- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Keene on DeLay

American Conservative Union President David Keene is defending former Rep. Tom DeLay’s new membership on the ACU board, despite the resignations of four other board members upset by the addition of the Texas Republican, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Virginia public relations executive Craig Shirley, former Texas Republican Party Chairman Tom Pauken, political strategist Marc Rotterman and Robert Luddy, a North Carolina businessman, confirmed to the Chronicle’s Michael Hedges that they had resigned from the 33-member ACU board.

Mr. DeLay, who was House majority leader before resigning last year, “was part of a congressional leadership that oversaw a massive expansion of the government, which conservatives opposed,” Mr. Luddy said, while Mr. Rotterman said Mr. DeLay was “complicit in the largest expansion of government in recent times.”

Mr. Keene, however, stands by Mr. DeLay.

“When I introduced him [to ACU members], I said that, like a number of Republicans, Tom had done some work on the dark side,” Mr. Keene told the Chronicle. “Now, he wants to harness his abilities for our agenda.”

Mr. Keene added: “Who can you think of better than Tom DeLay to be sitting in the room when you are setting priorities with Congress?”

No scorekeeper

“Nothing highlighted Congress’ spending problem in last year’s election more than earmarks, the special projects like Alaska’s ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ that members drop into last-minute conference reports leaving no opportunity to debate or amend them. Voters opted for change in Congress, but on earmarks it looks as if they’ll only be getting more smoke and mirrors,” John Fund writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“Democrats promised reform and instituted “a moratorium” on all earmarks until the system was cleaned up. Now the appropriations committees are privately accepting pork-barrel requests again. But curiously, the scorekeeper on earmarks, the Library of Congress’s Congressional Research Service (CRS) — a publicly funded, nonpartisan federal agency — has suddenly announced it will no longer respond to requests from members of Congress on the size, number or background of earmarks. ‘They claim it’ll be transparent, but they’re taking away the very data that lets us know what’s really happening,’ says Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn. ‘I’m convinced the appropriations committees are flexing their muscles with CRS.’

“Indeed, the shift in CRS policy represents a dramatic break with its 12-year practice of supplying members with earmark data. ‘CRS will no longer identify earmarks for individual programs, activities, entities or individuals,’ ” stated a private Feb. 22 directive from CRS Director Daniel Mulhollan.

Hillary’s rationale

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday dismissed any comparison between the firing last fall of eight U.S. attorneys and the replacement of 93 U.S. attorneys when her husband became president in 1993.

“That’s a traditional prerogative of an incoming president,” Mrs. Clinton told the Associated Press.

Once U.S. attorneys are confirmed, they should be given broad latitude to enforce the law as they see fit, she said.

“I think one of the hallmarks of our democracy is we have a devotion to the rule of law,” Mrs. Clinton said.

She said that should she win the presidency in 2008, she likely would replace all of the U.S. attorneys appointed by President Bush. She said that’s merely following traditions in which presidents appoint prosecutors from their own party.

Corzine’s ethics

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine’s top ethics advisers were asked yesterday to investigate whether gifts he gave a former girlfriend who heads a union for state employees created a conflict of interest.

Bogota, N.J., Mayor Steve Lonegan said he filed a complaint with the Ethics Advisory Panel about Mr. Corzine’s relationship with Carla Katz, president of Communications Workers of America Local 1034, the largest state workers union chapter.

The panel was created under an executive order that established a gubernatorial conduct code. Its two members are appointed by the Democratic governor. Mr. Lonegan, a Republican, refiled the complaint after it was rejected Friday by the State Ethics Commission.

The governor’s office had no immediate comment, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Corzine, a multimillionaire from his stint as Goldman Sachs chairman in the 1990s, dated Miss Katz from 2002 to 2004, when he was a U.S. senator. In 2005, about the time he announced his run for governor, he forgave a $470,000 mortgage loan to Miss Katz, turning it into a gift. Mr. Corzine has refused to detail what other gifts he gave to Miss Katz, insisting they’re his personal business and denying they created a conflict.

However, he has indicated that other gifts exist, recently “hypothesizing” to the Star-Ledger of Newark that he may have paid private-school tuition for Miss Katz’s two children.

Al-Jazeerah, Ga.

In April 2003, The Washington Times first reported that a faculty member at Dalton (Ga.) State College operates the Al-Jazeerah anti-war Web site (aljazeerah.info, which is not affiliated with the Arab-language TV news channel Al Jazeera).

Last week, Texas blogger Rusty Shackleford (mypetjawa.mu.nu) was surprised to learn that Hassan A. El-Najjar is still running the site, which Mr. Shackleford said “openly supports terrorism, conspiracy theories, and is anti-Semitic.”

Mr. Shackleford sent an e-mail to James Burran, president of the college, and received a reply, saying that Mr. El-Najjar “is careful not to interject his political or religious views in the classroom.”

“The Web site to which you refer is the product of Dr. El-Najjar’s own time and effort, and is in no way supported by Dalton State College,” Mr. Burran wrote in the e-mail. “We cannot abridge the constitutional rights of any individual, including freedom of expression, even when we do not agree with it.”

Mr. Shackleford’s reaction: “Can you say, cop-out? Not totally unexpected, though. … You know, academic freedom trumps sympathy to the enemies of the United States.”

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

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