- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 16, 2000

Cover-up at Justice

Sen. Fred Thompson, the Tennessee Republican whose committee investigated campaign finance abuses by the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign, says a memo written by former Justice Department investigator Charles LaBella confirms that "the so-called public integrity section" engaged in a cover-up to protect Al Gore and others.
"And specifically, the section over there who handled this matter, the public integrity section, they've engaged in a cover-up, Chris. We've been talking about it for a long time now," Mr. Thompson said Tuesday on MSNBC's "Hardball With Chris Matthews."
"The so-called public integrity section over there, after incompetently handling the Clinton-Gore fund-raising scandal for several months, were pulled off of the case, but since that time has been essentially the black hole for any high-level Democratic official… . It goes in the public integrity section; they bring it in there and you never see it again."

3 big mistakes

John McCain's campaign communications director says the Arizona senator made "three major mistakes and a million little ones" during his failed run for the Republican presidential nomination.
Dan Schnur, speaking at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government on Tuesday, said the first mistake the campaign made was to compare George W. Bush to President Clinton in ads in South Carolina. The second mistake was the authorization of phone calls to Catholic voters in Michigan prior to the primary, which "allowed Bush to turn questions about [Bob Jones University] from himself to our own campaign tactics."
Mr. Schnur added: "Even worse, we lied about it, too… . It really hurt our credibility."
The last major mistake cited by Mr. Schnur was Mr. McCain's criticism of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.
"For 10 months, we ran as near a perfect campaign as we could have … but in seven days we melted down," he said.

Ugly contest

The Senate contest in Missouri, featuring Republican incumbent John Ashcroft and Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan, "may prove to be the ugliest this year," USA Today's William Welch reports.
"A Zogby poll in mid-February for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch showed a virtual dead heat. Carnahan led 47 percent to 45 percent, which was within the 3-percentage-point margin of error," the reporter noted.
"The race is attracting big money on both sides, and both candidates have proved to be successful fund-raisers. Ashcroft has collected a total $4.7 million so far to Carnahan's $3.9 million.
"Though overshadowed in national attention by the Senate race in New York between first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the Missouri contest may prove to be the nation's ugliest this year. Already, the two sides have battled over race, religion, the death penalty and abortion."

No free speech

Brandeis University is doing everything it can to keep Charlton Heston from speaking at the school, according to Young America's Foundation.
Mr. Heston, a leader of the National Rifle Association, has been in the news lately with an ad that accuses President Clinton of dishonesty and demagoguery in his campaign for gun control.
"The administration is making absurd requests of the students trying to organize the Heston lecture scheduled for March 28," said the foundation, which is advising the students.
"Most of the requests are related to security, a typical leftist administration dirty trick to stop conservative speakers from coming to campus. So far they have requested a bomb-sniffing dog, 10 police officers, two full-body metal detectors, two metal-detector wands, a paramedic team and four pints of Mr. Heston's blood type."

Quite a diversity leader

An ex-teacher invited to an Education Department seminar on promoting diversity called Govs. George W. and Jeb Bush racists and urged the federal employees present not to vote for Republicans, department officials acknowledged yesterday.

Erica Lepping, a spokeswoman for Education Secretary Richard W. Riley, told the Associated Press yesterday that the context of Jane Elliot's March 8 remarks on child prejudice was not clear.

"We had no reason to believe Ms. Elliot's presentation would end up with her saying the things she did," Miss Lepping said.

Miss Lepping said Leslie Thornton, the department's chief of staff, sent an e-mail memo to staffers denouncing Miss Elliot's statements as "inappropriate in an address to federal employees."

Miss Elliot created a well-known lesson that separates students based on eye color. She got about $7,500 for being in the diversity speaker's series, Miss Lepping said.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra, Michigan Republican, said yesterday he has sent a letter to the Education Department seeking details and demanding to know what it is doing to avoid future recurrences.

Gore defends stock

Vice President Al Gore defended his family's ownership of stock in an oil company that plans to drill on land near a Colombian Indian reserve, saying "there certainly is not" anything wrong with the arrangement.
During his campaign for the presidency, Mr. Gore has been dogged by protesters upset about his connection to Occidental Petroleum Corp., the Associated Press reports. His father, the late former Sen. Albert Gore Sr., served on the board, owned stock in the company and served as chief executive of a subsidiary.
Protesters with Amazon Watch and other groups have urged Mr. Gore to divest his family of the stock, worth as much as $500,000, which was among the elder Mr. Gore's assets when he died last December.
"According to his will, that was put into a trust fund to benefit my mother for the remainder of her life, and I was named executor of his will," Mr. Gore told Tennessee reporters Tuesday. He was asked about the subject after voting at an elementary school near his farm.
"I have legal obligations as executor that are very stringent. I have to comply with the provisions of the will," Mr. Gore said. "If you can find anything wrong with that, please tell me."

A caring candidate

Milwaukee aldermanic candidate Michael O. Hageman, charged with two felony drug counts stemming from the seizure of more than 500 marijuana plants from the basement of his home, says that won't stop him from running for office, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
Mr. Hageman, 56, was charged Tuesday in a criminal complaint that says investigators raided his building after an undercover agent visited and "immediately smelled a strong odor of unburned marijuana" and noticed a "continuously operating box fan" connected to ductwork.
Agents from the Wisconsin Justice Department obtained a search warrant for the building, and seized 237 living and 270 dead marijuana plants ranging in size from 1 inch to 7 feet, according to the complaint.
Mr. Hageman said he gave away the marijuana he grew in his basement to people to treat the pain of cancer, AIDS and other ailments. "If nothing else, the stuff I did downstairs shows I care about people," he said.

Vento returns

Rep. Bruce F. Vento returned to Congress yesterday, only a month after having a lung removed because of cancer, and said the welcome he received from colleagues was gratifying but painful.
"I should have had a badge that said 'No hugs, just kisses,' " Mr. Vento joked, still smarting from a sore back after surgery. "But getting around that minor inconvenience of pain, it was good."
Mr. Vento, 59, announced earlier this year that he had malignant mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer usually linked to asbestos exposure. The Democrat from St. Paul, Minn., said he would not seek re-election after 24 years in Congress.

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