- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 19, 2001

The Torricelli probe
Federal investigators are zeroing in on thousands of dollars in purported illegal gifts to Sen. Robert G. Torricelli, the New York Times reports, citing "people involved in the case."
"Among the items that Mr. Torricelli received from the former backer, the people said, are at least 10 Italian-made suits, an $8,100 Rolex watch, bean-shaped cuff links from Tiffany & Company, a $1,500 area rug, $600 earrings for one of Mr. Torricellis former girlfriends and a 52-inch Toshiba television set," reporters Tim Golden and David Kocieniewski write.
"The former supporter, David Chang, has told investigators that as part of a lengthy effort to win Mr. Torricellis help with several international business deals, he also gave the Democratic legislator tens of thousands of dollars in cash to spend on official travels, vacations and shopping trips."
A lawyer for the New Jersey Democrat denied any wrongdoing.
Investigators, who recently searched Mr. Torricellis home in Englewood, N.J., "have gathered corroborating evidence of at least some of the gifts from other sources" besides Mr. Chang, the reporters said, citing anonymous sources.
Under federal law and Senate ethics rules, legislators cannot accept gifts worth more than $50, with a limit of $100 from any donor in one year. Mr. Torricelli did not list any of the supposed gifts on his annual disclosure statements.

Klaymans gamble
Larry Klayman and his legal group are taking a gamble by going after the new Republican administration with the same vigor in which they pursued the Clinton team, writes David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union.
"Larry Klayman made his name suing Bill and Hillary Clinton every time they turned around. Last week the founder and head of Judicial Watch turned his guns on President George W. Bush and House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Texas Republican. They are, he intimates, not much better than the Clintons, and unless they straighten up and fly right he is ready to sue, sue, sue," Mr. Keene said in his column in the Hill newspaper.
Mr. Klayman has accused Mr. DeLay and the National Republican Congressional Committee of attempting to sell access to Bush administration officials, charges Mr. Keene described as "a Klayman declaration of war on the GOP and the president."
"Cynics suggest that Klayman pursues his watchdog role because he cant help himself. This, after all, is a man who sued his mother. Others say his motives are suspect in the NRCC-DeLay case because of a business dispute, but if one takes Klayman at his word, he comes across more as a superlitigious Common Cause type than as a conservative," Mr. Keene said.
"Indeed, to listen to him, one is forced to conclude that he just happened to be targeting Democrats and liberals during the Clinton years, but is now ready to go after conservatives and Republicans with equal vigor.
"The question is whether he can get conservatives or others to continue to write checks to his operation while he attacks DeLay rather than Clinton. Whether one likes him or agrees with him, Larry Klayman has now put his future and that of the organization he founded on the line."

A European perspective
"Suppose your federal government dramatically slashed tax rates for the well-to-do, all in the name of promoting economic growth. Suppose, too, that it is running a budget deficit and plans to do so for at least the next several years.
"You might assume that you live in a country governed by a bunch of reckless right-wingers, willing to risk the nations economic health for the benefit of a tiny fat-cat constituency. In fact, you reside in socialist Western Europe," writes Olaf Gersemann, Washington correspondent for the German business and economic weekly Wirtschafts Woche.
"Though most of Europes countries are ruled by left-of-center governments, taxes are coming down across the Continent. Not only are tax-loving countries like the Netherlands and Sweden cutting rates, but so are economic heavyweights like France (yes, France) and Germany," Mr. Gersemann said in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.
"Meanwhile, the only major industrial country that is running a large budget surplus, but where apparently respectable people still claim that it cant afford a major tax cut, is the U.S. Viewed from a European perspective, Americas epic tax debate is strange indeed."

No preening necessary
"Without Bush being tested by catastrophic events, there is no way to tell how far he will carry his current no-undue-emotion-please-Im-governing stance," USA Today columnist Walter Shapiro writes.
"Reagan responded to the Challenger disaster with haunting eloquence. Similarly, Clintons empathetic gifts powered his moving response to the Oklahoma City bombing," Mr. Shapiro said.
"But this presidential power to galvanize the nation should not be squandered on ephemeral moments. Just in the public realm alone, Clinton was wanton with his empathetic outpourings. A president, after all, is elected to govern, not just to feel. It is a dangerous illusion to believe that every time a president makes a routine decision, the faces of ordinary Americans, whom he has met in his travels, flash through his mind. Sure, a president can and should be moved by the plight of individual citizens, but power and excessive emotion can be a volatile mixture.
"Bush may eventually pay a political price for his reluctance to preen before the cameras at the slightest provocation. But there is something to be said for a president whose goal is to be liked and respected rather than one who psychologically needs the rapturous clamor of adoring crowds."

It pays to guard Ventura
The State Patrol troopers who provide 24-hour-a-day security for Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura and his family make so much overtime that some of them almost double their salaries, earning nearly as much as the man they are sworn to protect, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis reports.
The 13 troopers in the executive protection unit travel with the governor and provide protection at Mr. Venturas ranch in Maple Grove, Minn., and at the official residence in St. Paul, racking up overtime at a colossal rate.
Cpl. Dennis Adrian, one of four troopers assigned to the official residence, more than doubled his regular salary of $50,982 last year, making $106,748. Cpl. Adrian averaged more than 33 hours of overtime a week throughout the year.
Cpl. Ron Quittem, one of the governors two regular drivers and security escorts, added $47,644 of overtime to his base pay of $55,055 in 2000, taking home $102,699. Cpl. Quittem averaged more than 30 hours of overtime a week in 2000.
In the first 14 months of his term, Mr. Ventura and his office were the target of 30 threats, compared with 19 threats against Gov. Arne Carlson and his office in the three previous years, 1996 to 1998, according to security reports.

Not in your back yard
"Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley of Nevada is trying out a new weapon in her fight to keep her state from becoming the nations nuclear-waste dumping ground," National Journal reports.
"Hoping to whip up national fretting about the dangers of shipping radioactive waste, Berkley is circulating a list of 353 congressional districts that the material (depending on its source) could travel through on its way to Nevada," the magazine said.
"Berkley says shes just trying to warn everyone 'that this toxic waste could be coming right through their back yards. Currently, the nuclear power industry is storing 40,000 tons of radioactive waste at 65 generating plants across the country, pending completion of a permanent storage facility at Nevadas Yucca Mountain."

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