- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 21, 2001

How reassuring

Michigan Rep. John Conyers Jr., the leader of House Democrats who demand that the federal government impose voting-rights standards on the states, says their stance has nothing to do with politics.

"This is not a Democratic response to the theft of Gore's victory," Mr. Conyers told the New York Times. "Preventing spoiled ballots is not a political issue."

Daley for governor?

William Daley, who served as commerce secretary in the Clinton administration and as presidential campaign manager for Al Gore, is seriously considering a run for governor of Illinois.

In fact, Time magazine reports that Mr. Daley, son of legendary Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley and brother of the current mayor, Richard M. Daley, is "99 percent likely" to seek the job. The magazine attributed the quote to an anonymous "insider."

Illinois House Speaker Richard Madigan, who is also Democratic state party chairman, told the Chicago Tribune that he would welcome a Daley candidacy.

"He would make a very good candidate. He would hit the ground running because he has a political apparatus in place. He wouldn't have to spend a penny on name recognition," Mr. Madigan said.

Wild, wild West

A gun-rights group is calling for protests over a Secret Service demand that no one be allowed to carry a gun during Vice President Richard B. Cheney's appearance Saturday at the Utah state Republican convention in Salt Lake City.

The Utah Gun Owners Alliance planned protests and is demanding an apology from Mr. Cheney, the event's scheduled keynote speaker, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

"Self-defense is a right," the Utah Gun Owners Alliance said Sunday on a new posting on its Web site. "Do you want to be taken for granted and treated like a criminal by Bush and Cheney? No? Then you need to do something to stop Republican gun bans."

Gun-rights activists are complaining that the Secret Service-ordered gun ban for Mr. Cheney's visit is a slap in the face. They argue that the restriction violates a Utah state law that grants nearly unlimited access to residents with concealed-carry licenses.

State Republican Director Scott Parker said the gun restrictions will be lifted after Mr. Cheney leaves the building, allowing those who wish to retrieve legally concealed weapons from their vehicles to do so in time for voting on party officers.

'Awkward position'

"Republicans have a golden opportunity to expose an apparent contradiction across the aisle on a pair of issues involving Mexico: The Democrats' desire to let in illegal aliens from that country, but ban its truck drivers carrying goods bound for U.S. consumers," John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru write at nationalreview.com.

"To borrow from a vocabulary originally developed by liberals, these stances have Democrats favoring undocumented workers over documented ones," the writers said.

"The proposed amnesty of illegal aliens would affect some 3 million Mexicans now living in the United States in violation of our immigration laws. The Bush administration is flirting with the idea, partly in the hope that it would draw Hispanic voters to the Republican Party. Democrats, however, have consistently outbid the GOP on the issue by calling for amnesties that are much broader than what Bush or Congressional Republicans are likely to accept.

"At the same time, Democrats are the main force behind bills passed this summer in the House and Senate that would block Mexico's long-haul trucks from U.S. highways. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexican truck drivers are supposed to gain the same full access to our interstates as Canadian drivers now enjoy. But Teamster union bosses have put together an effective public-relations campaign highlighting safety concerns. The data don't back up their claims (there is no valid evidence showing that long-haul Mexican trucks are less safe than American ones), but they have carried the day so far.

"It makes one wonder what Democrats would do if confronted by a Mexican truck carrying illegal aliens: Let them in or keep it out? The party's positions on these linked issues put them in an awkward position. At the very least, they should be required to explain with more clarity why they prefer granting green cards to law-breaking aliens from Mexico to permitting the legal entry of its qualified truck drivers."

Mayor admits violation

Providence, R.I., Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci has admitted his campaign violated Rhode Island campaign-finance laws when he used nearly $7,500 of donations for his grandchildren's birthday parties and Christmas celebrations in 1998 and 1999.

Mr. Cianci, the city's longest-serving mayor, signed a consent order made public late Friday that requires him to make full restitution to the campaign fund. In addition, the campaign committee was fined more than $22,000, triple the amount of the expenditure, to be paid within 90 days, Reuters reports.

The mayor's campaign committee has raised nearly $6 million since the 1990 mayoral race. The $7,500 "accounts for approximately one-tenth of 1 percent of our total expenses," said Mr. Cianci, who remains popular despite also being indicted on graft charges earlier this year in a federal investigation.

"I will strive for perfection in the future. I suspect that no other person in public office has received such a rigorous review and achieved this level of compliance," he said in a statement.

Mr. Cianci has been the subject of a federal investigation, known as Operation Plunder Dome. In April, the mayor of Rhode Island's capital city was indicted on federal charges of racketeering, conspiracy, extortion, witness tampering and mail fraud. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

If convicted on all counts, Mr. Cianci faces more than 100 years in prison and up to $2.5 million in fines. He is free on $50,000 bail, but restricted to traveling in Rhode Island and neighboring Massachusetts unless on official business.

Mr. Cianci served as mayor from 1974 to 1984, but resigned after being convicted of assault. He admitted to beating a man who was having an affair with his then-wife. After a brief jail term, Mr. Cianci ran for mayor again in 1990 and was re-elected.

Sharpton's tour

The Rev. Al Sharpton kicked off a possible bid for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination yesterday, saying he plans to tour the United States this fall while a committee explores his chances.

The black minister said his potential candidacy was aimed at stopping what he said was the Democratic Party's shift toward centrist policies at the expense of black and progressive issues, Reuters reports.

"If we can find a feasible and durable way, we intend to challenge the drift in the Democratic Party toward abandoning the base that has been loyal to it," Mr. Sharpton, 46, said at a news conference in New York City.

His exploratory committee will convene this fall under Harvard University professor Cornel West.

Mr. Sharpton said he planned to visit 10 cities next month, though he declined to name them. His "Freedom Ride" bus tour of the country will start in October in New Hampshire, where the nation's first presidential primary takes place.

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