- - Tuesday, January 15, 2013

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Nearly four years after his affair with an Argentine woman was exposed, former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford plans to announce his return to politics and run for his old congressional seat.

His spokesman, Joel Sawyer, confirmed that the 52-year-old Mr. Sanford would announce his bid on Wednesday. The ex-Republican governor said last month that reports he was planning a political comeback were accurate, and he was in Charleston last week looking for office space for his campaign.

Mr. Sanford’s old 1st District seat is vacant. Its former occupant, Rep. Tim Scott, was appointed to the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the resignation of Sen. Jim DeMint.

The two-term governor was seen as a possible contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination before he vanished from South Carolina for five days in 2009 to visit his mistress in Argentina. Reporters and others were told he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

When he returned to the state, Mr. Sanford confessed the affair in a tearful Statehouse news conference. He later called Maria Belen Chapur his “soul mate,” and the couple got engaged last summer.

The international affair ended any hopes Mr. Sanford had of running for president and destroyed his marriage, which ended in divorce from his wife, Jenny.

WHITE HOUSE

Clinton daughter chosen to aid inaugural event

Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton has signed on to help promote President Obama’s inaugural kick-off event to get Americans across the country engaged in serving their communities.

Inaugural planners announced Tuesday that Ms. Clinton will be honorary chairwoman of the National Day of Service, the president’s call for Americans to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King on the holiday weekend celebrating his birthday. They said Ms. Clinton would headline a service summit on the Mall on Saturday, with other participants, including actresses Eva Longoria and Angela Basset, singers Ben Folds and Yolanda Adams, television personality Star Jones and Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, the vice president’s son.

It’s a new inaugural role for the 32-year-old Ms. Clinton, who participated in the festivities as an adolescent, standing next to her father, Bill Clinton, as he was sworn into office in 1993 and 1997.

Ms. Clinton was often seen but not heard as a youth growing up in the White House, but increasingly has made her public voice heard in recent years. She campaigned for her mother, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in the 2008 presidential primary campaign against Mr. Obama and now is an NBC News special correspondent. Last fall, she traveled to Nigeria on behalf of her father’s charitable foundation, meeting with the country’s president and promoting the Clinton Health Access Initiative’s efforts to reduce child mortality there.

HOUSE

Democrats again hit DOMA defense backed by Boehner

House Democratic leaders say Speaker John A. Boehner is hypocritically ramping up a taxpayer-funded defense of the Defense of Marriage Act in federal courts while simultaneously calling for government spending cuts.

In a Wednesday letter to the Ohio Republican, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland said they object to Mr. Boehner “secretly increasing” to $3 million a House contract with an outside counsel to defend the law that defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman.

“It would be bad enough if Republicans were losing in court and accepting the result. Yet it is the height of hypocrisy for House Republicans to waste public funds in one breath, then claim the mantle of fiscal responsibility in the next,” the Democrats wrote.

“With Republicans willing to take our economy and our country to the brink of default in the name of deficit reduction, there is simply no excuse for any member of Congress to commit taxpayer dollars to an unnecessary — and futile — legal battle.”

IOWA

Paul loyalists quietly in place in GOP groups

DES MOINES — Former Rep. Ron Paul may have exited the political stage, but his legions of followers say they are only getting started.

Loyalists of the two-time Republican presidential candidate from Texas have quietly taken over key state GOP organizations, ensuring fights with the GOP establishment as the party tries to heal from its 2012 defeat and laying the groundwork for a future presidential candidate.

Their new relevance, especially in early caucus states Iowa and Nevada, could clear the way for such a candidate, perhaps the Texan’s son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. It’s the next step in the group’s ongoing development, from rambunctious malcontents of just a few years ago into more serious party activists bent on reshaping a party they say has drifted from its conservative roots.

TEXAS

State lawmaker pushes law to stop gun ban

A Texas state lawmaker plans to introduce legislation that would make it illegal for officials to enforce any measures approved by President Obama or passed by Congress that ban so-called assault weapons or limit the capacity of gun ammunition clips, a San Antonio radio station reported.

Republican Rep. Steve Toth said on WOAI 1200-AM that his Firearms Protection Act will make trying to enforce a federal gun ban in the state subject to a $50,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

He plans to file the measure after speaking with state Attorney General Greg Abbott.

“At some point, there needs to be a showdown between the states and the federal government over the Supremacy Clause,” Mr. Toth said. “It is our responsibility to push back when those laws are infringed by King Obama.”

HHS

Administration appealing ruling on contraception

The Obama administration is appealing a judge’s order that is temporarily preventing the government from forcing a Christian publishing company to provide its employees with certain contraceptives under the new health care law.

In November, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton granted a preliminary injunction sought by Tyndale House Publishers. The company doesn’t want to provide contraceptives such as Plan B and IUDs, which Tyndale equates with abortion. Nothing in Judge Walton’s order applied to anyone other than Tyndale.

The Health and Human Services Department and other agencies named in the lawsuit appealed Judge Walton’s order on Tuesday.

Tyndale, based in Carol Stream, Ill., says it provides its 260 employees with coverage for some contraceptives. The company and its president and CEO, Mark D. Taylor, filed the lawsuit last year.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports