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Inside Politics: Massachusetts Senate race raises questions on heritage

- - Monday, April 30, 2012

BOSTON — Republican Massachusetts Sen. Scott P. Brown and his chief Democratic rival, Elizabeth Warren, are trading jabs over her statements about her American Indian heritage.

Mrs. Warren says she's proud of her family's ties to the Cherokee and Delaware tribes, although her campaign has yet to produce documentation.

The Oklahoma native also said she was unaware Harvard Law School identified her as an American Indian in the late 1990s, although earlier academic directories indicated she had identified herself as a "minority law teacher."

Mr. Brown's campaign manager said Mrs. Warren has to "come clean about her motivations." Mr. Brown told reporters Monday it's up to Mrs. Warren to answer questions.

Mrs. Warren's campaign manager accused Mr. Brown of making "nasty insinuations."

The Harvard law professor who recruited Mrs. Warren said he didn't know about her American Indian heritage at the time.

PENNSYLVANIA

Clinton, Bush, Boehner to host Flight 93 event

PITTSBURGH — The National Park Foundation says two former presidents and the speaker of the U.S. House will host a fundraiser in Washington for the Flight 93 National Memorial.

The foundation said Monday that former President Bill Clinton, former President George W. Bush and House Speaker John A. Boehner will host the benefit May 15. The bipartisan event aims to secure funding for the complete memorial, including a learning center and a Tower of Voices containing 40 large wind chimes.

The first phase of the memorial was dedicated in September.

The site honors the 40 passengers and crew members who died when the airliner crashed in a field about 75 miles southeast of Pittsburgh on Sept. 11, 2001. Passengers fought terrorists for control of the hijacked plane that was believed to be targeting Washington.

ILLINOIS

High court orders review of ex-Gov. Ryan's appeal

CHICAGO — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ordered a lower court to look at former Illinois Gov. George Ryan's bid to overturn his corruption convictions, a decision that cracks open the possibility that the imprisoned Republican could win a new trial.

The decision marked one of the few significant rulings that have been in Ryan's favor since he was convicted of taking kickbacks for steering state business to insiders, among other corruption schemes. When told of the court's decision, the 78-year-old former governor sounded pleased, said Jim Thompson, one of Ryan's attorneys.

"He was very gratified ... I could hear it, hear it in his voice," Mr. Thompson, himself a former Illinois governor, told the Associated Press. "This is his first legal victory since proceedings against him started more than six years ago."

The high court took issue with how Chicago's 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reached its decision to reject his appeal, but it stopped well short of overturning Ryan's convictions. Any new trial, if it happened, would focus solely on several fraud convictions, Mr. Thompson said.

It will take time for the legal issues to play out, said another Ryan attorney, Albert Alschuler.

"We hope that, ultimately, this Supreme Court action means a new trial," he said. "It certainly won't be happen tomorrow."

Ryan, who has denied wrongdoing, is serving the tail end of a 6 1/2-year sentence in a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., on multiple convictions, which in addition to fraud included conspiracy, tax fraud and making false statements to the FBI. His successor as governor, Democrat Rod R. Blagojevich, also in prison for corruption; he began serving a 14-year sentence in March.

STATE

U.S., Philippines hold high-level security talks

The U.S. says it will help build the Philippines' sea patrol capability but will not take sides in that nation's standoff with China at a disputed shoal in the South China Sea.

The top diplomats and defense officials of the treaty allies held their first joint meeting Monday and discussed the three-week standoff at the Scarborough Shoal.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reaffirmed U.S. commitment to its mutual defense treaty with the Philippines, and to freedom of navigation and regional security. She reiterated support for a diplomatic resolution to territorial disputes.

A joint statement said they would cooperate on building the Philippines' maritime security capabilities. The U.S. will transfer a second ship to the poorly equipped Philippines navy this year.

WISCONSIN

Governor raises $13M in effort to fight recall

MADISON — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's campaign said he raised more than $13 million from mid-January through last week as he fights a recall effort.

The governor's campaign said the money came from nearly 126,000 donors.

Mr. Walker raised $13.1 million between Jan. 1 and April 23, eclipsing his own record of $12.1 million in fundraising for a state office he set in 2011.

Democrats are trying to oust Mr. Walker and five other Republicans as payback for passing a law last year that stripped most public workers of nearly all their union rights. A primary election is set for May 8, with a general recall election to follow on June 5.

COMMERCE

Consumer spending slow in March, but income rose

Americans increased their spending more slowly in March, raising questions that consumers could be worried about the economy.

The Commerce Department said consumer spending increased just 0.3 percent in March after a 0.9 percent gain in February. Income grew 0.4 percent following a 0.3 percent gain in February.

Consumer spending is closely watched because it accounts for 70 percent of economic growth. It rose at the fastest pace in more than a year in the January-March quarter. But consumers could be cutting back because of weak income gains and a slowdown in hiring.

The amount of income left after paying taxes was up just 0.2 percent in March after adjusting for inflation. The tiny increase followed two months of declines.

CONGRESS

Alabama congressman cleared in ethics panel investigation

The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee said Monday he's been cleared by an ethics panel that investigated his investment activities leading up to and surrounding Congress' $700 billion bailout of Wall Street.

Rep. Spencer Bachus, Alabama Republican, said the Office of Congressional Ethics voted 6-0 on Friday to dismiss allegations that he profited from nonpublic information learned on the job.

Mr. Bachus, a 10-term House member, easily won his March primary.

From wire dispatches and staff reports