- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 18, 2000

Moakley does it all

Calls Friday morning for Karin Walser, press secretary to Rep. Joe Moakley, were answered by, well, Joe Moakley.

"You'd be surprised at what I do around here," Mr. Moakley told reporter John Godfrey of The Washington Times, who was a little surprised to hear the Massachusetts Democrat at the other end of the line.

Staff later confirmed the Massachusetts Democrat enjoys getting on the horn. There was a divide, however, on whether he does it to be helpful or as a way to tweak staffers whom he has beaten to the office in the morning.

The World War II Navy veteran has reportedly braved snowstorms and ice storms alike.

OK, Friday's hazard was the gale-force winds of members fleeing town for the Easter recess, but let the record reflect, the message for Mrs. Walser was dutifully relayed.

Dud of an issue

"It isn't impeachment that is imperiling Jim Rogan's re-election to Congress this year. It's the Burbank airport," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"Local issues, not the baby-faced [California] Republican's role as a prosecutor in President Clinton's impeachment trial, are defining this pivotal contest in the fight for control of the House and threatening to end Mr. Rogan's short career on Capitol Hill," reporter Greg Hitt writes.

"For all the attention devoted by both political parties to last year's explosive proceedings, impeachment is turning out to be a dud of an election-year issue, and not just in Mr. Rogan's district… . No Republican lawmaker appears to be paying a major price for having voted to impeach Mr. Clinton, and no Democrat is suffering for having defended him."

Lotsa luck, Janet

"Should Janet Reno wrench Elian [Gonzalez] from the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave to return him to Papa and his hometown, life for the kid will be like this:

"His school is directly but absolutely directly across the street from a [brothel]. The best little [brothel] in Cardenas," writes gossip columnist Cindy Adams, who went on to describe the extreme poverty in the city of 75,000.

"Prostitution is big business in Cuba," the columnist said.

Mrs. Adams, who cited free-lance reporter Karen Feld, added, "The air is clouded with black smoke from the rum factory behind the row house Juan Miguel Gonzalez calls his casa.

"Small fish swim in a gutter in front of the house. Small children play with homemade toys in the narrow roadways."

However, on the bright side, the Cuban authorities have repainted Juan Miguel's tiny house.

"Janet Reno, lotsa luck," the columnist concluded.

Friends in need

Southern California members of the U.S. House of Representatives with safe seats in November's election are transferring tens of thousands from their campaign war chests to assist congressional allies, Federal Election Commission records show.

Spurred on by party leaders who have asked incumbents to share their wealth in the battle for control of the House, where Republicans now hold a slim 222-211 majority, members are contributing to candidates both in and outside of California, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

Critics said that sharing campaign cash, which is legal under federal election law, raises serious ethical questions. Donors said they are merely supporting their parties and cementing alliances that will make them better lawmakers.

Rep. Howard L. Berman, who faces no serious opposition in November, has been a leading local donor, contributing $24,000 from his Berman for Congress fund to 12 fellow Democrats.

House members' campaigns are allowed to contribute up to $1,000 per candidate per election, whether a primary or a general election.

Totals of up to $4,000 per candidate are allowable if the candidate is also involved in a special election, such as Democratic Rep. Joe Baca, who got $4,000 from Mr. Berman.

Mr. Berman's donations include $2,000 apiece to Reps. Lois Capps and Brad Sherman; state Sen. Adam Schiff, who is challenging Republican Rep. James E. Rogan; and former Rep. Jane Harman, who is trying to unseat Republican Rep. Steven T. Kuykendall.

Other notable congressional donors with safe seats include Republican Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, who has given $36,000 from his campaign fund to 19 GOP House members and candidates. Republican Rep. Jerry Lewis has donated $28,000; Democratic Rep. Henry A. Waxman, $19,000; and Democratic Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, $13,000.

Ventura pressure fails

Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura tried yesterday to persuade Arizona Sen. John McCain to resume his presidential campaign as an independent. But the Arizona senator already had said no one could talk him into such a move.

"I will not leave the Republican Party," Mr. McCain said at the Mall of America before meeting Mr. Ventura in St. Paul. "The Republican Party is my home.

Mr. Ventura, who likely won't back either major party's nominee, said Mr. McCain could win.

"I told him I felt quite strongly he would have a chance to win" as an independent, Mr. Ventura told the Associated Press after the hourlong meeting in which the men also discussed their Navy pasts, wrestling, campaign finance reform and youth voting.

What Gingrich said

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich did not say that Texas Gov. George W. Bush's staff is too inexperienced for a national presidential campaign, nor did Mr. Gingrich say that first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton would easily beat New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani for a U.S. Senate seat from New York, according to a corrected story put out by the Associated Press yesterday.

A portion of the errant wire story appeared in this space yesterday.

What Mr. Gingrich did say in his appearance Saturday in Richmond: Mr. Bush's staff of advisers are "not quite up to speed yet" in running a presidential campaign, and Mr. Bush's team "still has a little bit of Austin [Texas] in their style" and isn't fully prepared for a national operation.

As for the first lady, Mr. Gingrich said she had "a very good chance" of beating Mr. Giuliani in the New York Senate race.

"If I were guessing right now, I would say she probably has the edge to win," Mr. Gingrich said.

More word games

President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore were playing word games on whether a President Gore would pardon his predecessor or whether Mr. Clinton would accept such a pardon, Dick Morris writes.

"Clinton did not say he would 'not accept' a pardon. Gore did not say that he would 'rule out' pardoning Clinton. Each man left the door open to an eventual pardon," Mr. Morris said in his New York Post column.

"If the Republicans are alive and awake, they will insist on pinning down the vice president with the following question: 'Are you willing to commit that you would not pardon President Clinton or Mrs. Clinton under any circumstances if you win the presidency?' "

No e-mails

President Clinton made a joke at his own expense yesterday when a 9-year-old boy asked him how he uses the Internet.

Mr. Clinton replied that he has shopped on line, but doesn't use electronic mail.

"If I want to talk to my daughter, I pick up the phone," Mr. Clinton told the crowd in East Palo Alto, Calif., at an event where he announced new grants to improve telecommunications services in poor and minority communities.

Then, with a rueful laugh, Mr. Clinton made a remark that brought to mind the Justice Department's investigation into thousands of incoming White House e-mail messages on campaign fund raising and other matters.

"If you work for the government, you don't use e-mail very much unless you want it all in the newspapers," Mr. Clinton said.

Armey's advice

House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas, in a memo reported by Paul Bedard of U.S. News & World Report, offered this advice to fellow Republicans heading home for the Easter recess:

"Republicans win elections when we unite behind big ideas. Democrats win when they can focus attention on personalities. If this election is about smirks and earth tones, their team wins."

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