- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 23, 2008

CAMPAIGN

Palin lawyer meets with investigator

ANCHORAGE, Alaska | Less than a week after balking at the Alaska Legislature’s investigation into her purported abuse of power, Gov. Sarah Palin on Monday indicated she will cooperate with a separate probe run by people she can fire.

An attorney for the Republican vice-presidential nominee met with an investigator for the state Personnel Board to discuss sharing documents and schedule witness interviews, Sen. John McCain’s spokeswoman Meg Stapleton said. Neither she nor McCain spokesman Ed O’Callaghan had further details about the meeting and said they did not know whether Mrs. Palin or her husband would be interviewed.

Palin attorney Thomas Van Flein did not respond to telephone and e-mail messages.

Both the Legislature and the Personnel Board have hired investigators in separate inquiries of whether Mrs. Palin abused her power when she fired Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan this summer. Mr. Monegan refused to dismiss a state trooper who went through a bitter divorce with Mrs. Palin’s sister before Mrs. Palin became governor.

Mrs. Palin has refused to participate in the Legislature’s investigation since becoming Mr. McCain’s running mate.

The other investigation is overseen by the state Personnel Board, a three-member panel that serves at the governor’s will. Two members are holdovers from the previous governor and Mrs. Palin reappointed the third.

Separately, two Alaska Democrats said they may bring witness tampering allegations against the McCain-Palin campaign. The two state lawmakers, Rep. Les Gara and Sen. Bill Wielechowski, said they are evaluating Alaska’s criminal code to see if it applies in what’s become known as the Troopergate probe.

McCain campaign spokesman Taylor Griffin said the campaign has not advised any witnesses on how to respond to subpoenas.

POLITICS

Clinton understands Palin’s popularity

NEW YORK | Bill Clinton said Monday he understands why Gov. Sarah Palin is popular in the heartland: because people relate to her.

“I come from Arkansas, I get why she’s hot out there,” Mr. Clinton said. “Why she’s doing well.”

Speaking to reporters before his Clinton Global Initiative meeting, the former president described Mrs. Palin’s appeal by adding, “People look at her, and they say, ‘All those kids. Something that happens in everybody’s family. I’m glad she loves her daughter and she’s not ashamed of her. Glad that girl’s going around with her boyfriend. Glad they’re going to get married.’”

Mr. Clinton said voters would think, “I like that little Down syndrome kid. One of them lives down the street. They’re wonderful children. They’re wonderful people. And I like the idea that this guy does those long-distance races. Stayed in the race for 500 miles with a broken arm. My kind of guy.”

He added: “I get this. My view is … why say, ever, anything bad about a person? Why don’t we like them and celebrate them and be happy for her elevation to the ticket? And just say that she was a good choice for him and we disagree with them?”

IMMIGRATION

Boom slows as economy falters

The wave of immigrants entering the U.S. slowed dramatically last year as the economy faltered and the government stepped up enforcement of immigration laws.

The nation added about a half-million immigrants in 2007, down from more than 1.8 million the previous year, according to estimates released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

“The U.S. is still a beacon for many people who want to come here for all kinds of reasons,” said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution who analyzed the numbers. “But what this shows is that the economy plays a big part in it.”

The U.S. has added an average of about a million immigrants a year since 1990 - those in the country both legally and illegally.

COURTS

Passport snoop faces year in jail

A former State Department employee pleaded guilty Monday to illegally snooping on about 200 confidential passport files of politicians, celebrities and others, the Justice Department said.

It said Lawrence Yontz, 48, of Arlington, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of unauthorized computer access. He faces up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine at his sentencing scheduled for Dec. 19.

Yontz admitted that between February 2005 and March 2008 he viewed passport applications of about 200 celebrities, athletes, actors, politicians and their immediate families, musicians, game show contestants, members of the news media, prominent business professionals, colleagues and neighbors.

POLITICS

Union complains NRA bashes Obama

CHARLESTON, W.Va. | Union leaders say a National Rifle Association film crew tried to coerce West Virginia miners into bad-mouthing presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama on camera, and that the union plans a brief work stoppage in protest.

The United Mine Workers will call for the stoppage at Consol’s Blacksville No. 2 mine next week, union President Cecil Roberts said Monday at a news conference with representatives of Mr. Obama’s West Virginia campaign in Charleston.

Mr. Roberts said the union, which has endorsed Mr. Obama, is unhappy that Consol allowed the camera crew to ask miners leading questions about the candidate such as: “What do you think about losing your Second Amendment rights?”

“This, I think, is an attempt to try to twist the facts here,” he said. “We’re just hoping people aren’t misled.”

The NRA has yet to endorse a candidate. But it is sharply critical of Mr. Obama, calling him a “lying rabble rouser” on its Web site and claiming he has supported numerous antigun measures.

CAMPAIGN

Biden to raise cash in Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. | Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. is scheduled to visit Louisville for a campaign fundraiser Wednesday night.

The Obama campaign’s Kentucky director, Kenya McGruder, said Monday that Mr. Biden will be featured at the fundraiser at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Louisville.

Mr. Biden is scheduled to attend a rally earlier Wednesday just across the Ohio River in Jeffersonville, Ind. The Delaware senator is expected to talk about Sen. Barack Obama’s plans for the economy.

Indiana is considered a possible battleground in the presidential race, but Republican Sen. John McCain is a heavy favorite to carry Kentucky.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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