Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Franken appears to hold lead of 48

MINNEAPOLIS | Democrat Al Franken is poised to hold on to a 48-vote lead over Republican Sen. Norm Coleman as Minnesota’s Canvassing Board awards a final pile of votes in the state’s unsettled Senate race. But the counting isn’t over yet.

The board on Tuesday is set to award votes from about 5,000 challenges that had been withdrawn by both campaigns. Based on a draft report released late Monday by the Secretary of State’s Office, once those votes are awarded, Mr. Franken will have 48 more votes than Mr. Coleman.

The two campaigns and the Secretary of State’s Office still have to agree on how to handle an estimated 1,600 improperly rejected absentee ballots.


Ex-presidents to be co-chairmen

Former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton are among more than a dozen honorary co-chairmen of President-elect Barack Obama‘s inauguration.

The group announced Monday by the Presidential Inaugural Committee also includes retired Gen. Colin L. Powell, relatives of Mr. Obama and Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., and members of Congress from both parties, including Illinois’ senior senator, Democrat Richard J. Durbin, and Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican.

The inaugural committee has not finalized what role the co-chairmen will play in the Jan. 20 inauguration, but described the group as “prominent Americans from both sides of the aisle who have dedicated their lives to selfless service to their fellow citizens.”

Also named as co-chairs were Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat; Rep. Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin Democrat; Rep. Artur Davis, Alabama Democrat; Rep. Linda T. Sanchez, California Democrat; and retiring Rep. Ray LaHood, Illinois Republican, Mr. Obama’s choice for transportation secretary. Mr. Obama’s sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, and brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, also will serve, along with Mr. Biden’s son and daughter-in-law, Hunter and Kathleen Biden.


Nader loses suit against Kerry

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by Ralph Nader that accused Democrats of conspiring to keep him off the ballot in the 2004 presidential election.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina tossed the lawsuit Monday.

Mr. Nader had named as defendants the Democratic National Committee, Sen. John Kerry‘s presidential campaign and the Democratic lawmaker himself. Among other claims, the lawsuit charged that the Democratic Party tried to bankrupt Mr. Nader’s campaign by suing to keep him off the ballot in 18 states.

Mr. Nader received 463,653 votes in 2004 election, or 0.38 percent of total votes cast.

Mr. Kerry, Massachusettes Democrat, lost the election to President Bush, who won a second term.


Bush undergoes MRI on shoulder

President Bush had an MRI of his left shoulder Monday in an attempt to ascertain why he has experienced pain recently.

Mr. Bush had the exam during a visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to visit troops recovering from severe injuries suffered in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

White House physician Dr. Richard Tubb performed the MRI, and results were possible later Monday, Mr. Johndroe said. Mr. Bush’s activities have not been restricted by the pain, and Dr. Tubb said the problem is probably the result of no more than wear and tear.

While at Walter Reed, the Army’s top treatment center for wounded military personnel, the president was visiting 13 patients and spending time with the family of one soldier in intensive care.


Monitor clears cops in DNC arrests

DENVER | An independent Denver police monitor said officers did nothing wrong during mass arrests on the first day of the Democratic National Convention.

Monitor Richard Rosenthal said Monday that there’s no evidence to support a complaint charging that officers lied about whether they gave an order to disperse before arresting more than 100 people.

The American Civil Liberties Union complaint also contended a police officer pretending to be a protester created a tense atmosphere when he confronted another officer.


Clinton writes off $13.1 million loan

NEW YORK | Hillary Rodham Clinton has written off $13.1 million in personal funds she lent her failed presidential campaign, new disclosure reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show.

Mrs. Clinton loaned the money to her campaign in several installments last spring as she fought fellow Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, a battle she ultimately lost.

The former first lady and New York senator has been working to pay down that debt to clear the way for confirmation as President-elect Barack Obama’s secretary of state. Federal ethics rules prohibit Cabinet officials from actively soliciting campaign contributions.

Since suspending her campaign in June, Mrs. Clinton has told donors she would absorb the personal loan and would not be raising money to pay it down. The campaign’s latest FEC report, filed Dec. 20, was the first to reflect that she had formally forgiven the loan.

The new report showed the campaign still owes $6.3 million to vendors, down from about $7.4 million in November. The largest obligation - $5.3 million - is owed to the polling firm of Mrs. Clinton’s senior strategist, Mark Penn.


IRS collects less from audits

The amount of money the IRS collects from audits and other reviews fell by nearly $3 billion this year as the agency shifted resources to make sure people got their economic-stimulus checks.

Overall, collections dropped to $56.4 billion for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 - a 4.7 percent decrease from $59.2 billion collected in 2007, the agency said Monday.

It was the first year-to-year decrease in collections in a decade.

In addition to its regular duties, the IRS issued 117 million payments totaling more than $95 billion as part of the federal economic- stimulus program this past spring.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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