- The Washington Times - Friday, March 22, 2002

'Mutant' money

"Just call it the Teenage Mutant Ninja Democratic Headquarters," the New York Post's Deborah Orin writes.

"Dems wanted to keep it secret, but the moneyman behind their high-tech new headquarters being built with soon-to-be-illegal 'soft' money is Hollywood's Haim Saban of 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' fame," Miss Orin said.

"Saban, who made a fortune on children's TV shows like the Turtles and the 'Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,' won't say exactly how much he coughed up, except that it's no more than $10 million.

"But that's a record for the unregulated soft funds that would be banned under a Democrat-sponsored bill passed [Wednesday] in the Senate. Until now, the record was a mere $1.7 million Amway gift to Republicans.

"The Dems are so grateful, they've invited Saban to name their new building after himself.

"'I don't know if I'm going to name it after me,' he told the Post. 'They gave me that option, but I haven't decided yet.'

"Democratic Party chief Terry McAuliffe might be startled to hear Saban praise President Bush for a 'terrific job' on terror. The Israeli-born Saban also likes Bush's Mideast policy. He disagrees with the president only on domestic issues.

"The Ninja Dems will slip around the soft-money ban by paying the lucky contractor $30 million up front, before the ban takes effect next Nov. 6, even though the building won't be finished until December 2003."


On with the show

"Who'd have thought campaign-finance reform would have created the odd bedfellows of Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell and the American Civil Liberties Union?" the Prowler column asks at www.americanprowler.org.

"But then campaign-finance reform has made lots of strange bedfellows: former firebrand conservative John McCain and ultraliberal Tom Daschle, for example. Republicans on Capitol Hill are hoping that pair will be less visible when President George W. Bush signs the campaign-finance bill that passed [Wednesday] into law, which may come as soon as early next week, according to White House sources.

"Senate Republicans on the losing end of Wednesday's 60-40 vote are also hoping that the Bush administration won't rub it in their faces with a public signing. 'Daschle and his ilk are asking for a Rose Garden signing ceremony,' says a White House congressional liaison staffer. 'That's something we're trying to avoid.'

"Instead, according to the legislative lobbyist, it's been suggested that Bush quietly sign the bill in a low-key Oval Office ceremony. 'We know McConnell basically has the lawsuit ready to go to try to kill this thing,' says another White House policy staffer. 'Let's just sign it and get on with the next act.'"


Lazio says no

Former Rep. Rick Lazio, New York Republican, has decided not to run for his old seat from Long Island.

Mr. Lazio was courted by Republican leaders in the House last week, who promised him key committee assignments. But in the end, the man who lost a U.S. Senate race against Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton said he wanted to spend more time with his family.

"God willing, there will be other opportunities as a public servant again in the years ahead, and I will be in a position to respond to the calling," Mr. Lazio said. "I have a public servant's heart."

However, Virginia Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, who is in charge of recruiting House candidates for the GOP, said Mr. Lazio had missed his chance.

"This finishes him politically no doubt about it," Mr. Davis told New York Post reporter Vincent Morris. "There is some bitterness about this. I'd say his political career is over."


Taking credit

"Congratulations to John McCain, the folks at Common Cause and 99.9 percent of the American media. With [Wednesdays] victory in the Senate, they are all going to get the campaign finance system they've long demanded. We hope they're now willing to take credit for the consequences," the Wall Street Journal says.

"Certainly, we will give them full marks if this reform yields a more perfect politics. But if Nirvana doesn't arrive, the least the reformers can do is admit that the electoral system we will soon be living with is their handiwork," the newspaper said in an editorial.

"If 'soft money' ends up flowing to special interests that are even less accountable to voters than are politicians, the reformers will have written the loopholes. If the Supreme Court throws out half the bill, creating even more loopholes, the reformers will have written the unconstitutional parts. If a whole host of new names, many of them less than savory, become political power brokers, Mr. McCain will no doubt do the manly thing and admit this is the world he designed."


Kentucky kin

"Lots of famous sons and daughters, nieces and nephews are making bids for public office this fall," United Press International reports in its Capital Comment column.

"The latest two scions to take up the banner of the family honor are Mitt Romney, son of former Michigan GOP Gov. George Romney, who has thrown his hat into the ring in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race, and Kentucky state Rep. Steve Nunn, who has formed a gubernatorial exploratory committee. Nunn's father, the Hon. Louie Nunn, was governor of Kentucky from 1967 to 1971 and was the last Republican elected to that office," the wire service said.

"There are other legacies seeking office in Kentucky this fall. Lois Coombs Weinberg, the daughter of former Gov. Bert Coombs, is running for the Democrat nomination for U.S. Senate. State Attorney General Ben Chandler, a Democrat, may enter the race for his party's nomination for governor. He is the grandson of the legendary American political figure A.B. (Happy) Chandler, a former governor, senator and commissioner of Major League Baseball."


Traficant overruled

A federal judge yesterday refused to throw out corruption charges against Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., saying there is enough evidence that he accepted bribes and kickbacks to allow the case to proceed.

With no jury present, Mr. Traficant, Ohio Democrat, shouted himself hoarse in making his motion to have the charges dismissed, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Traficant, 60, is charged with accepting gifts and free labor from businessmen in exchange for his political help and taking cash kickbacks and free labor from staff members.

U.S. District Judge Lesley Wells ruled that "the evidence clearly is sufficient" to continue with the trial in Cleveland.

Mr. Traficant even objected to prosecutors resting their case, but Judge Wells told him it was an improper objection. Mr. Traficant, who is not a lawyer, is defending himself.


Tribute to Reagan

A bronze bust of former President Ronald Reagan that Arnold Schwarzenegger and wife, Maria Shriver, commissioned is now a permanent fixture at the 40th chief executive's library in California.

The couple arranged for the sculpture, created by artist Robert Berks, as a tribute to the former president, library spokeswoman Melissa Giller said. Mr. Berks and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Maria Shriver's mother, were guests at Wednesday night's presentation, the Associated Press reports.

The star of "The Terminator"movies and the newswoman ordered the custom bronze for display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Miss Giller said. Mr. Berks has sculpted more than 300 historic figures.


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