- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 21, 2001

The 'grifters'

The Clintons "belong to no place," writes Hamilton Jordan, who was chief of staff to President Carter.

"Arkansas was just a starting point for Bill Clinton and a place Hillary had to tolerate while nurturing national ambitions. It was their home for a quarter-century, the birthplace of their only child and their political base, but they left the state behind in favor of New York City, a place that can match the scale of their own egos, appetites and ambitions," Mr. Jordan said in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

"They have never looked back. One talking head recently called the Clintons 'political drifters,' but Webster's defines drifters as people who move around 'aimlessly.' There was never anything aimless about the Clintons' wanderings: Little Rock, Yale, Oxford, Little Rock, Washington, Chappaqua and now New York City. Every move was calculated, part of their grand scheme to claw their way to the top.

"When one considers pardons for political friends and donors, gifts to the White House taken by the Clintons for their personal use, and the attempt to lease extravagant penthouse offices for the former president with taxpayer money, a better word comes to mind: grifters.

"Grifters was a term used in the Great Depression to describe fast-talking con artists who roamed the countryside, profiting at the expense of the poor and the uneducated, always one step ahead of the law, moving on before they were held accountable for their schemes and half-truths."

Clintons' decorating

"Hillary and Bill Clinton have shipped 70 museum pieces, donated to the White House by prominent American craft artists, to the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark.," Dick Morris reports in the New York Post.

"There, they will presumably use them to decorate the president's 5,000-square-foot penthouse apartment or other parts of the planned library even though the artists who gave them had been assured that their works would be 'displayed in a prominent location in the White House at events through the years.'

"Apparently not content with trying to furnish their Chappaqua home with stolen White House furniture, the Clintons are now planning to use these objects, originally solicited to constitute the 'first permanent White House American Crafts Collection,' to decorate the Clinton library and apartment," Mr. Morris said.

Official pleads guilty

The former Democratic Party chairman of Rockland County, N.Y., pleaded guilty yesterday to taking bribes in exchange for influencing a zoning board to approve a residential real-estate project.

Paul Adler, 42, who hosted a fund-raiser for Hillary Rodham Clinton's U.S. Senate campaign and was once an overnight guest at the White House, pleaded guilty in White Plains federal court to a two-count complaint charging him with mail and tax fraud, Reuters reports.

Under the plea agreement he signed with the government, he faces 18 to 24 months in prison for both counts.

One of the counts accused Adler of taking bribes in 1997, 1998 and 1999 to use his political influence to obtain approval from a local planning board for a single-family home subdivision in Rockland County, which borders New Jersey.

The other count accused Adler with intentionally understating his income in 1996 and 1997, and taking several improper charitable and business deductions in 1996 and 1997.

Per diem plan dies

A proposal to give House members up to $25,000 a year for a per diem allowance has been dropped after failing to win the endorsement of either Republican or Democratic leaders.

"I accept that, that ends it," said Rep. Bob Ney, Ohio Republican, chairman of the House Administration Committee and a supporter of the allowance. He said he had not gained the agreement of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, or Democratic leader Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri.

The proposal, first reported in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, would have given members $165 a day, tax free, for expenses when Congress was in session. That would be nearly $25,000 in an average 150-day session.

Mr. Ney said his committee could have instituted the per diem without a vote of the full House because it would not require new spending.

He said the money would come out of the members' representational allowance, the $850,000 to $1 million each member receives every year for office expenses, travel and staff salaries.

He said the idea was backed by "a great quantity" of lawmakers, the Associated Press reports.

Members of Congress earn $145,100 a year.

Badge of the 'jackal'

Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura's office is now requiring reporters to request and wear media credentials when they cover the governor, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune reports.

The official press credential issued yesterday to Capitol reporters says that the bearer is an "Official Jackal," Mr. Ventura's contemptuous description of reporters.

The pass also says that the governor's office "reserves the right to revoke this credential for any reason." The credentials and the press release accompanying them do not specify under what circumstances credentials would be revoked or denied.

This is the first time in memory that a Minnesota governor has required credentials. The White House and Congress have long required reporters to have credentials.

The "jackal" reference is taken from the title of Mr. Ventura's second book, "Do I Stand Alone? Going to the Mat Against Political Pawns and Media Jackals."

Traficant's trouble

Rep. Jim A. Traficant Jr., Ohio Democrat, is the first rank-and-file congressman since Rep. Claude Swanson in 1905 to start a new session with no committee assignment, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Swanson didn't get an assignment because he had been elected governor of Virginia and was about to leave the House. Mr. Traficant doesn't have one because he defected from the Democrats in the vote for House speaker last month and has yet to either officially resign from their caucus or reach an accommodation with majority Republicans.

Republican leaders have indicated they want to reward Mr. Traficant for voting to keep House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert. In fact, a Republican seat on the Transportation Committee has been cleared for him as soon as he says he wants it.

"I'm sure we will find something for him," said Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican. "He's a member of the House and he deserves a committee assignment."

John Feehery, a spokesman for Mr. Hastert, said Republican leaders haven't heard from Mr. Traficant since his time in limbo began, and they want to know whether he's ready to declare himself just "independent" rather than the "independent Democrat" he has suggested.

House rules say committee assignments can be made only by the party caucus to which a member has declared allegiance.

There are two independent House members. Rep. Bernard Sanders of Vermont gets his committee assignments from the Democrats, while Rep. Virgil H. Goode Jr. of Virginia is aligned with the Republican caucus.

Sign of the times

Among the signs spotted outside the Oracle Appsworld Convention in New Orleans on Monday as former President Bill Clinton spoke inside: "Pardon Bill Gates, not Marc Rich."

Oracle, a strong supporter of Mr. Clinton when he was president, lobbied hard and successfully to have the Justice Department sue rival Microsoft on antitrust grounds.

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