- - Sunday, April 29, 2012

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney says the U.S. should do everything it can to protect a Chinese activist who escaped house arrest and was reported to be hiding in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

In a statement released Sunday, Mr. Romney said the incident involving Chen Guangcheng points toward the broader issue of human rights and that the U.S. should help to reform the communist regime. Mr. Chen exposed forced abortions and sterilizations as a result of China’s one-child policy.

“Any serious U.S. policy toward China,” said Mr. Romney, “must confront the facts of the Chinese government’s denial of political liberties, its one-child policy and other violations of human rights.”

President Obama has not spoken publicly on the incident, which comes on the eve of diplomatic talks with Beijing.

SECRET SERVICE

Scandal highlights lack of women in program

The prostitution scandal embroiling the Secret Service has highlighted the dearth of women in the agency.

It’s also raising questions about whether more females in the ranks would prevent future dishonor.

The Secret Service says women make up about 25 percent of the entire workforce, though only about 11 percent of special agents and uniformed officers. That’s lower than the 19 percent of female special agents in the FBI, but still higher than the percentage of female agents in the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan says the agency is working to recruit more women and that there are women in leadership positions. Those recruitment efforts may be set back by the scandal in Colombia, which has implicated a dozen Secret Service employees and a dozen military personnel.

MAINE

Maine’s governor calls state workers ‘corrupt’

PORTLAND — Maine’s blunt-speaking governor is again creating a ruckus with his offhanded remarks — this time by calling state government middle managers “about as corrupt as can be.”

At a town hall-style meeting in Newport on Thursday night, Republican Gov. Paul LePage was asked why there are so many fees associated with getting a cosmetologist license.

In response, the governor said state government is too big and too costly and that the state workforce is part of the problem. Mr. LePage told the crowd that he has control over appointed state workers, but has little authority over middle managers and other unionized state employees.

“The problem is, middle management of the state is about as corrupt as can be,” Mr. LePage said in remarks first reported by MaineToday Media.

With the remark buzzing around the Statehouse on Friday, Mr. LePage sent an email to more than 11,000 state workers to clarify his remarks, praising the majority of state workers, but saying that some union bosses and state workers are intent on maintaining the status quo.

Offering no apologies, Mr. LePage had a blunt message for those workers who have been “corrupted” by a bureaucratic mindset that’s intent on “doing the same thing because it was always done that way” and for the “union bosses” who he said have urged workers to resist the administration’s changes.

“If you are dragging your feet because you do not like the direction the administration is headed, then it is time to either get on board or get out of the way,” he wrote.

Maine State Employees Association President Ginette Rivard said state employees are “honest public servants” and that she was unaware of any corruption within the ranks of state government.

“These public workers do important work for all Maine people,” Ms. Rivard said. “For Gov. LePage to call them ‘corrupt’ is baseless and insulting to every public worker who has dedicated their lives to making Maine a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

In less than 16 months as governor, Mr. LePage has earned a reputation for talking bluntly. Even before he was elected, Mr. LePage caused a stir when he told a crowd that he would tell President Obama to “go to hell.”

FCC

TV stations must post ad-rate information online

The Federal Communications Commission has voted to require TV stations to post online the advertising rates they charge political candidates and advocacy groups.

Friday’s vote came despite strong opposition from many broadcasters. They say posting advertising rates would undermine stations’ competitive position in the marketplace and give advertisers unfair leverage over how much they are willing to pay.

Rate information is already publicly available on paper at the stations.

The new rule will require stations to digitize and upload the information in real time to the FCC’s website. Network-affiliated stations in the top 50 markets will have six months to comply. For all others, the deadline is 2014.

The FCC chairman says the information shouldn’t be “stuck in a filing cabinet” in an online world.

NEW YORK

Feds investigating NBA players union

NEW YORK — The federal government is investigating the business practices of the NBA players association.

The union confirmed Friday it has received a subpoena for documents from the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan and says it will cooperate with the investigation.

The NBPA also said in a statement that it has appointed a special committee to oversee an internal inquiry, including a financial audit.

Recent reports have questioned the NBPA’s finances and spending practices, largely having to do with the hiring of family members and firms that employ relatives of Executive Director Billy Hunter. Mr. Hunter says he will cooperate with the internal inquiry, but will not be in involved in the effort so it remains independent.

The special committee consists of members of the NBPA executive committee and other player representatives. The special committee has retained Theodore V. Wells Jr. and the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP to conduct the inquiry.

The NBPA said in the statement it looks forward to putting the matters to rest.

Carly Sullivan, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, said: “We have no comment. We don’t confirm or deny investigations.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports