- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 27, 2000

Space invaders

Wonder why first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton isn't joining the chorus complaining that her senatorial opponent, Rep. Rick Lazio, invaded her space by crossing the stage during last week's debate in New York?

Maybe because it was Mrs. Clinton in 1990 who stormed into a news conference called by her husband's Democratic gubernatorial opponent, waving her finger as she loudly approached the podium.

"Bill was out of town as I recall," the one-time candidate, Tom McRae, tells Inside the Beltway in a telephone interview from Arkadelphia, Ark., "And I was holding this press conference in the rotunda of the state Capitol and she came in and interrupted it. I'd say it was an ambush."

Mr. McRae says he learned later "it was a totally planned episode. I gather she and Bill both planned it."

Still, he says in retrospect, Mrs. Clinton stealing the spotlight that day was the best unscheduled event of his campaign.

"She tripled my name recognition in hours," he tells this column. "My media consultant told me to get her to do it again."

Actually, Mr. McRae says he and Mrs. Clinton sat on several boards together, and he not only respects the first lady, "if I were in New York I certainly would vote for Hillary. She's a very exceptional, intelligent woman," he says.

Judge for yourself

The Environmental Protection Agency is looking into an e-mail purportedly circulated by its chief administrative law judge, Susan Biro, that smells of presidential politics.

"This e-mail details Judge Biro's political views and is no doubt intended to sway the opinion of the recipients to her political views," an EPA whistleblower writes in a letter to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel in Washington, suggesting the judge violated the Hatch Act.

"This e-mail was circulated using a government-owned computer," says the staffer, attaching the e-mail that shows it originating from Judge Biro's computer. "It was also done during Judge Biro's normal duty hours. It was sent from a government office to recipients in government offices."

On the distribution list are 10 persons, eight of them government employees, seven of them directly supervised by the judge.

"The state of Texas, under the leadership of Governor George W. Bush, is ranked: 50th in spending for teachers' salaries, 49th in spending on the environment, 48th in per-capita funding for public health, 47th in delivery of social services, 42 in child-support collections, 41 in per-capita spending on public education," the e-mail reads.

"And … 5th in percentage of population living in poverty, 1st in air and water pollution, 1st in percentage of poor working parents without insurance, 1st in percentage of children without health insurance, 1st in executions (average 1 every 2 weeks for Bush's 5 years as Governor).

"Just think of what he could do for the country if he were president!"

No official response yet from the EPA.

W. Michael McCabe, the EPA's acting deputy administrator, warned EPA senior staff on April 11 of Hatch Act requirements, noting the Office of Special Counsel had just filed a complaint for disciplinary action against EPA Regional Administrator Bill Yellowtail for alleged Hatch Act violations.

"Administrator [Carol M.] Browner and I take the requirements of the Hatch Act very seriously and have emphasized compliance by all employees and particularly the agency's senior leadership during frequent ethics briefings," wrote Mr. McCabe, who placed Mr. Yellowtail on leave without pay.

Face to face

There was some brief excitement on the Senate floor this week when Sen. Larry E. Craig, Idaho Republican, quoted an absent Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, one too many times.

Mr. Byrd was sitting in his Capitol Hill office when over the loudspeaker he heard Mr. Craig "using my name" seven times as an example of a Democrat who understands the importance of getting bills passed and sent to the president.

Before Mr. Craig could finish his remarks, the 82-year-old Mr. Byrd raced his way across Capitol Hill to the floor of the Senate.

"We want good will and we want cooperation," an agitated Mr. Byrd interrupted. "But one way to get cooperation from this senator when his name is going to be used is to call this senator before the senator who wishes to call my name goes to the floor and let me know that I am going to be spoken of.

"I have been in the Senate 42 years and I have never yet spoken of another senator behind his back in any critical terms never," Mr. Byrd said. "Frankly, I don't appreciate it. I like to be on the floor where I can defend myself … .

"I like to go face to face with anything I have to say about a senator, and I would appreciate the same treatment."

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