- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 1, 2006

House vs. Justice

“For most members of the publiac, the showdown between the House of Representatives and the Justice Department over the corruption investigation of Rep. William Jefferson began on May 21, when word got out that the FBI was searching Jefferson’s office in the Rayburn House Office Building,” Byron York writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“But the struggle actually began last August, when prosecutors first searched Jefferson’s homes in Louisiana and Washington and subpoenaed documents from his office. And it appears that the House of Representatives — not just Jefferson personally, but the House as an institution — has been resisting the Justice Department since virtually the beginning,” Mr. York said.

“There is a little-known provision in House rules that requires both members and staff to notify the House if they receive a subpoena. This is done by a letter to the Speaker which is read in open session and then placed in the Congressional Record. …

“Jefferson’s letter was the standard form for such notifications; it is not all that unusual for House members or staff to receive subpoenas, and the usual procedure is to write a letter like Jefferson’s, which left open the question of whether the congressman would comply with the subpoena.

“But some of Jefferson’s aides also received subpoenas, and their letters to the House were a little more revealing. Some of the subpoenas were for testimony, and the letters say that, after consulting with the House Counsel, the aides would comply with the subpoena. But other subpoenas were for documents, and — again after consulting with the House Counsel — the Jefferson aides refused to comply. …

“And that suggests that the months-long resistance in the corruption case, which most outside observers have attributed to Jefferson’s individual intransigence in the face of overwhelming evidence against him, was in fact backed by the House of Representatives itself.”

Gooey ‘centrism’

“As a third-party candidate, Ross Perot (1992) energized voters with his homespun homilies on the federal deficit; George Wallace (1968) flogged the issues of law and order and states’ rights; Strom Thurmond (1948) campaigned as the voice of Southern segregation; and ‘Fighting Bob’ LaFollette (1924) hurled his thunderbolts against ‘the power of the private monopolistic system’ over Americans,” Rocky Mountain News columnist Vincent Carroll writes.

“You get the idea: Most significant third-party candidacies in U.S. history, going back to the earliest days, have been animated by a Big Idea, or perhaps two,” Mr. Carroll said.

“So what animates Unity08, a newly hatched movement based in Denver and backed by the likes of national political operatives Hamilton Jordan, Gerald Rafshoon and Doug Bailey, and former Maine Gov. Angus King? Well, Unity08 wants to ‘take our country back from polarizing politics,’ free Washington from ‘partisan bickering’ and put the ‘rational middle’ in charge.

“As Walter Mondale might quip, Where’s the beef?

“To be sure, it’s hard to argue with Unity08’s belief that politics today is as bitter and angry as any we’ve seen in our lifetimes and that centrists have been pushed into an ever smaller corner of each party’s base. But you can’t campaign on something as gooey as ‘centrism.’ You need appealing candidates taking positions on real issues before voters will stampede on board — in part because there’s no obvious centrist position on any of the issues Unity08 identifies as ‘crucial.’

“What’s the centrist position on the ‘national debt,’ ‘nuclear proliferation,’ ‘global climate change,’ ‘the health care of all’ and ‘the disappearance of the American dream for so many of our people’ — to mention fully half of the ‘Crucial Issues’ identified so far by the group? Its Web site is silent. (And by the way, where did that bit about the lost American dream come from? The John Edwards campaign?)”

‘Moronic’ remark

New York State Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi publicly apologized yesterday for a “beyond dumb” remark about “putting a bullet between the president’s eyes.”

Mr. Hevesi hastily called a mea culpa press conference hours after putting his foot in his mouth at the Queens College commencement, New York TV station WNBC reports at its Web site (www.wnbc.com).

The Queens College press relations office said it had videotaped the commencement but could not immediately provide a copy of the tape or a transcript.

At the press conference, a contrite Mr. Hevesi repeated what he recalled saying in the speech. The comptroller said he was merely trying to convey that Sen. Charles E. Schumer has strength and courage to stand up to the president.

“I apologize to the president of the United States” as well as to Mr. Schumer, Mr. Hevesi said. “I am not a person of violence.”

“I am apologizing as abjectly as I can. There is no excuse for it. It was beyond dumb.”

Mr. Hevesi said he hadn’t been in touch with the White House but hoped his apology had reached President Bush.

Mr. Hevesi also called his comments “remarkably stupid” and “incredibly moronic.”

Frist campaign fined

The Federal Election Commission has determined that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s 2000 Senate campaign violated federal campaign-finance laws, according to FEC documents released by a watchdog group.

The federal agency levied an $11,000 fine on Frist 2000 Inc., according to the documents released by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. The group filed a complaint last year against Mr. Frist’s 2000 campaign committee and received the FEC’s findings yesterday, the Associated Press reports.

The FEC found that Frist 2000 failed to disclose a $1.44 million loan taken out jointly by the campaign and by Mr. Frist’s 1994 campaign committee. The Tennessee Republican was first elected to the Senate in 1994.

Federal law requires full disclosure of any loans taken out by campaign committees, but only the 1994 campaign committee disclosed the loan — not Mr. Frist’s 2000 campaign committee — according to the FEC documents.

In an agreement reached with the Frist campaign committee, the FEC said the committee violated the law by failing to disclose the loan in a 2000 campaign-finance report and by failing to disclose the repayment of the loan in a 2001 report.

Rose Garden event

President Bush will promote a constitutional amendment against homosexual “marriage” at a Rose Garden event Monday, the eve of a scheduled Senate vote on the issue.

The amendment would define marriage as the union of a man and a woman and bar states from recognizing same-sex “marriages.” To become law, the proposal would need two-thirds support in the Senate and House, and ratification by at least 38 state legislatures.

It stands little chance of passing the 100-member Senate, where proponents are struggling to get even 50 votes, the Associated Press reports. Several Republicans oppose the measure, and only one Democrat — Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska — says he will vote for it.

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

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