosecutor before joining Mr. Baucus’ staff.

DIPLOMACY

U.S. weighs new envoy to Venezuela

The Obama administration says it may nominate a new ambassador to Venezuela after its previous choice was rejected by the government of President Hugo Chavez.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the U.S. thinks it is important to have an ambassador in Caracas in order to manage relations, which have been strained by Mr. Chavez’s condemnations of the U.S. and by U.S. criticisms that democracy is deteriorating in Venezuela.

Mr. Crowley said Monday the administration regrets that Mr. Chavez refused to accept Larry Palmer as ambassador. It said that if a decision is made to seek Venezuela’s agreement on another envoy, that candidate’s nomination would have to be submitted to the Senate for confirmation. Mr. Crowley said this was now under consideration.

From wire dispatches and staff reports