- The Washington Times - Friday, May 4, 2001

Congresswoman reacts
Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Ohio Democrat, takes exception to this columns "mischaracterization" of her actions and demeanor.
We wrote that the congresswoman all but crucified Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez at a recent hearing of the housing subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee.
But to present the most accurate portrayal of Mrs. Jones "tirade" against the secretary — the likes of which subcommittee Chairman Rep. Marge Roukema, New Jersey Republican, "never, ever, in my 20 years on this committee heard" — we took the unusual step of devoting almost the entire column to print key excerpts of the hearings transcript.
In doing so, Mrs. Jones now writes in a three-page letter, "you inadvertently left out my apology to Secretary Martinez."
In fact, in her closing remarks, Mrs. Jones told the Cabinet official "if you think I (showed you disrespect) please forgive me, but … I need the questions answered for my constituents and my colleagues."
Yet in her letter, Mrs. Jones writes that "throughout the hearing, Secretary Martinez — though affable and friendly — skirted (the) issues with great skill," and, she says, after her turn came to question him, he "continued to attempt to evade and downplay my concerns."
"When Secretary Martinez continued to refuse to give substantive answers to my questions, I became very firm and insisted upon responses. I was forceful," she acknowledges, although she disputes engaging in a "tirade."
"You may call such dedication a 'tirade. Others call it passion," she says. "I simply call it my job."

Choice reporters

Ignoring Dan Rathers lesson of late to steer clear of political forays, a few prominent Washington reporters and editors are participating in a fund-raiser next month for pro-choice women candidates.
Eleanor Clift of Newsweek, Margaret Carlson of Time, and Helen Thomas, who recently left United Press International, are three journalists among the "mix of celebrities" participating in one of nine simultaneous sit-down dinners in private homes around Washington to benefit the Womens Campaign Fund, the nations oldest political action committee supporting pro-choice women candidates.
For example, one dinner for 40 guests will be held on June 7 at the Georgetown mansion of Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat. Others opening their homes include Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, Louisiana Democrat, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat.
Ms. Carlson was on vacation yesterday, but Ms. Clift told Inside the Beltway she has "attended these dinners for years," and there is no conflict because writing about abortion "is not my role" for Newsweek.
Asked whether Newsweek might have a problem with her participating in a pro-choice fund-raiser, Ms. Clift replied: "Im a contributing editor, and my opinions are what they pay for, so there is no conflict."

Less pro-life

Since the 2000 presidential election, interest groups have plastered the airwaves with tens of millions of dollars in new political ads. And its not the environment, taxes or campaign finance dominating those television messages. Its abortion.
Of the nearly $28 million spent on political issue advertising in televisions top 100 media markets in the first four months of this year, the debate over abortion accounted for nearly one-third.
The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) spent $7.5 million dollars, with Planned Parenthood adding another half-million. Anti-abortion forces spent less than $20,000 during the same period, according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison study.

Disaster all right

Sen. Fred Thompson, Tennessee Republican, introduced into the record of his Senate Governmental Affairs Committee yesterday a statement from a poll inspector in Escambia County, Floridas Precinct 8. It displayed the impact that five of the major news networks had in announcing that Florida polls had closed, when in fact there was still a full hour of voting remaining in the Florida panhandle.
CBS alone made at least 13 explicit statements during the hour that Florida polls had closed, according to yesterdays testimony — 18 in all, if the statements calling Florida for Al Gore are included.
The poll inspectors statement:
"On Tuesday, November 7, 2000, I was on duty and worked at the precinct from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. for the general election. We had the usual rush in the early morning, at noon and right after work. There was a significant drop in voters after 6. The last 40 minutes was almost empty. The poll workers were wondering if there had been a national disaster they didnt know about."


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