Inside Politics: FEC expected to rule against Feinstein

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A draft opinion by the Federal Election Commission suggests it probably won’t go along with a request from Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s re-election campaign to allow her to replace millions of dollars in embezzled campaign contributions by going back to many of her original donors.

The FEC is likely to take a final vote on her request Thursday.

Ms. Feinstein’s campaign treasurer, Kinde Durkee, pleaded guilty last week to defrauding numerous California politicians of at least $7 million. Ms. Feinstein was the hardest hit, losing an estimated $4.5 million.

The senator had hoped that her supporters could contribute again without the original donation being counted against federal caps.

But an advisory opinion Friday said any contributions deposited in a bank account or cashed must be counted against the cap.

STATE

Integration cited as only option for Serbs

Kosovo’s prime minister says integration is the only option he will accept for his country’s aggrieved Serb population.

Speaking after meetings with Vice President Joseph R. Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton last week, Hashim Thaci rejected calls for greater autonomy for Serb communities in Kosovo’s north.

He also said Friday that he would never consider a territorial swap with Serbia as a solution.

“There will be no territorial swap, there will be no autonomy, no special favor,” he said. “There will be only integration.”

Mr. Thaci said he would like to have Kosovo’s border open, but he added: “There will be no change of the border.”

Kosovo was once a province of Serbia and declared independence in 2008, a move that Belgrade and many Serbs who live in Kosovo’s north still vehemently reject.

MINNESOTA

In Midwest, GOP shrinks from battles over unions

ST. PAUL — Fifteen months after taking control of Minnesota’s Legislature, Republicans have put a gay marriage ban on this November’s ballot, moved to expand gun rights and cast dozens of votes to cut state spending. But there’s one issue in which they failed to get traction: watering down the strength of organized labor with a right-to-work law.

The problem isn’t so much opposition from Democrats. And it isn’t a lack of enthusiasm for the idea, which many conservatives consider essential for creating a business-friendly economic climate. The problem lies with Republicans who fear triggering a huge rebellion among opposition labor unions and sending a surge of sympathetic voters to the polls in November to vote Democratic.

In Minnesota and elsewhere across the Midwest, the question of what to do about the right-to-work issue is pitting Republican against Republican, straining relationships among longtime allies and weighing cherished ideals against political tactics.

“We wait and we wait and we wait, and then if we get the opportunity and we fail to take it, then the issue is done,” said Michelle Benson, a frustrated Republican state senator from suburban Minneapolis who sounded off after House and Senate leaders recently decided not to move on the issue.

The passage of a right-to-work measure in Indiana this year emboldened supporters in Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Missouri to try to carry the initiative across the Rust Belt. But many GOP leaders were instead more impressed by the furor that the unions created in defeat. Protesters mobbed the state capitol in Indianapolis and Democratic lawmakers periodically disrupted the legislative session with boycotts. Huge demonstrations also came after Wisconsin Republicans stripped public employees of collective bargaining rights last year.

“Whether you agree with right to work or not, you’ve got to agree there’ll be millions of dollars coming in from other states, and thousands of people,” said Minnesota state Rep. Tony Cornish, a Republican who opposes trying to pass a bill. “Buses emptying out, banners, people camping.”

LOUISIANA

Allies praise judge upset by Obama court remarks

NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge who called out President Obama for saying it would be “unprecedented” for the Supreme Court to strike down a law like his administration’s health care overhaul is a conservative voice on what may be the nation’s most conservative appeals court.

But those who know Judge Jerry E. Smith from his years on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans and earlier days in Texas politics paint a more complex portrait. They say he is someone not bound by conservative ideology or afraid to buck the Republican Party line.

Ilya Somin is a George Mason University law professor who clerked for Judge Smith in 2001 and 2002. He said Judge Smith takes his judicial responsibilities seriously and is “very careful to stay out of any political controversy.”

MICHIGAN

Detroit mayor released from hospital over weekend

DETROIT — Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has been released from the hospital, where he was being treated for blood clots in his lungs.

Mr. Bing’s office said he left Henry Ford Hospital on Saturday. The 68-year-old was readmitted Wednesday to the hospital, where he had recently undergone surgery for a perforated colon.

He was hospitalized on the same day that Detroit and state leaders announced a deal to head off the appointment of a state financial manager for the debt-ridden city. In Mr. Bing’s absence, Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis led negotiations with Gov. Rick Snyder’s office on the deal.

Mr. Bing is expected to return to work by the end of the month. His office said he continues to be involved in city operations through regular meetings with Mr. Lewis and other members of the staff.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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