- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 31, 2001


Ralph Nader, the Green Party presidential candidate last year, has been blackballed by liberals on Capitol Hill, USA Today reports.
"We're not going to touch him with a 10-foot pole," Rep. Robert Wexler, Florida Democrat, told reporter Tom Squitieri. He and other liberal Democrats blame Mr. Nader's campaign for draining away votes from Democratic presidential loser Al Gore.
"Who's going to work with him now?" said Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat.
Mr. Nader, who was barred from testifying against Attorney General-designate John Ashcroft, thinks Democrats will come crawling back.
"What are they going to say, 'We don't want your help?' Is the Democratic Party, in its latter stages of decay, now one for masochism?" Mr. Nader asked.

The Leahy connection

The Landmark Legal Foundation has asked Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, to explain what role, if any, he and Democratic Senate staffers played in possibly illegal lobbying efforts against Attorney General-designate John Ashcroft by nonprofit or government-subsidized groups.
Government-funded or tax-exempt nonprofit groups are not allowed to engage in lobbying.
"According to a published report, staffers working for leading Senate Democrats, as well as the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, secretly met with over 200 national organizations opposed to the nomination of former Senator John Ashcroft for attorney general of the United States. Among other things, the group established a lobbying committee," Marc Levin, Landmark president, wrote in a letter sent to Mr. Leahy yesterday.
"At the time of the Ashcroft hearings, you served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Therefore, we ask you whether the Senate staffers present at the meeting were aware that the nonprofit organizations were preparing to lobby senators, and whether they did so with your knowledge."
The letter, which was forwarded to the Internal Revenue Service and the Senate ethics committee, asks Mr. Leahy to identify the role of congressional staffers in the meeting, and whether they attended at Mr. Leahy's direction.
It also asked whether the staffers consulted with the groups about lobbying and whether the staffers attempted to determine whether this was in violation of federal lobbying restrictions.
Eighteen taxpayer-funded groups were believed to be involved in the anti-Ashcroft lobbying, including the American Bar Association, the NAACP, Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club.

No electioneering here

New York Gov. George E. Pataki got in an unofficial early dig at Andrew M. Cuomo.

When asked to comment on the Clinton administration housing secretary's candidacy for New York governor in 2002, Mr. Pataki yesterday declined to comment.

He explained his denial to the Associated Press in terms of not liking "the concept of a perpetual campaign. There will be plenty of time for electioneering."

Mr. Cuomo announced his plans at a star-studded party in New York City on Monday.

Mr. Pataki has said he will likely run for a third term. In 1994, Mr. Pataki defeated Mr. Cuomo's father, Mario Cuomo, who was seeking a fourth term.

Polls show Mr. Pataki ahead of the younger Mr. Cuomo.

A modest proposal

Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman, writing in the American Prospect, called on Senate Democrats to refuse to accept anyone nominated for the Supreme Court by President Bush.
Mr. Ackerman said Mr. Bush is an illegitimate president, and that he should not be allowed "to serve as the court's agent" by appointing more conservatives, such as the ones who ruled in the Republican's favor in the Florida recount controversy.
"There is precedent for my proposal. When President Lincoln was assassinated, he was replaced by Andrew Johnson, who threatened to nominate justices who would consolidate the conservative wing of the court. The Reconstruction Congress responded with a statute providing that retiring justices could not be replaced. By the time Johnson left the White House in 1869, the court was reduced to seven members. After the election, Congress returned the court's size to nine, giving Ulysses S. Grant the power to fill vacancies that it had denied his predecessor… ."
Rather than passing a statute, 40 of today's senators "should simply make it plain that they will block all Supreme Court nominations until the next presidential election," Mr. Ackerman said.

The Bush honeymoon

"The administration of George W. Bush is only in its second week, but all the political harmony in Washington is so unnatural as to be disconcerting," Wall Street Journal columnist George Melloan writes.
"Even the New York Times has overcome its reluctance to admit that Bush is a legitimate president and was marveling Sunday on what a smooth transition the Bushites were conducting. No doubt things would have been even smoother for transition manager Dick Cheney if Al Gore's staffers hadn't trashed the vice-presidential offices Mr. Cheney was preparing to occupy. But kids will be kids," Mr. Melloan wrote.
"The honeymoon won't last, of course. The docility of the Democrats has been prompted in part by fears that the only legacy left behind by the Clinton presidency was a collapsing economy. They would have had to worry less if Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore had boasted far less that this was an economy they themselves had 'grown.' But the now-departed chief exec and veep were merely behaving like politicians.
"Don't tell the amiable Democrats this, but their worst fears may not be justified. Even if they are, Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore deserve only a part of the blame, just as they deserve only a modicum of credit for the economic surge they claimed as their handiwork when the 20th century was going out like a lion… .
"Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore, held in check by Congress, were not able to contribute much to the debacle. That's if you don't count the not-inconsiderable regulatory mischief they inflicted before making their rather ungracious departures. Or their resistance to tax-cut proposals that, if enacted a year ago, might have headed off the current slowdown. It's a bit early to grant them absolution, particularly with regard to energy policy, but a little generosity never hurts."

No religious test

Fifty-two members of the Georgia General Assembly signed a resolution yesterday urging members of the Georgia congressional delegation to "repudiate the unconstitutional religious test applied to John Ashcroft in confirmation hearings before the United States Senate."
The resolution added that "some members of Congress have attempted to establish a religious test, explaining that, because of his religion, John Ashcroft would be unable to serve as an enforcer of our laws."

No pick of cellmates

Louisiana's ex-governor won't get to be with his son in jail.

Federal officials have denied Edwin Edwards' request to serve his federal sentence in the same prison as his son, Stephen, a lawyer said last night.

Richard Crane, an attorney for the elder Edwards, told the Associated Press the federal Bureau of Prisons office in Dallas denied the request without explanation in a letter received yesterday.

"It's terrible," Mr. Crane said. "It's like saying you're going to go to trial tomorrow, but you say, 'Well, what are the charges?' and they say, 'We're not going to tell you.' It could be anything."

A Bureau of Prisons official said it is customary to deny a prison-change request without providing a reason and said the office does not comment on prisoners who have not yet reported.

The Edwardses were convicted of rigging the riverboat-casino licensing process before and after Edwards' fourth term in office.

The former governor received 10 years in prison; his son, seven years. Both men must report to prison Feb. 5.

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