- The Washington Times - Friday, December 14, 2001

DNC loses again

The Democratic National Committee yesterday lost its second bid to make up for slow fund raising since September 11 through an exemption to campaign finance laws.

The DNC canceled several fund-raisers after the terrorist attacks, leaving it with a shortage of "soft money" large, unregulated contributions. It requested a waiver of campaign regulations to have more time to raise the money, which by arcane election rules it could then convert to pay for expenses usually paid for with "hard money" the smaller, regulated donations.

By a 4-2 vote, the Federal Election Commission rejected the DNC's interpretation that existing law would allow the transfer. Two weeks ago the DNC lost its first bid, on a 3-3 vote, when it asked for a one-time waiver of the regulation.

DNC spokeswoman Maria Cardona said when they lost the first go-around they didn't have much hope for yesterday. "We never expected for it to come up our way again," she said.

But with Democrats generally backing a ban on soft money, the committee took a public relations hit for its request.

"It was crass of the DNC to use the terrorist attacks for leverage in trying to make bad soft money rules even worse," said Scott Harshbarger, president of campaign watchdog group Common Cause, in a statement yesterday. "We're glad the commission has rebuffed this request."

One more chance

Oklahoma first lady Cathy Keating, who was trounced this week in the Republican primary to succeed Republican Rep. Steve Largent, hopes to recover in the Jan. 8 runoff against state Rep. John Sullivan.

Mr. Sullivan took 46 percent of the vote, 15 percentage points more than Mrs. Keating.

State Sen. Scott Pruitt came in third, with 23 percent, while two other Republican candidates got 1 percent each.

Since Mr. Sullivan failed to win an outright majority, Mrs. Keating who had been the overwhelming favorite has one more chance.

"Well, we expected a runoff, and I guess we got one," Keating spokesman Rick Carpenter told Roll Call. "We're going to be doing exactly what we expected, just not from the position from which we were expecting to do it."

Said Mr. Sullivan: "I'm shocked, I really am. We got broad, broad support. It was everywhere. I even beat her in the precinct she voted in."

Mr. Largent resigned his House seat in order to run for governor.

Whoever wins the runoff will take on Democrat Doug Dodd, a lawyer and Tulsa school board member, in the Feb. 12 election in the heavily Republican district.

Show him the door

"The White House may not see Peter Kirsanow formally take his seat on the U.S. Commission for Civil Rights until the courts slap down chairwoman Mary Frances Berry's illegal attempt to keep him from it. Yet there's plenty President Bush can do in the meantime to assume greater control of the commission, as is his right by virtue of the office he holds. He should start by firing staff director Les Jin," John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru write at www.nationalreview.com.

"Jin runs the day-to-day operations of the commission. He should be removed from the position if only because he's a holdover from the Clinton administration, having been appointed to the post in September 2000. Bush deserves to have his own person in this important slot, as does any president. When President Clinton came into office in 1993, the first Bush administration's staff director, Willie Gonzalez, was shown the door almost immediately. This was Clinton's right," the writers said.

"The case for replacing Jin goes beyond his being a holdover. He's a shameless hack for Berry. He is afraid to challenge her, even when she behaves lawlessly, as in the current dispute over the commission's makeup. He also refuses to work with the commission's GOP-appointed members. He doesn't let them participate in selecting witnesses to appear at commission hearings, he won't take their names off press releases when they disagree with their content, and he was instrumental in the suppression of the dissent written by commissioners Abigail Thernstrom and Russell Redenbaugh in response to the commission's scandalously bad report on the presidential election in Florida. There are also questions about his handling of the commission's budget.

"A new staff director at the civil rights commission would have to be approved by a majority of the commissioners, and no person named to the post is likely survive such a vote as long as Berry keeps rightful commissioners, such as Kirsanow, from assuming their duties. But Bush can appoint an acting staff director and deprive Berry of a vital bureaucratic tool in her guerrilla war against his very legitimacy as president."

Jeffords jilted

"Half a year ago, the most urgent question in Washington was, 'Why did Jim Jeffords quit the Republican Party and flip the Senate to the Democrats?'" Timothy Noah writes at slate.msn.com.

"Jeffords had remained a liberal Republican for several decades past the point of that species' virtual extinction. Why become an independent now? Six months later, he's finally explaining why. Only now, of course, nobody is very interested because Dr. Political Gossip has become Dr. Win-the-War. As a result, [Wednesdays] press accounts reporting that a House-Senate conference committee finally hammered out a compromise on Dubya's 'leave no child behind' education bill largely missed out on a significant irony: The Democratic Senate proved no better than the Republican one at satisfying Jeffords on the very issue that made him walk," Mr. Noah said.

"In a new book, 'My Declaration of Independence,' Jeffords portrays as the precipitating event of his Republican departure the Senate Republicans' refusal to fund fully the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which Jeffords had helped pass as a House member back in 1975. 'I decided to winnow down my list of spending priorities to this one,' Jeffords writes. 'It seemed to me the most fruitful avenue, in part because it was the most Republican.'"

When Republicans balked, Mr. Jeffords quit the party. As it turns out, Democrats were unable to win support for Mr. Jeffords' pet project and the Vermont independent now plans to vote against the education bill.

A surprise?

"Georgia Republican Bob Irvin's campaign for U.S. Senate may be starting to pick up steam," United Press International reports in its "Capital Comment" column.

"As the minority leader of the statehouse, Irvin has been endorsed for the nomination by more than 60 of his 74 GOP colleagues. His principal primary opponent, Rep. Saxby Chambliss, is still reeling from anti-Muslim comments he made in a public forum with Georgia business leaders in the aftermath of September 11. Irvin, an Atlanta-area resident, has a reputation as a hard-worker and party-builder while Chambliss hails from a more rural part of the state and does not enjoy the reputation of being a team player. This race could end up surprising a number of people," UPI said.

NBC's consumer pal

"For the second time, NBC's 'Today' has picked a liberal product regulator for a Democratic president as its consumer reporter," the Media Research Center's Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org.

"USA Today reported on Tuesday that Ann Brown, Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission for the Clinton administration, has joined the Today reporting team just months after she ended exclusive appearances on the show to promote herself and her regulatory agenda, exclusive appearances which ABC and CBS considered improper," Mr. Baker noted.

"Brown follows in the footsteps of the late Betty Furness, who left NBC in 1992 after 16 years. Before the CPSC was created, she filled a similar role for President Johnson as Special Assistant to the President for consumer affairs."

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