- The Washington Times - Monday, March 13, 2006

Ties to Abramoff

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has accepted campaign contributions from a Saipan garment-industry tycoon, sometimes described as a sweatshop operator, whose ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff have been part of the lobbying scandal investigation,” Byron York writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“Newly filed Federal Election Commission records show that the businessman, Willie Tan, last year gave $2,000 to Friends of Hillary, one of the senator’s political action committees. Friends of Hillary also accepted $2,000 contributions from Raymond Tan and Siu Lin Tan, family members who are top executives in Willie Tan’s businesses. All three contributions were received on September 30, 2005, according to FEC records. Another family member, Josie Tan, who listed her occupation as homemaker, made a $2,000 contribution received on October 2, 2005.” Mr. York writes.

“Together, the Tans contributed more to Friends of Hillary than the senator’s PAC received, separately, from residents of the states of Hawaii, Mississippi, Nebraska, Vermont, Utah, Kansas, Wyoming, Alaska, Idaho, South Dakota, Montana, or North Dakota, according to the nonpartisan Web site PoliticalMoneyLine.com.

“For years, Willie Tan, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, has played a central role in business and politics in the Northern Mariana Islands. His chief interest has been in protecting his garment factories, which pay sub-minimum wages, from U.S. labor laws. In 1992, Tan’s businesses were cited as sweatshops by the Labor Department, and Tan was forced to give $9 million in back wages and damages to workers. As part of his effort to steer clear of further American regulation, Tan hired Jack Abramoff.”

Daschle’s decision

Former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, accusing the Republican Party of spreading a message of fear, says he is considering a 2008 presidential bid.

“I haven’t ruled anything out or anything in at this point,” Mr. Daschle told the Associated Press on Saturday night after a dinner in his honor in Aberdeen, S.D., his hometown.

“I’m encouraged by the strong support many people have voiced for my candidacy around the country and in South Dakota. I’ll make a decision at some point later on this year,” he said.

Mr. Daschle said that President Bush and Republicans have overemphasized the importance of the war on terror and that the United States is no safer now than it was before the Iraq invasion.

“This country is not more secure when a president infers that he is above the law and can wiretap and eavesdrop on average citizens,” he said. “We’re not more secure when we turn ports over to foreign countries.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, said yesterday that he thinks the Democratic nominee likely will be determined by the end of the New Hampshire primary.

“My intention now is to see if I can garner enough support to get the Democratic nomination,” Mr. Biden said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “If I can, I stay in the race until the end of this. If it turns out that I can’t raise the money or I can’t get any support, then I make a decision about my Senate career.”

Newt’s performance

More proof that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich might be running for president: Tipsters say he wowed top-dollar Jewish donors at an off-the-record lunch during last week’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“‘Newt was a huge hit — HUGE,’ e-mailed an insider. But Newtie, who talked strong on Iran and security issues, wasn’t the only star. Hillary [Rodham Clinton’s] rival Mark Warner, the former Virginia guv, was the most popular guy at the cocktail party because of his moderate politics and support of Israel,” Mr. Bedard said.

Angry Reid

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Saturday that he was “ashamed for our country” after visiting the thousands of FEMA-owned mobile homes lined up at Hope Municipal Airport in Arkansas that have yet to be used as shelters for hurricane victims on the Gulf Coast.

“I can’t imagine that we could have a sea of 11,000 mobile homes sitting there, rotting, while people around the country can’t find a place to live,” the Nevada Democrat said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has said that it was unable to put the trailers to use because federal regulations prohibit placing them in flood plains, and many of the people needing shelter after the hurricanes are in areas classified as flood-prone.

Cost estimates for the trailers have ranged from $350 million to $800 million, the Associated Press reports.

“I’m terribly mystified, disappointed and ashamed for our country,” said Mr. Reid, who visited the site with Sen. Mark Pryor, Arkansas Democrat.

The two senators said they wrote a letter to President Bush urging him to sign an executive order for a temporary exemption from the flood-plain regulations.

Power outage

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean yesterday was bragging about the power of diversity within his party, and temporarily forgot that Republicans control the White House and Congress.

“After all, we are the most diverse party, certainly in this country, and probably the most diverse party on the face of the earth in terms of the different kinds of people who keep us in power,” Mr. Dean told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

After appearing to realize his mistake, Mr. Dean added, “And who we need to put us back in power.”

Honoring Lantos

Rep. Tom Lantos, California Democrat, has been named an “Outstanding American by Choice” by Emilio T. Gonzalez, the new head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The award, a program Mr. Gonzalez started, highlights naturalized citizens who have made a significant contribution to public life. Mr. Gonzalez, a naturalized citizen, fled Cuba with his parents at age 4.

Mr. Lantos, a Holocaust survivor from Budapest, was first elected to Congress in 1980 and is the top Democrat on the House International Relations Committee. He was part of anti-Nazi and anti-communist movements in Budapest before coming to the United States, where he became a naturalized citizen in 1952.

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

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