- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Moore to run

Roy Moore, who became a hero to the Christian right after being ousted as Alabama’s chief justice for refusing to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the courthouse, announced yesterday that he is running for governor in 2006.

Mr. Moore’s candidacy could set up a showdown with Gov. Bob Riley, a fellow Republican, and turn the Ten Commandments dispute into a central campaign issue, the Associated Press reports.

Two Democrats, Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley and former Gov. Don Siegelman, already are running. The Republican and Democratic primaries are June 6.

In 2000, Alabama voters elected Mr. Moore as chief justice of the state Supreme Court, and the next summer he had a 5,300-pound granite monument of the Ten Commandments installed in the rotunda of the state judicial building. A federal judge ordered Mr. Moore to remove the monument, but he refused.

His fellow justices had the monument moved to a storage site out of public view, and in November 2003, a state judicial court removed the chief justice from office for defying the federal court.

Hot report

The independent counsel investigation that led to the conviction of a former Clinton administration housing chief could come back to haunt Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the New York Daily News reports.

The newspaper “has learned that lawyers are fighting to suppress a potentially embarrassing final report from the probe that found Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros lied to the FBI about paying $250,000 in hush money to his ex-mistress,” reporter James Gordon Meek writes.

Mr. Cisneros paid a $10,000 fine after he was found guilty in 1999 and was later pardoned by President Clinton. And though neither Mrs. Clinton nor her husband was targeted by independent counsel David Barrett, his 420-page final report sent to a special court 13 months ago will include supposed abuses of power by his administration, sources told the News.

After Mr. Cisneros was convicted, Mr. Barrett started looking into reports that the IRS and Justice Department aides stymied a tax fraud case against the disgraced HUD secretary and audited Clinton critics.

Ex-IRS Commissioner Peggy Richardson, who remains a close friend of the Clintons, is among the officials cited in the report, sources said.

Istook’s decision

Seven-term Republican Rep. Ernest Istook said yesterday he will leave Congress to run for governor of Oklahoma in 2006.

The 55-year-old congressman joins a crowded field of candidates seeking the Republican Party nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. Brad Henry, who is running for a second term. Mr. Henry has a 70 percent approval rating in one poll, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Istook was first elected to Congress in 1992. In a reorganization, he was stripped this year of his chairmanship of the subcommittee that oversees highway funding. He had angered some committee members by withholding funding for home-state projects.

“This is unrelated. This has to do with Oklahoma’s leadership needs. It’s something that has always been in my heart to do,” he said.

Those seeking the Republican nomination include state Sen. James Williamson of Tulsa and Robert Sullivan, a Tulsa oilman.

Bashing a challenger

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has stepped up its offensive against Cranston, R.I., Mayor Steve Laffey in an effort to save liberal Sen. Lincoln Chafee from a possible upset in the Republican primary.

The TV ad, titled “Slick,” takes Mr. Laffey to task for his attacks on big oil, pointing out that “he’s the same Steve Laffey who ran a company selling oil industry stocks on Wall Street. Profiting from offshore drilling. The oil companies made a fortune. Steve Laffey made a fortune. Now Laffey says he will ‘stand up to the special interests.’”

“Slick. Steve Laffey. Laughing all the way to the bank.”

The Laffey campaign struck back yesterday, calling on Mr. Chafee to “stop hiding behind Washington Republican bosses and face him now in a debate at the location of his choosing.”

Appearance canceled

Former Education Secretary William J. Bennett has postponed an appearance at the University of Cincinnati because of what he called a “willful distortion” of his remarks about aborting black babies.

Mr. Bennett said controversy stemming from his “Morning in America” radio show last week would detract from serious discussions of issues. College Democrats at the university had said they would protest today’s scheduled appearance.

“The current controversy that has arisen around comments I made on my radio show, based on a willful distortion of what I said, will take away from the serious discussion I wanted to engage in with the students and community at the University of Cincinnati,” Mr. Bennett said in a statement released Sunday by the UC College Republicans.

While answering a caller’s question, the author of “The Book of Virtues” took issue with the hypothesis put forth in a recent book that one reason crime is down is that abortion was legalized, reducing the number of “unwanted” babies born in recent decades.

Said Mr. Bennett: “But I do know that it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.” He went on to call that “an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky.”

He said later his point was that abortion should not be opposed for economic reasons because “immoral policies are wrong because they are wrong, not because of an economic calculation.”

Kevin Welch, chairman of UC College Republicans, said Mr. Bennett’s appearance would be rescheduled for sometime in November.

Bowles’ new job

Erskine Bowles, a former White House chief of staff who returned home to North Carolina only to lose back-to-back Senate bids, was selected yesterday to be the next president of the state’s 16-campus university system.

The university system Board of Governors unanimously picked Mr. Bowles to succeed Molly Broad, who has been president since 1997.

Mr. Bowles was President Clinton’s chief of staff from 1996 to 1998. He won the Democratic nomination for Senate in 2002 and 2004, but lost to Republican Elizabeth Dole and then to former Rep. Richard M. Burr.

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

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