- The Washington Times - Friday, July 12, 2002

About that grade

The NAACP trotted out a "nonpartisan" report card on election reform this week at its annual convention in Houston. The report grades each state is on progress toward the NAACP's idea of election reform. Among these "reforms" are the purchase of new voting machines, an effort to restore voting rights to ex-felons and a minimum of a 10 percent increase in spending for voter registration and education programs.

To ensure its nonpartisanship, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People commissioned an outside firm to compile this report.

Their choice? Robinson and Foster, a Washington, D.C., company with deep liberal ties that include a co-owner who is a former legislative aide for U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat.

The group has also worked with the ACLU, the Sentencing Project and the American Bar Association.

The company gave several states, including Texas, an "F" on its report card.

When reporters asked about Texas' rating, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume informed them sadly that the state had failed to return the questionnaire it was sent some time ago.

It appears Mr. Mfume was wrong.

Reporter Steve Miller of The Washington Times obtained a copy of the response from the Texas governor's office. And when the reporter asked the NAACP to explain the discrepancy between Mr. Mfume's words and the completed questionnaire from the Texas governor's office, a spokesman quickly noted that "Robinson and Foster did the study, not us."

But Alexander Robinson and Tyler Green, who were proudly attending the convention for the firm, looked at Texas' completed questionnaire as if it were a prehistoric relic.

"I've never seen this before," Mr. Green said, adding: "They could have typed this all up and sent it out in the last couple of days."

Mr. Robinson said the information on the election-reform report was "as complete as we could make it."

'Hate campaign'

One of the subjects on Chris Matthews' CNBC "Hardball" program Tuesday night was the tax-exempt status of the NAACP, including a debate between black conservative commentator Armstrong Williams and Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, the Texas Democrat who attended the first two days of the annual NAACP convention in Houston this week.

Mr. Williams was adamant that the NAACP be stripped of its tax-exempt status because of its relentless Republican-bashing, which seems to become more vociferous each year.

Mrs. Jackson-Lee, though, said the group was simply asserting "a right to free speech."

"They have a right to speak to their issues. [The NAACP] is nonpartisan," she said.

One of the requirements for tax-exempt status is that a group must refrain from endorsing legislation. The NAACP says it satisfies that requirement and that what might appear to others to be a legislative agenda was nothing more than a way of "informing" its 500,000 members.

Mr. Williams said the liberal group was "being pimped" by the Democratic Party.

"This convention is a hate campaign against President Bush," Mr. Williams said.

"I would not participate if it were," Mrs. Jackson-Lee said.

In his keynote address Sunday, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond asserted that President Bush "owes his election more to a dynasty than to democracy. "

"We knew he was in the oil business. We just didn't know it was snake oil," he said.

How cozy

"There's a distinct whiff of hypocrisy about the Democratic bid with Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle heading the charge to paint Bush & Co. as too "cozy" with big business to really crack down on crooked CEOs," the New York Post's Deborah Orin writes.

"It smells of hypocrisy because Daschle is pretty cozy with big business himself since it's a major source of his family income. His wife, Linda, is one of Washington's premier lobbyists," Miss Orin said.

"But you can fuhgeddaboutit if you want to know how much money the Daschles rake in from her lobbying as a co-chair of the 'public policy group' at the law/lobbying firm Baker, Donelson, Bearman & Caldwell," the columnist said, noting that Mr. Daschle has demanded that President Bush release every document relating to a 1990 stock sale to, as the senator put it, "just let everybody see what is there."

"But unlike lots of senators not to mention presidents like Bush Daschle refuses to release his own tax returns, which would 'just let everybody see' what his wife makes as a big-business lobbyist" for American Airlines, the American Trucking Association, American Concrete and Pavement Association, Boeing, Loral Space and Communications, Northwest Airlines, L-3 Communications, Intellicheck, Schering-Plough, United Technologies Corp. "and more than a dozen more," Miss Orin said.

NPR apologizes

National Public Radio president and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Klose apologized Wednesday to a conservative Christian group for a news story mentioning the group in connection with the anthrax investigation, Variety reports.

The apology came during a House hearing on public broadcasting, with one Republican member after another accusing NPR of having a liberal bias. They said such leanings were evidenced in the Jan. 22 "Morning Edition" story that involved the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC).

The coalition's executive director, Andrea Lafferty, testified that an NPR reporter called her in January to ask if the coalition was being investigated for the anthrax mailings to two Democratic senators, whom the coalition had earlier singled out for criticism on a different topic. Despite her denials, the story aired.

"Ms. Lafferty and TVC, you have my personal and professional apology. I'm sorry about our mistake, and I hope we can move forward from here," Mr. Klose said.

Gov. Guinn's diagnosis

Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn announced yesterday that he has been diagnosed with early prostate cancer but said his doctors assured him it will not affect his work or his campaign for re-election this fall.

"My wife and I are just not worried about this at all," the 65-year-old Republican said.

Mr. Guinn is heavily favored for a second, four-year term against Democratic state Sen. Joe Neal of Las Vegas, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Guinn said that the cancer was detected after routine blood tests and a biopsy. He said he was in no hurry to choose a course of treatment and would take several months to decide.

Election-law auction

A 72-acre Lakeville, Mass., property was auctioned Wednesday evening for $2.4 million to fund the campaigns of candidates who have qualified for public money under the state's campaign-finance law.

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Judicial Court rejected an effort by Lakeville officials to block the sale of the former state hospital site.

The sale price fell short of the $2.6 million owed to nine candidates, and far less than the $24 million that Lakeville officials said the property is worth. National Development, a commercial development company in Newton, was the highest bidder.

"We expected to get about what we got," said Pam Wilmot, acting director of Common Cause of Massachusetts. "Unless the legislature changes its mind, there will have to be more auctions."

Still up there

The latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted Friday through Monday but before President Bush's Tuesday morning speech on corporate responsibility, shows Mr. Bush with a 76 percent job-approval rating, marking a 10-month period during which his ratings have been at 70 percent or higher.

The last president to sustain such high ratings for this long was Lyndon B. Johnson in 1963 and 1964. Presidents have averaged in the 50 percent range over the last 50 years.

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