- The Washington Times - Friday, February 17, 2006

High court to rehear whistleblower case

The Supreme Court said yesterday that it will again hear arguments in the free-speech case of a whistleblower, apparently so that the new justice can break a tie.

The appeal was among about 20 that were heard, but not resolved, before Justice Sandra Day O’Connor retired late last month and was replaced by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.

The Bush administration wants the court to use the case to make it harder for government whistleblowers to win lawsuits claiming retaliation. The case involves Los Angeles County prosecutor Richard Ceballos, who asserted he was demoted for trying to expose a lie by a sheriff’s deputy.

It was not clear from yesterday’s announcement if the case was the only one that will require a new argument session because of a 4-4 split.

4 held at border; marijuana seized

YUMA, Ariz. — Mexican officials arrested four suspected narcotics smugglers yesterday after U.S. Border Patrol agents recovered a large stash of marijuana along the Colorado River.

The marijuana was located after a Border Patrol pilot spotted several people removing bundles from a Dodge Durango on the U.S. side of the Colorado River along the international boundary with Mexico. Two additional vehicles were spotted on the Mexican side of the river.

When Border Patrol agents responded to the location, the truck began fleeing toward Mexico.

Mexican officials from the Baja California State Judicial Police arrived on the Mexican side and detained four persons who were with the Durango and the two other vehicles. Agents recovered more than 700 pounds of marijuana, worth about $570,000 at the river’s edge.

RNC sets record for fundraising

The Republican National Committee (RNC) raised $13.7 million last month, getting off to a fast start for this midterm election year.

That was the most raised in any one month since the 2004 election year, Republican officials said.

The RNC, which has been outraising the Democratic National Committee (DNC) by a 2-1 margin, reported yesterday that it had nearly $39 million cash on hand at the end of January.

Levee plan passes state legislature

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana lawmakers voted yesterday to put the state in charge of overseeing all of Southeast Louisiana’s levees, hoping to end complaints from Congress that the state lacks competent oversight of its flood-control system.

The state Senate vote yesterday sends the measure to Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, who proposed the plan. It will take effect next year if voters approve it during a statewide election in September.

Under the plan, flood-control specialists with the state’s Coastal Restoration and Protection Authority will negotiate directly for federal funding with Congress and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Lawyers seek delay in Abramoff sentencing

MIAMI — The Justice Department and defense lawyers asked a federal judge yesterday to delay the March 16 sentencing of lobbyist Jack Abramoff in a Florida fraud case to allow him more time to cooperate in a broader government corruption investigation.

Abramoff pleaded guilty Jan. 4 to charges that he and a former partner, Adam Kidan, concocted a fake wire transfer to make it appear they were putting a sizable stake of their own money into the purchase of the SunCruz Casinos gambling fleet. Kidan also pleaded guilty.

Abramoff also pleaded guilty last month to charges stemming from an investigation into the former lobbyists’ ties to members of Congress and to the Bush administration.

Both guilty pleas require extensive cooperation from Abramoff in exchange for potential leniency at sentencing.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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