- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Clinton and the IRS

Judicial Watch yesterday filed a civil rights lawsuit accusing Bill Clinton and five top congressional Democrats of instigating a politically motivated audit of Judicial Watch by the Internal Revenue Service.

The conservative public-interest law firm said it even had proof that Mr. Clinton was personally involved in getting the IRS to start the investigation.

Documents turned over to Judicial Watch by the IRS under the Freedom of Information Act included a copy of an e-mail to President Clinton at the White House that stated: "I have received solicitation for funds and a questionnaire from Larry Klayman, of Judicial Watch. They have targeted you and the Vice President. My question is how can this obviously partisan organization be classified as tax-exempt under 501(C)(3). I think you and your wife have done a great job in spite of the partisan attacks against both of you."

Judicial Watch, in a prepared statement, said: "The IRS documents show the e-mail, which was sent to the IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti's office by President Clinton, was received by the IRS on or about September 22, 1998. Judicial Watch's first audit notice was dated two weeks later, on October 6, 1998. It is illegal and criminal for the President to directly or indirectly request an IRS audit of any taxpayer. Separately, Judicial Watch had been told by an IRS official that an audit was to be expected for suing President Clinton."

Reps. Charles B. Rangel of New York, Martin Frost of Texas, James P. Moran of Virginia and John Lewis of Georgia, as well as Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, also were accused of starting "a widespread campaign to illegally pressure the IRS to audit Judicial Watch." All are Democrats.

The lawsuit will be heard by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The lawsuit charges the lawmakers of conspiring to violate Judicial Watch's First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights.

Speaking of scandals

"AFL-CIO chief John Sweeney is having a high old time with business scandals, condemning 'corporate greed' and capitalist 'thieves.' Yet his acute moral antennae have somehow missed the shenanigans at Union Labor Life Insurance Co., or Ullico, a labor-owned insurance company that looks like Big Labor's Enron," the Wall Street Journal says.

"Last week, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation asked the National Labor Relations Board to investigate if Ullico's board members all top union officials profited at the expense of rank-and-file union members in a dubious stock-selling scheme. A federal grand jury and the Labor Department are also probing those stock transactions," the newspaper said in an editorial.

The newspaper added: "As long as we're talking about blind eyes, we might also mention the quiet in Congress. Perhaps it's a coincidence that Ullico is a big political donor, especially to Democrats, and that Ted Kennedy, who runs the Senate labor committee, was also an Ullico donee his last re-election.

"More alarming is the fact that Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin is insisting on language in an appropriations bill that would block greater public disclosure by unions. In the wake of the Ullico fiasco, that's a scandal in its own right."

Not newsworthy

"If a Republican wins the endorsement of a large Latino organization, doesn't that qualify as news? Not in California. As of Monday, no major California paper had reported that Bill Simon won the endorsement of 22 of the 32 chapters of the Mexican American Political Association," George Neumayr writes at www.americanprowler.org.

"Also newsworthy but ignored was that aides to Gray Davis tried to scuttle these chapters' endorsement of Simon by tweaking MAPA's convention rules. But that didn't work, so they unsuccessfully attempted to cancel its convention," Mr. Neumayr said.

"The California media hammer Simon for his poor campaigning. But once he displays some effective campaigning, their coverage dries up. To the extent that they have reported on Simon's Hispanic outreach, they have assumed a cynical, you-can't-fool-us air.

"The rare times they do deign to report good news about the Simon campaign, it is invariably filtered through the prism that Simon still can't win. Watch this week as they turn George Bush's campaigning for Simon into a story about the perils of the president appearing in the company of a flagging, tainted candidate."

Mission from God

"Well, well, well. Carl McCall, the likely Democratic gubernatorial nominee in New York, has let it all hang out, religiously," Jay Nordlinger writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

"In a church the other day, he 'shed his usual reserve and turned to the story of Moses to explain why he is running for governor.' Those are the words of a New York Times report and if McCall is 'reserved,' he is one of the few New York politicians or politicians anywhere to be so," Mr. Nordlinger said.

"Continued this report, '[McCall] told how God called Moses to abandon his comfortable shepherd's life to do something seemingly impossible to lead the Jews to freedom. Then Mr. McCall suggested a parallel in his own bid to become the first black governor of the state, after nearly eight years as the state comptroller.'"

"What McCall said was, 'When the Lord calls us to do something important, when the Lord calls us to do something that's never been done before, the Lord assures us He will be with us. So I feel that the Lord has called me. The Lord has called me to provide the leadership and the direction and the vision that New York State needs.'

"A couple of quick and obvious points," Mr. Nordlinger said. "When a politician tells you he's on a mission from God, watch out. That sort of messianism is dangerous in politics. Every now and then a Lincoln as the Civil War brews fine. But a New York gubernatorial contest in 2002? Gimme a break.

"Second, if another politician one not a black Democrat, for starters had talked this way, the media establishment would be going nuts. Stark-raving bonkers.

"And they wouldn't be entirely wrong."

No special election

A federal judge has denied an ACLU request for a special election to replace ousted Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., Ohio Democrat.

U.S. District Judge Edmund Sargus noted that Congress is scheduled to recess Oct. 3 and there was a strong likelihood that an individual selected by voters in a special election would never cast a vote, the Associated Press reports.

The judge also said state officials, and particularly Gov. Bob Taft, did not abuse their discretion in deciding against a special election.

After the ruling, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a notice of appeal.

"This decision confuses the issue of when to hold an election with whether to hold an election," Raymond Vasvari, the ACLU's legal director, said Monday.

The ACLU had sued to force Mr. Taft to hold the election, which the governor estimated would cost $800,000. Mr. Taft, a Republican, said that replacing Traficant, a Democrat, for what could only be a few weeks was not worth the expense or the voter confusion it might cause.

The House kicked Traficant out of Congress for his conviction in April on federal charges of bribery and other crimes.

Faircloth's riposte

Former Sen. Lauch Faircloth, North Carolina Republican, fired back yesterday at a spokesman for U.S. Senate candidate Erskine Bowles, a Democrat. The spokesman, Brad Woodhouse, on Sunday referred to Republican candidate Elizabeth Dole as "Lauch Faircloth in a skirt."

"When the Bowles campaign stops calling Mrs. Dole 'Lauch Faircloth in a skirt,' I'll stop calling Erskine Bowles 'Hillary Clinton in a pantsuit,'" Mr. Faircloth said.

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