- The Washington Times - Monday, January 13, 2003

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 (UPI) — Capital Comment — Daily news notes, political rumors and important events that shape politics and public policy in Washington and the world from United Press International.

Net tax elimination…

Biting back at the hands of governors who are looking for every possible way to raise revenue to cover budget shortfalls in the coming fiscal year, Sen. George Allen, R-Va., plans to introduce legislation that would impose a permanent moratorium on Internet access and discriminatory taxes.

Allen's legislation would derail the efforts of a number of governors and other local elected officials who are trying to "harmonize" the tax codes in the different states with an eye to ending tax competition and turning the Internet into a cash cow for states.

Two years ago, Allen, a former Virginia governor, led the fight in the U.S. Senate to impose a temporary moratorium on Internet taxes that is set to expire this November.

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Pulling back on the reins of power…

Longtime observers on Capitol Hill know there are really three parties in Congress: the Republicans, the Democrats and the Appropriators.

In the U.S. House, the 13 subcommittee chairman, known in the congressional patois as "The Cardinals," have almost absolute power over how much money is spent — or isn't — on the programs under their control. In years past, this has resulted in appropriations bills that exceeded the amount requested by the administration in its budget, causing friction between Congress and the White House and making advocates of the limited-government approach to federal spending very unhappy.

In an effort to bring more discipline to the spending process, the House leadership has enacted a change in the way subcommittee chairman are selected. From now on the committee on committees, rather than seniority, will determine who the subcommittee chairs will be. The implicit message in this reform is that the GOP leadership expects the Cardinals to cooperate with efforts to control federal spending rather than cause problems. Any Cardinal who cannot produce a bill in line with what the leadership wants must now worry about being replaced — there being no end to the number of their colleagues who would cheerfully replace them.

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Sorry about that…

In our item last week about the Interactive Spy Game fundraiser, we misidentified AOL Founding Chairman James V. Kimsey as "James V. Kinney."

The event, which will send 12 teams of 10 players each around the Washington area trying to solve the various clues provided by the sponsors, kicks off at 7 p.m., March 26, at the International Spy Museum. To enter, teams must each raise $25,000 prior to entry with all proceeds going to the Capital Athletic Foundation, a Washington charity that fosters character development by promoting the American ideals of sportsmanship in all endeavors.

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Stripped of her defenses…

Koleen Brooks, the former stripper turned mayor of the tiny hamlet of Georgetown, Colo., finally had her day in court. Brooks, whom Georgetown residents recalled after just one very wild year in office, was found guilty of filing a false police report — a misdemeanor — but exonerated of the more serious charge of tampering with evidence.

Brooks claimed she had been attacked while walking home from the hair salon she operated in the resort community, something prosecutors suggested was a fabrication intended to help her fight off the recall effort.

"I think I should have been not guilty to both of them," Brooks, who later posed nude for Playboy magazine, told the Denver Post. "I still don't think I should have been charged with either. … I don't feel justice."

According to the Post, prosecutor Karen Romeo expressed relief at winning a guilty verdict on at least one count but maintains she should have been convicted on both. "Former Mayor Brooks falsely reported this attack. The attack did not happen," Romeo said. Sentencing is Feb. 5.

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Personnel notes…

Interior Secretary Gale Norton has picked Virginia attorney and author Frank Atkinson to be the chairman of the U.S. government's Jamestown 400th Anniversary Celebration, scheduled for 2007. Atkinson currently serves as a member of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Board of Trustees and as vice chairman of the Virginia Celebration 2007 Steering Committee… Former U.S. Sen. Tim Hutchinson, R-Ark., who was defeated in his November 2002 bid for re-election, has joined the Washington office of Dickstein Shapiro Morin and Oshinsky LLP as a senior adviser… Seth Cropsey, policy director for the Voice of America for several years during the Reagan administration, was sworn in last month as a member of the International Broadcasting Bureau, the board that oversees the operations of VOA. Cropsey had been director of governmental affairs at the law firm of Greenberg, Traurig… James May, a Washington lobbyist who has worked for the Grocery Manufacturers of America, PepsiCo and the National Association of Broadcasters, is the Air Transport Association's new president and chief executive officer. ATA is the trade association representing the nation's leading air and cargo carriers.

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