- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 21, 2001

After carrying the increasingly hefty baggage for the scandal-tarred Clinton-Gore administration as ranking member of the House Government Reform Committee throughout the second term, Rep. Henry Waxman, California Democratic and liberal attack dog, thinks he sniffs a scent of scandal in the Bush administration. But hes barking up the wrong tree.

Mr. Waxman has written a letter to Rep. Dan Burton, the Indiana Republican who chairs the Government Reform Committee and who has been instrumental in uncovering many of the sleaziest details of the pervasive Clintonian corruption. Mr. Waxman has asked Mr. Burton to hold a congressional hearing to investigate the propriety of a March 12 meeting between Intel Corp., the large chipmaking company whose microprocessors dominate the personal computer industry, and Karl Rove, the senior political adviser to President George W. Bush.

At the time of the meeting, Mr. Rove owned Intel stock worth between $100,000 and $250,000, according to his financial disclosure form. However, far from exposing himself to repeated conflicts of interest relating to his stockholdings, as Mr. Waxman has suggested, Mr. Rove appears to have been extremely diligent in his efforts to divest his stock portfolio, which included shares in General Electric, Boeing, Pfizer, Enron and Cisco Systems. Mr. Rove would have preferred to sell his stocks before the inauguration. Indeed, altogether, Mr. Rove made more than a dozen requests of ethics lawyers, seeking advice about how to properly divest his portfolio. As it happens, however, the Office of Government Ethics instructed him not to buy or sell anything for the time being. In January, Fred Fielding, the White House transition counsel, advised Mr. Rove that, according to government ethics rules, he should defer selling his stocks until he obtained a certificate of divestiture. Such a certificate would allow him to defer payment of capital-gains taxes on shares he sold in order to avoid even an appearance of a conflict of interest.

Because the White House counsel´s office was overwhelmed by security clearances and other, frankly, more important matters, Mr. Rove did not receive his certificate of divestiture until June 6. He sold his shares the very next day. Had Mr. Rove been permitted to sell his stocks the day before the inauguration, as was his intention, it´s worth noting that he would have received $5 more per share for his Intel stock and nearly $20 more per share for Cisco and Enron, two other companies that Mr. Waxman and others have maliciously suggested may have posed a conflict of interest for Mr. Rove.

Unlike Hillary Rodham Clinton´s cattle-futures shenanigans and her Whitewater escapade or the financial antics of Ron Brown, Johnny Chung, Charlie Trie, James Riady and John Huang, to name a few Democratic political operatives up to no good Mr. Rove´s biggest "mistake" apparently was to be the innocent victim of an unavoidable delay. Mr. Waxman should put that in his pipe and smoke it.

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