- The Washington Times - Friday, March 15, 2002

'An agency in disarray'
A House Judiciary subcommittee is preparing for a hearing that will question the management of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, sources say.
Rep. Steve Chabot, the Ohio Republican who heads the subcommittee on the Constitution, has engaged in paper-slinging with the commission since early last year, exchanging contentious letters and demanding records.
Leading the list of his demands is documentation that the commission which is asking for a 66 percent budget increase for the upcoming fiscal year has taken seriously a 1997 report from the General Accounting Office that called the commission "an agency in disarray."
Mr. Chabot is also trying to find out why the commission has paid $135,000 to the public relations firm McKinney and Associates while also having its own public-affairs office, which pays three employees a total of $208,537 annually.
The inquiry also will address possible pending civil rights complaints against the commission.
Mr. Chabot, in a letter sent last week to commission staff director Les Jin, noted the image drubbing the agency has received in the last two years.
"Recurring criticism has the effect of eroding public confidence in the commission, leading many, including this subcommittee, to question its continued existence," Mr. Chabot said.
The hearing has yet to be approved by Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican, said one source close to the committee.
"We are still getting witness lists together and figuring out a date," said the source. "Then we will take it in for approval."

Liberal litmus test
Virginia Thomas, director of executive-branch relations at the Heritage Foundation and wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, penned an open letter to federal appellate court nominee Judge Charles W. Pickering Sr., anticipating his rejection yesterday on a party-line vote in the Judiciary Committee.
"You are but a pawn in a much larger battle over whether an independent judiciary will prevail, or whether a liberal judicial litmus test will transform our courts into another political branch with a liberal activist bent," Mrs. Thomas said in the letter, published yesterday on the Wall Street Journal editorial page.
"You are at the mercy of many people right now, unable to speak out for yourself. You may have thought your reputation was something valuable that you had led your life with integrity and honor and that these attributes would be appreciated. But then you offered yourself for public service.
"And so, today, you hear that you are unqualified, and that you are 'polarizing,' because you will not pledge to rule in favor of the hard left's political agenda. Instead, you believe the role of a judge is not to prejudge cases, but to fairly apply the law (not politics) to cases that may come before you in the future. Your principled view of a judge's role brands you as 'unqualified' in their results-oriented world."
Mrs. Thomas added: "You wrote a three-page law review article that made reference to interracial marriage way back in 1959, when you were a freshman in college. The People for the American Way now say they find it disturbing that you failed, then, to express adequate moral outrage over the state law banning interracial marriage. But in the 14 years of my interracial marriage, I've found many more people on the left exercised over my union (and others like it) than on the right."

Tipper to run?
Tipper Gore is weighing an overture from Democrats to run for her husband's old Senate seat from Tennessee, sources close to her told the Associated Press yesterday.
The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Democrats urged Mrs. Gore to run after Republican Sen. Fred Thompson announced last week that he would not run again.
One of the sources said Mrs. Gore believed she owed it to herself to give some thought to a run. Her husband, Al Gore, held the Senate seat from 1985 to 1993, before becoming vice president. Mr. Gore already has said he would not seek the seat.
One Democratic operative close to the Gores said Mrs. Gore had received a handful of overtures from Democrats urging her to consider running for the Senate.
However, the official said that it does not appear likely that Mrs. Gore would run, given her tendency to shrink from the limelight during the presidential campaign and her general unease about the national political process. Still, the official said, it was telling that Mrs. Gore did not reject the overtures out of hand.
A Democratic official who spoke with Mr. Gore yesterday told AP the former vice president said his wife was talking to people in Tennessee who are eager for her to run and is thinking through the possibility of a Senate campaign.
Jano Cabrera, a spokesman for the couple, said Mrs. Gore was in Los Angeles yesterday and could not be reached. Earlier, the spokesman said the Gores are house hunting in Nashville, Tenn.

Wine and cheese
The White House's advisory council on AIDS is sending out another signal that homosexuals have a leg up in the Bush administration.
Yesterday, the group, formerly known as the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, relaxed with members of AIDS Action, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and other AIDS advocacy groups. According to a memo sent to council members, a wine-and-cheese reception, held in the Indian Treaty Room of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, was arranged so that "members of the community might meet members of the Council and so that members of the Council might get better acquainted with each other." Scott Evertz, head of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, was also at the meeting. He is the former head of the Wisconsin chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, a homosexual group.
"That is lobbying," fumed a Hill staffer who sent us the memo. "These groups had the occasion created for them to influence the Council, which they paid for. That's influence peddling. Why don't they invite black women to address them? After all, AIDS is the number one killer of black women. None of the black groups got invited, nor were any of the anti-AIDS groups or the Christian groups."
Sure it's lobbying, agrees Chris LaBonte of the HRC, but it's also a way to reconnect with old buddies on the council, one of whom, Phil Burgess, is a member of the HRC board. "We want to continue the dialogue," he said.

Dispatch from Dixie
Wednesday's House vote to grant amnesty to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants highlights the strong contrast between the conservative South and the rest of the nation, according to the leader of a Southern heritage group.
"While the South (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia) voted against the Bush-supported measure 76-71, the rest of the nation voted for it by an overwhelming 204-61," said Michael Hill, the former college history professor who is president of the League of the South.
"The sectional nature of the vote … is best illustrated by comparing the vote in the Deep South States (Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina) with that in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont). The Deep South voted against amnesty for illegal immigrants by a margin of 26-9, while New England voted for the measure 21-1," Mr. Hill said.

The wooing of Lazio
The White House also is trying to persuade former Rep. Rick Lazio to run for his old seat on Long Island, which he gave up in 2000 in an unsuccessful effort to win a U.S. Senate seat against Hillary Rodham Clinton.
As reported in this space, Mr. Lazio huddled Tuesday with Republican House leaders, who asked him what it would take to get back into elective politics.
On Wednesday, Mr. Lazio found himself at the White House for a St. Patrick's Day party, the New York Post's Deborah Orin reports.
Mr. Lazio was "seated right up in the front row with wife Pat, just a few seats from Secretary of State Colin Powell, who leaned over to shake his hand," Miss Orin said.



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