- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 8, 2003

Something sinister?

“To add a note of paranoia, isn’t there something sinister about the newly announced organization, Democrats for America’s Future, which revealed itself just six days before the California election?” the Wall Street Journal’s Holman W. Jenkins writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“Nameplate sponsors include Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich and partisan goon James Carville. The group, with $100,000 in seed money, described its mission as organizing ‘legal teams on a statewide and key-county basis in the pre-election, Election-Day and Post-election periods to deal with voting-related issues, disputes and challenges.’

“Yikes. Three years ago, the Supreme Court went out of its way to insist that Bush v. Gore was an anomaly, not an invitation to bring every election in the country into the court system,” Mr. Jenkins said.

“That was then. Discarded already has been any exact memory of why Florida became a litigation swamp — because the election was so close. Last month’s attempted blocking of the recall by a federal appeals court established that not only did an election not have to be close to be legally challenged: It hadn’t even taken place yet!

“We hope we’re wrong but it would be an unwarranted optimism to imagine at this point Democratic lawyers aren’t already dreaming up a strategy to muddy Arnold’s election victory even if they have no hope of reversing the outcome. Lawsuits are no longer just about ensuring a fair count. They’re in danger of becoming a spoiling tactic in the never-ending battle for power.”

Reynolds returns

Former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds, who went from Harvard to the House of Representatives to prison, says he wants his old job back.

Mr. Reynolds said Tuesday he’ll seek the seat in Congress now held by fellow Democrat Jesse Jackson Jr., the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Reynolds resigned his House seat from Chicago in 1995 after being convicted of having sex with an underage campaign worker. He served 2 years in prison.

In 1997, he was convicted of fraudulently obtaining bank loans and diverting money intended for voter-registration drives into his campaign fund.

President Clinton commuted Mr. Reynolds’ prison term during his final hours in office.

Mr. Reynolds said Mr. Jackson “simply isn’t doing his job” in representing the 2nd Congressional District, which includes parts of Chicago’s South Side and several suburbs.

$14 million gala

The Republican National Committee raised at least $14 million yesterday at a gala featuring President Bush, expanding an already substantial fund-raising advantage over its Democratic rival.

The RNC took in a record of more than $30 million at the event last year, before a ban on corporate, union and unlimited contributions took effect.

Now, national party committees can accept only contributions of $25,000 or less. Only individuals and political action committees can donate.

The $1,500-per-ticket evening event at the Washington Hilton was Mr. Bush’s first major party fund-raiser since last May, when he headlined a Republican congressional dinner that raised $22 million for the GOP’s efforts to keep control of Congress, the Associated Press reports.

Through August, the most recent figures available, the RNC raised about $69.6 million and had $24.6 million on hand. The Democratic National Committee took in $26.3 million and had $7.8 million on hand.

Losing his suds

Missouri Gov. Bob Holden has lost the support of Anheuser-Busch, one of the state’s wealthiest and most influential political voices.

Mr. Holden, a Democrat, said top executives at the St. Louis-based beer company wanted him to sign a bill allowing the carrying of concealed guns. Mr. Holden vetoed the bill, and lawmakers overrode his decision and enacted the measure themselves.

Mr. Holden’s likely Democratic primary challenger, state Auditor Claire McCaskill, said the brewer’s support is going to her.

“Anheuser-Busch has indicated they are no longer supporting me,” Mr. Holden acknowledged in an interview with the Associated Press. “There’s many people in that organization that wanted me to support the conceal and carry, and I said no.”

Perdue’s plan

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue said he will propose a constitutional amendment next year that would give the state new power to contract with faith-based organizations to provide services to the needy.

Georgia already has contracts with hundreds of such groups but the contracts may be on shaky legal ground and subject to challenge because of language in the current constitution, the Associated Press reports.

The language is “a relic of bygone religious bigotry,” Mr. Perdue said in a speech Tuesday.

The state chairman of the Christian Coalition of Georgia, Sadie Fields, called it “a wonderful idea,” and leaders of both parties voiced support.

But Debbie Seagraves, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, called the proposal “misguided,” adding, “It shows a lack of understanding of why our Founders set up a nation to keep the government out of religion.”

Mr. Perdue said the current state constitution includes language that hearkens back to a national anti-Catholic movement of the 1850s, barring the use of state money in aid of churches or sectarian institutions.

A constitutional amendment would need the approval of two-thirds of the members of the state House and Senate, then would be submitted to the voters for approval or rejection.

Case dismissed

The Federal Election Commission has dismissed a complaint accusing Wal-Mart of making an illegal corporate donation to then-Senate candidate Elizabeth Dole by providing shoppers with a company publication featuring the Republican.

Three Republican commissioners who backed the dismissal argued that the publication qualified for a press exemption that lets news organizations run articles about candidates without violating a ban on corporate contributions to federal campaigns.

Commissioners Bradley Smith, Michael Toner and David Mason wrote that under the First Amendment, the FEC should dismiss cases “that present us with nothing more than a feature in a periodical about a candidate, unless the evidence shows that the periodical is owned or controlled by a candidate, political committee or political party.”

Commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat, joined the three in voting to dismiss the complaint, but didn’t sign their written statement. Two other commissioners, both Democrats, voted against dismissal. Commissioner Scott Thomas wrote that he didn’t believe the press exemption applied.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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