- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Historic vote

The Senate yesterday unanimously confirmed Michele M. Leonhart, a veteran Drug Enforcement Administration agent and former Baltimore police officer, as the DEA’s deputy administrator — a vote that put two women in charge of the drug agency for the first time in its 31-year history.

Mrs. Leonhart joins with Karen P. Tandy, a former deputy associate attorney general named by President Bush in March 2003 as the first woman to head the DEA. They will oversee a $1.89 billion budget and nearly 10,000 employees, including 5,000 agents assigned throughout the United States and in more than 50 other countries.

As deputy administrator, Mrs. Leonhart, who also served as the former head of both the busy DEA’s Los Angeles and San Francisco field divisions, will be responsible for the drug agency’s daily operations and for administering DEA policy and direction through its operational and executive staffs.

“Drug enforcement in this country takes a huge leap forward today with the confirmation of Special Agent Michele Leonhart,” said Mrs. Tandy. “For 26 years, Special Agent Leonhart’s courageous work in the counterdrug mission has made the lives of countless children, families, neighborhoods and communities safer and better.”

Log Cabin ad

The Log Cabin Republicans, a homosexual group, launched an advertising campaign yesterday against President Bush’s plan to ban same-sex “marriages” with a constitutional amendment.

The spot features then-vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney saying — in a 2000 election debate — he would leave the matter up to the states.

“People should be free to enter any kind of relationship,” Mr. Cheney said, against a background of black-and-white images of homosexual couples and civil rights protests.

“I don’t think there should be a federal policy in this area.”

The spot concludes: “We agree. Don’t amend the Constitution.”

The 25-year-old group said the million-dollar campaign was meant “to prevent discrimination from becoming part of our nation’s Constitution.”

The spots will be broadcast in Washington and in seven states that could tip the balance in November, Agence France-Presse reports.

Nader’s pull

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader could take away a number of Arab-American votes that otherwise would go to Democrat John Kerry, the Arab American Institute said yesterday.

The institute, based in Washington, said early results of a poll it has commissioned indicate Mr. Nader’s candidacy could hurt the Democrats.

Mr. Nader is of Arab ancestry.

The institute will release the results of the poll tomorrow, United Press International reports.

Playing hardball

A Boston police union, in tough contract negotiations, has asked Democrats, including likely presidential nominee John Kerry, to boycott their national convention.

Several unions are using the July 26-29 Democratic National Convention in Boston as leverage in negotiations with the city. The Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association has said that police union members from at least nine states would walk picket lines at Boston’s Fleet Center during the convention.

Union President Thomas Nee, at a news conference Tuesday, said: “There will be an expectation that the line will not be crossed. I know Democrats do not do that. That’s the protocol.”

According to the Boston Globe, about 16,000 city employees are working without contracts. The newspaper said representatives from several other unions said they expected any negotiations to be completed before the convention.

Dubious vote count

Florida, home of the 2000 presidential recount, had few voting problems during its presidential primary Tuesday, with only one county reporting serious complications.

Bay County, in the Florida Panhandle, suspended its count when Missouri Democratic Rep. Richard A. Gephardt — who dropped out of the race two months ago and polled about 1 percent elsewhere in the state — took a 2-1 lead over statewide winner Sen. John Kerry, with almost two-thirds of the county’s precincts tabulated.

County elections officials believe the problem was caused by a computer-software glitch in the optical-scan machines that counted almost all of the 19,000 votes cast. On optical-scan machines, voters use pencils to mark their ballots, which are then tabulated by a scanner. Bay County officials were going to recount the ballots by hand, the Associated Press reports.

Ramsey candidacy?

The father of slain beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey is thinking about seeking election to the Michigan House of Representatives.

John Ramsey may run as a Republican for a seat in the northern part of the state, his wife, Patsy, said Tuesday.

“A lot of our friends have been encouraging him to do it,” she said.

Mr. Ramsey is registered to vote in the town of Charlevoix, where his family has owned a vacation home. The family moved to Michigan full-time last fall, Patsy Ramsey said.

Mr. Ramsey has not yet filed to run for the open seat, but the deadline is not until May 11, the Associated Press reports.

Name added

A South Carolina state Senate committee approved adding the name of Strom Thurmond’s biracial daughter to the list of his children engraved on a monument to the late U.S. senator, the Associated Press reports.

Essie Mae Washington-Williams came forward last year and announced she is the daughter of Mr. Thurmond and a black 16-year-old housekeeper who worked in the Thurmond family home.

Mr. Thurmond was 22 years old when Mrs. Washington-Williams was born. He died last year at age 100.

The Statehouse monument in Columbia was built in the late 1990s with $850,000 in private donations. The statue depicts Mr. Thurmond as he was in the 1960s — in the midst of a political career that spanned most of the past century.

Mr. Thurmond also had four children with his second wife, Nancy. The oldest is 31-year-old Strom Thurmond Jr.

Musical voters

A pro-life group says it will attempt to register 500,000 young adults this year at rock concerts and music festivals.

The organization, Rock For Life, says it will use its 100 chapters to conduct voter-registration efforts at major music festivals, concert venues and colleges, United Press International reports.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected].

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