- - Wednesday, June 1, 2011

HOUSE

Democratic winner of N.Y. special election sworn in

The western New York Democrat who captured a surprise victory in a special election after focusing her campaign on Republican plans to reshape Medicare was sworn into office in the House on Wednesday.

Kathy Hochul was elected last week in an outcome that buoyed Democrats still jarred by their loss of House control in the 2010 elections. The conservative district, which curls among rural and suburban towns between Buffalo and Rochester, had long been represented by Republicans.

In brief remarks to her new colleagues after she took the oath from House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, Mrs. Hochul spoke of the need for “a spirit of bipartisanship and cooperation,” making no specific mention of Medicare.

“Today, I enter these chambers confident that we can tackle the challenges that are presented to us. We can and must find common sense solutions to the problems facing each of our districts and our country,” she said.

Her swearing in was met by a standing ovation from both sides of the aisle in the largely full House chamber, though clapping and cheers were louder from Democrats.

ARIZONA

Palin confirms she’s in LLC that bought home

PHOENIX | Sarah Palin has confirmed that she is part of a company that purchased a home north of Phoenix, but she said she hasn’t moved from Alaska.

Safari Investments LLC paid nearly $1.7 million cash for the five-bedroom, 7,900-square-foot home in rural north Scottsdale in May.

In an interview aired Tuesday night, the former Alaska governor told Fox News Channel’s Greta Van Susteren that she is part of Safari Investments and it “has some property in Arizona now.”

“You know, many, many Alaskans purchase property in Arizona, Nevada and Texas,” Mrs. Palin said from her bus that has been touring the East Coast. “I think we do that because not only are we good investors, and it’s a buyer’s market, but we like to thaw out once in a while.”

Mrs. Palin did not reveal any other details.

The Arizona Republic first reported May 21 that Mrs. Palin may have bought the house, but neither Mrs. Palin’s political action committee nor her lawyer responded to inquiries, and the lawyer who handled the deal declined to comment.

It’s common for the wealthy or famous to use a limited liability company to buy property to protect their privacy. Safari Investments was created in Delaware, which doesn’t require the individuals associated with an LLC to publicly disclose their names.

MONTANA

Candidate with KKK ties running for Congress

HELENA | A former organizer for the Ku Klux Klan said Wednesday he is running as a Republican for Montana’s U.S. House seat because he believes people will back him as part of a backlash to the nation’s first black president.

But John Abarr, a 41-year-old night auditor at a Great Falls hotel who lost a local Republican legislative primary in 2002, could have a hard time getting any backing from Montana Republicans. His platform promises to legalize marijuana, increase mental health programs, keep abortion legal, abolish the death penalty because he argues it is unfair to poor people - and “save the White Race.”

Mr. Abarr said the election of President Obama prompted him to get back into politics.

“I think that the fact Obama got elected shows that the white people are starting to lose their political power,” said Mr. Abarr, who last week filed the paperwork to let him start raising money. “I am running to draw attention to the fact that white people are becoming a minority and losing our political power and way of life.”

Republicans who actively undermined Mr. Abarr’s 2002 campaign again rebuked him as a racist. Former Rep. Rick Hill said Republicans were founded on freedom, liberty and equal opportunity.

SOUTH CAROLINA

DeMint spokesman nixes 2012 presidential talk

COLUMBIA | Sen. Jim DeMint’s spokesman is trying to quell speculation about the South Carolina Republican’s political ambitions.

Spokesman Matt Hoskins said Wednesday that Mr. DeMint was seeking to be respectful of supporters when he told a media outlet he was discussing a potential 2012 presidential bid with his wife.

Mr. DeMint is a tea party favorite and has taken on a kingmaker role by raising cash for candidates including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. His entry would likely have an outsized effect on early-voting South Carolina.

Mr. Hoskins said Mr. DeMint is not running but wanted to be respectful of supporters urging him on.

In his interview with “The Hill,” the senator reiterated he has no plans to run and said it “would take an extraordinary set of circumstances” for him to do so.

JUSTICE

Holder: Petty offenders should wait at home

Most nonviolent offenders awaiting trial could be supervised at home instead of being placed in jail without endangering the community, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Wednesday.

Mr. Holder, speaking at the National Symposium on Pretrial Justice, said many Americans accused of nonviolent or petty offenses remain in jail before trial simply because they cannot afford to post bail of even a few hundred dollars. Nearly two-thirds of inmates in county jails are awaiting trial, many for nonviolent crimes, at a huge cost to taxpayers, he said.

“Almost all of these individuals could be released and supervised in their communities - and allowed to pursue or maintain employment, and participate in educational opportunities and their normal family lives - without risk of endangering their fellow citizens or fleeing from justice,” Mr. Holder said in his prepared remarks.

Mr. Holder told an audience of prosecutors, police officials and lawyers that society needs to continue developing better alternatives to incarceration.

He said the Department of Justice was providing guidance to local communities about how best to manage offenders awaiting trial and was also continuing to support programs aimed at helping inmates re-enter society after they serve their sentence and are released from custody.