- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Torricelli's friends

"New Jersey voters already concerned about Sen. Robert Torricelli's low ethical threshold now learn that he's been a paid shill for a group the government identifies as a terrorist organization," Sam Dealey writes in the New York Post.

"Called on this by his Republican opponent, Douglas Forrester, in a debate Thursday, Torricelli said the group had been pulled from the State Department's global terror list and given a clean bill of health. Not true," Mr. Dealey said.

"Of course, Torricelli did lobby to have the National Council of Resistance pulled from the list. Senators (especially ones like Torricelli) do things like that for folks who've donated generously.

"But the State Department has insisted for years that the council is just a front formed by the deadly People's Mujahedin of Iran in a bid for political legitimacy the two groups' leadership is that entwined, for starters.

"And when it came to the Mujahedin in all its aliases, the case was too strong. Despite Torricelli's near decade-long letter-writing campaign, the group remains among State's 28 targeted organizations, right up there with Hamas, Hezbollah and al Qaeda."

Hatchet man

The Democrat whose dirty tricks helped defeat Jeb Bush in his first try for the governorship of Florida is now in North Carolina and working for the election of U.S. Senate candidate Erskine Bowles, according to Al Cardenas, chairman of the Florida Republican Party.

In a letter to Bill Cobey, chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, Mr. Cardenas said: "It is my understanding that a fellow by the name of Scott Falmlen is now in North Carolina running the Democrat Party and doing his best to help Erskine Bowles. I wanted to make sure you know a bit about his background so you can be prepared for some of the most underhanded and intentionally misleading campaigning you've ever seen.

"Falmlen is responsible for setting up and then lying about thousands of phone calls to senior citizens during the 1994 gubernatorial election here in Florida. The callers told seniors that Jeb Bush opposed Medicare and wanted to abolish Social Security assertions that were intentionally and blatantly false. Another set of calls, made by callers from an organization which didn't exist, attacked Jeb for being a tax cheat, of all things another blatant lie.

"When the link to then-Governor Lawton Chiles' campaign was discovered, Falmlen repeatedly told reporters the campaign knew nothing about the calls. He persisted in his denials until he was made to appear before the Senate Executive Business, Ethics and Election Committee's hearings into the calls. He finally admitted that his denial had been a 'purposeful misstatement.' Aggressive and artful but too clever by half."

Primary results

State Treasurer Shannon O'Brien emerged victorious yesterday in Massachusetts' Democratic gubernatorial primary, setting up a November battle with Republican Mitt Romney in a state that hasn't had a Democratic governor since Michael S. Dukakis left office in 1991.

Mrs. O'Brien, the Democratic front-runner for months, held off former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich, state Senate President Tom Birmingham and former state Sen. Warren Tolman to win the nomination.

With 68 percent of precincts reporting last night, the Associated Press reports, Mrs. O'Brien had 168,406 votes, or 33 percent. Mr. Reich was second with 126,237 votes, or 25 percent. Mr. Birmingham and Mr. Tolman had 24 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

Mrs. O'Brien had been boosted throughout her campaign by key endorsements and money from feminist groups. Mr. Romney, the former Salt Lake City Olympics chief and son of former Michigan Gov. George Romney, faced no primary opponent.

In Oklahoma, meanwhile, state Sen. Brad Henry scored a surprising victory over restaurateur Vince Orza, who had been the favorite in the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nod. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Henry had 134,698 votes, or 52 percent, to Mr. Orza's 122,441, or 48 percent.

Mr. Henry advances to the November election against former Rep. Steve Largent. Republican Gov. Frank Keating is barred by state law from seeking a third term.

Skipping breakfast

"So much for leadership: Sen. Bob Smith of New Hampshire, who lost the Republican primary to Rep. John Sununu, told voters on the campaign trail that he was only concerned with doing what was best for voters in the Granite State," the anonymous Prowler writes at www.americanprowler.org.

"So, of course, when it came time for the GOP to hold its Unity Breakfast last Thursday, Smith, who is said to be devastated by his loss, took a pass on attending, instead telling the state party he had to be in Washington for important Senate votes.

"One problem: Smith didn't make any of the three roll call votes that were held that day. It couldn't have been simply about travel time. Republican Sen. Judd Gregg ate breakfast in union with the state GOP brethren and still made it back to the Beltway in time to cast two votes.

"Republicans in New Hampshire took the slight as a sign that Smith intends to be trouble in the fall election, perhaps even campaigning against Sununu."

No munchies

Democratic Rep. Rod R. Blagojevich, front-runner in the race for governor of Illinois, may have raised the bar when it comes to answering the "Have you used marijuana?" test that has become a staple of American politics.

The 45-year-old politician admitted Monday that he had tried the drug twice as a young man, but he didn't know whether he had inhaled. He was sure, however, that he didn't have an attack of the munchies afterward, Reuters news agency reports.

"I don't know if I did or not. I never liked the smell of it I was so inept at it I don't know whether I did or didn't [inhale]," he said in response to the same question once put to former President Clinton.

Mr. Clinton said he had tried the drug but had not inhaled.

Mr. Blagojevich added that he had "vivid" recollections of both encounters in college with the weed and was sure he did not come down with the post-smoking snack attack that often accompanies marijuana use.

Brief career

Vincent "Buddy" Cianci Jr.'s new although perhaps brief career as a talk-radio host began with an explanation for why the convicted former mayor of Providence, R.I., has decided to step into the broadcast booth.

"I have to work. I have to pay bills," Cianci said. "Number 2, it would be boring to sit at home all day. Number 3, I don't have any restrictions on my freedom of speech."

He will appear each morning from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. with Steve Kass on WPRO-AM 630, the Associated Press reports.

Cianci, 61, was convicted in June of racketeering conspiracy and was sentenced earlier this month to five years and four months in prison for heading what prosecutors called a wide-ranging bribery scheme out of City Hall. He is due to report to prison on Dec. 6, but he has asked a federal appeals court to free him on bail while his appeal is heard.

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