- - Monday, June 18, 2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Democratic West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says he won’t attend the party’s national convention, citing serious problems with President Obama.

A Tomblin spokesman, Chris Stadelman, said Monday that the governor has serious problems with Republican Mitt Romney, too.

Under party rules, Mr. Tomblin is an automatic superdelegate to the Democratic National Convention. He says his time is best spent working in West Virginia, not attending the four-day political rally in Charlotte, N.C.

In West Virginia’s presidential primary, Mr. Tomblin refused to say whether he voted for Mr. Obama.

Mr. Tomblin’s Republican challenger this fall, Bill Maloney, lost to Mr. Tomblin by only about 7,000 votes in a special election last year.

SENATE

Senators push bill to battle fraud in boxing

Two senators are pushing legislation to establish oversight of professional boxing after Timothy Bradley’s controversial split decision over Manny Pacquiao in a welterweight title bout.

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada introduced legislation Monday that would create the U.S. Boxing Commission. Mr. McCain said it would bring integrity to the sport and avoid the conflicts of interest that have fans challenging the outcome of fights.

Earlier this month in Las Vegas, Pacquiao seemed to have the win in hand, but two judges decided otherwise, giving Bradley the split decision. It ended Pacquiao’s seven-year unbeaten run.

Mr. McCain said that fight only fueled what he called “the legitimate distrust boxing fans have for the integrity of the sport.”

The commission would oversee all boxing matches.

TAXES

Anti-tax pledge author to brief House Republicans

Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist is going to Congress to tutor House Republicans on what they meant when they signed his pledge to oppose tax increases.

Mr. Norquist’s private briefing for lawmakers and staff comes as President Obama and Congress are gearing up for battle over whether to extend trillions in tax cuts that expire in January, and whether the entire tax code should be overhauled. The Thursday session also comes with some Republicans saying the pledge is too confining at a time of mammoth federal deficits.

Nearly every House and Senate Republican has pledged to oppose efforts to raise tax rates and to use any elimination of deductions or credits to lower rates.

Mr. Norquist says the pledge is doing fine, and that he wants to help Republicans communicate its meaning.

CAMPAIGN

Kerry to be Romney stand-in for Obama debate practice

President Obama has tapped the Democratic presidential nominee from 2004 to stand in for his Republican rival when he starts preparing for three televised debates this fall, a Democratic official said Monday.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the choice had not been formally announced.

John F. Kerry, a Massachusetts politician like Mr. Romney, knows both the rigors of a presidential debate as well as Mr. Romney’s record as a former one-term governor of their state.

Role playing in debate preparations is a key that helps candidates anticipate likely rebuttals and charges, as well as prepare for the long and potentially treacherous media event. In 2008, Mr. Obama used Washington attorney Greg Craig to play Republican rival John McCain.

Mr. Romney’s campaign would not comment who would play Mr. Obama during Mr. Romney’s debate preparations.

COURTS

Supreme Court sides with prosecution in DNA case

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld a rape conviction over objections that the defendant did not have the chance to question the reliability of the DNA evidence that helped convict him.

The court’s 5-4 ruling went against a run of high court decisions that bolstered the right of criminal defendants to confront witnesses against them.

Justice Clarence Thomas provided the margin of difference in the case to uphold the conviction of Sandy Williams, even though Thomas has more often sided with defendants on the issue of cross-examination of witnesses.

The case grew out of a DNA expert’s testimony that helped convict Williams of rape. The expert testified that Williams’ DNA matched a sample taken from the victim, but the expert played no role in the tests that extracted genetic evidence from the victim’s sample.

And no one from the company that performed the analysis showed up at the trial to defend it.

The court has previously ruled that defendants have the right to cross-examine the forensic analysts who prepare laboratory reports used at trial.

SAFETY

Company ordered to pay damages for firing workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is ordering railroad operator Norfolk Southern to pay more than $800,000 for firing three workers after they reported injuries on the job.

Safety officials said Monday that the incidents are part of a larger pattern in which the Norfolk, Va.-based company retaliates against employees for reporting work-related injuries, creating a chilling effect in the railroad industry.

The violations of federal whistleblower laws involved a laborer in Greenville, S.C., an engineer in Louisville, Ky., and a railroad conductor based in Harrisburg, Pa.

Payments include back pay, compensatory damages and about $525,000 in punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.

Norfolk Southern spokesman Robin Chapman said the company plans to appeal all three administrative rulings.

HONORS

CIA director, NFL vet among Jefferson Awards honorees

The director of the CIA, two musicians and a former Buffalo Bills quarterback are among the people being honored with a national prize for public service that was co-founded 40 years ago by former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Recipients of the 2012 Jefferson Awards will accept their honors Tuesday in Washington during a luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and at an evening celebration at Constitution Hall. Most of the 18 recipients of the awards, dubbed a “Nobel Prize” for public service, are not celebrities.

The more well-known honorees include CIA director David H. Petraeus, who led U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and became head of the CIA in 2011.

Jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis and singer-actor Harry Connick Jr. are being honored for their efforts to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Hall of Fame Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly is being honored with his wife, Jill, for creating a foundation in honor of his son Hunter. Hunter was diagnosed with Krabbe disease, a rare genetic disorder that affects the central nervous system, and died in 2005 at age 8.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports