- The Washington Times - Friday, January 6, 2006

Keeping the money

Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, citing his support for American Indian causes, says he has no plans to return any of the $42,500 he took from tribes represented by Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

“He’s proud to have their support,” Kennedy chief of staff Sean Richardson said Wednesday. “He has got direct personal relationships with tribes. … He looks at it as a human and civil rights issue, the fact that they’re still not treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

The Rhode Island Democrat was the top congressional Democratic recipient of Abramoff-linked funds, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign watchdog group that analyzed contributions from 1999 to 2005. He was eighth overall among members of Congress, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Abramoff, who has admitted he defrauded some Indian tribes, is at the heart of a burgeoning Capitol Hill corruption scandal.

Mr. Kennedy never was lobbied by Mr. Abramoff or his associates and did not receive any checks from Mr. Abramoff, Mr. Richardson said.

Although President Bush and other top Republicans scrambled to give away contributions from tribes linked to Mr. Abramoff, Kennedy aides said the congressman’s family, beginning with his late uncle Robert F. Kennedy in the 1960s, has championed American Indian causes.

The congressman co-founded the Native American Caucus in the House in 1997. He also raised money from several tribes for his party as the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during 1999 and 2000.

The congressman has received contributions from 110 tribes and visited about a dozen reservations, Mr. Richardson said. Mr. Kennedy has accepted donations from Indian gambling interests since he first came to Congress a decade ago.

Nevada possibility

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar B. Goodman is considering running for the Senate seat held by Republican John Ensign, the Senate’s top Democrat says.

Minority Leader Harry Reid said Mr. Goodman talked to him about a potential candidacy. In an interview Tuesday, Mr. Reid called the mayor “a real vote-getter,” the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Goodman has not responded to speculation about his political ambitions, saying he is concentrating on being the “happiest mayor in the universe.”

Before becoming mayor in 1999, Mr. Goodman was a defense attorney whose mob clients included Anthony “Tony the Ant” Spilotro. Mr. Goodman got 86 percent of the vote when re-elected.

The Aug. 15 Democratic primary also could include former President Jimmy Carter’s son Jack, who is soliciting donations for a Senate run.

Wrong question

“In observing the judicial-confirmation process as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, nothing has been more surprising than the depiction of the role judges play in society,” Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, writes at National Review Online, www.nationalreview.com.

“It is disconcerting each time a senator asks a judicial nominee whose ‘side’ they will be on once they assume the bench. On the side of workers? Women? The disabled?

“Strange questions to ask of judges. As a justice of the Texas Supreme Court for seven years, if asked who I might ‘side’ with, the response would have been: I would ‘side’ where legal claims had merit,” Mr. Cornyn said.

“This question implies that the art of judging is little more than reading the caption of the case and deciding which party merits greater sympathy. This is a terrible misunderstanding, and misrepresentation of what judges do. Judges interpret and apply neutral legal principles without regard to the parties involved. When interpreting the words of a statute, it does not matter whether the plaintiff is white or the defendant is a corporation — this is why Lady Justice has always been blindfolded.

“But that is no longer how the responsibility of a judge is represented, and nothing highlights this better than the rhetoric used in the Supreme Court nomination process.”

Robertson’s remarks

The Rev. Pat Robertson, a Christian broadcaster, suggested yesterday that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s stroke was divine punishment for “dividing God’s land.”

“God considers this land to be His,” Mr. Robertson said on his TV program, “The 700 Club.” “You read the Bible and He says, ‘This is My land,’ and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, ‘No, this is mine.’ ”

Mr. Sharon, who ordered Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip last year, suffered a severe stroke on Wednesday.

In Mr. Robertson’s broadcast from his Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia Beach, the evangelist said he personally had prayed about a year ago with Mr. Sharon, whom he called “a very tender-hearted man and a good friend.” Mr. Robertson said he was sad to see Mr. Sharon in this condition.

The broadcaster also said, however, that in the Bible, the prophet Joel “makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who ‘divide My land.’…”

Mr. Sharon “was dividing God’s land, and I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the [European Union], the United Nations or the United States of America,” Mr. Robertson said.

In discussing what he said was God’s insistence that Israel not be divided, Mr. Robertson also referred to the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who had sought to achieve peace by giving land to the Palestinians. “It was a terrible thing that happened, but nevertheless he was dead,” Mr. Robertson said.

Snow and O’Neill

Treasury Secretary John W. Snow had some kind words for his predecessor, Paul H. O’Neill, during an appearance yesterday on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.”

Mr. Snow’s remarks were prompted by a caller who asked, “First of all, is your name on the money? And how cool is that? Second, did you ever know Paul O’Neill, and why did he retire? I thought he was like the coolest cat I ever saw. I liked him.”

Mr. Snow replied, “On Paul O’Neill, I share your view. I guess you called him a cool guy. I have known Paul for a long, long time. He’s one of the ablest business executives and public officials I have ever known.”

Mr. Snow added, “And then on this question on having your name on the dollar and is it cool, well, I must say it sure enhances your standing with your grandchildren. I am more beloved by my grandchildren and more in their consciousness than ever would have been the case otherwise.”

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

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