- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Attacking Earle

The Free Enterprise Fund (FEF) said yesterday it is expanding an ad campaign against Travis County, Texas, prosecutor Ronnie Earle.

Mr. Earle had to go to more than one grand jury before winning an indictment of Rep. Tom DeLay for purportedly evading state campaign-spending laws, forcing the Texas congressman to step aside as House majority leader, at least temporarily.

Mr. DeLay and conservative groups such as the Free Enterprise Fund (FEF) have accused Mr. Earle of conducting a partisan witch hunt.

The FEF said its ad, which has been running in the state capital, Austin, would begin appearing today on TV stations in Houston and in the District.

“Austin sat up and took notice after we saturated the market with this ad,” said FEF Chairman Mallory Factor. “Now even more eyes in Texas will be upon it.”

Mr. Mallory added: “Ronnie Earle is abusing his power as a prosecutor for political reasons, not in the best interests of justice. That’s wrong and people need to know it, which is why we are putting the ad on the air in other markets.”

The FEF ad, which uses footage of a snarling dog to make a point about the liberal Democrat’s investigation of the Texas Republican, can be seen on the Web at www.FreeEnterpriseFund.org.

Kemp’s stance

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Jack Kemp urged Congress yesterday to require that states restore voting rights for felons once they complete their sentences.

The 1996 Republican vice-presidential nominee made the recommendation during the first in a series of hearings on the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which bans literacy tests, poll taxes and other infringements on minority voting.

Some key provisions of the 40-year-old law expire in 2007, including one that requires areas with a history of discrimination to get federal approval before changing their election laws.

Congress is expected to extend that provision for 25 years, but the House Judiciary Committee’s panel on the Constitution is trying to determine whether the law should be tweaked. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, stirred the lone moment of dissent among witnesses with his suggestion that Congress should amend the act to guarantee voting rights for ex-felons.

Mr. Kemp quickly endorsed the idea, pointing out minorities are disproportionately charged with felonies.

“My answer is unambiguously ‘yes,’” Mr. Kemp said.

Myers’ progress

The Senate Judiciary Committee gave Julie Myers a pass yesterday on her qualifications to head U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency charged with tracking down and deporting illegal aliens in the United States.

Democrats and some Republicans have said Mrs. Myers, whose previous experience includes assistant secretary at the Commerce Department in charge of export controls and assistant to President Bush for personnel matters, does not have the law-enforcement credentials to lead one of the nation’s largest law-enforcement agencies. In addition, agents at ICE have said they would consider her just a figurehead if she wins the job.

Yesterday, at Mrs. Myers’ confirmation hearing, just three senators showed up and didn’t challenge her, only asking her to tell the committee why she is qualified.

“My experience qualifies me for this job,” she said, stressing her 13 months in Commerce and her time in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Critics have said her chief qualification is her connections — she is the niece of retired Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard B. Myers and is married to the chief of staff for Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Still, she won over several Republicans on the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which approved her nomination earlier this month on a 7-2 party-line vote. A Judiciary Committee vote is still to come.

Filing deadlines

“Inevitably, when the subject of possible turnover in House control comes up, the argument is that there are simply too few seats in play for Democrats to be able to pick up the 15 seats they need to gain the majority,” political analyst Charlie Cook writes at www.nationaljournal.com.

“And the fact that the Cook Political Report lists just 28 seats as competitive gives some credibility to this assessment. Under these circumstances, Democrats would need to hold all 11 of their vulnerable seats and win 88 percent of the 17 Republican-held seats to get a bare majority. That’s about as easy as getting an inside straight twice in one poker game,” Mr Cook said.

“But what this argument misses is the fact most states’ filing deadlines are still quite a long way off. In fact, the earliest deadline is still more than eight weeks away — Dec. 19 in Illinois. The latest deadline is next Aug. 11, in Louisiana.

“The bigger question is how well Democrats do in recruiting in those states where there are the best opportunities. In Ohio, where the political environment is downright toxic for Republicans, thanks to state government scandals and a GOP governor who is sitting on a 15 percent approval rating, Democrats have tremendous opportunities. Today, however, Democrats have just one serious challenger, Chillicothe Mayor Joe Sulzer, running against Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio. Filing closes Feb. 16 in the Buckeye State.”

Huckabee’s objection

The nation’s military should remain subordinate to state civilian authority in any response to future disasters,Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said yesterday, resisting suggestions of greater federal control in major emergencies.

Mr. Huckabee is chairman of the National Governors Association, which issued a statement criticizing the possibility of the federal government pre-empting the authority of states or governors in emergencies, the Associated Press reports.

“It’s one thing for the state to request federal assistance, including that of the military,” Mr. Huckabee said. “It’s a bad idea for the military to make that decision and usurp the authority that under the U.S. Constitution stays with the governor and local authorities.”

President Bush has indicated that he wants to give the armed forces the lead responsibility for conducting search-and-rescue operations and sending in supplies after massive natural disasters and terrorist attacks.

Negative coverage

“An exhaustive study of broadcast news coverage shows that ABC, CBS and NBC have been overwhelmingly negative in their portrayal of the Iraq war,” the Media Research Center reports at www.mediaresearch.org.

“Media Research Center analysts found that more than half of all of this year’s war stories (61 percent) focused on pessimistic topics, four times as many as discussed the progress being made by U.S. forces or Iraqi leaders (just 15 percent). The networks made terrorist attacks the centerpiece of their Iraq coverage, while few stories focused on the bravery or accomplishments of U.S. soldiers.”

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

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