- The Washington Times - Friday, December 25, 2009


Poizner taps personal fortune for campaign

California Republican gubernatorial hopeful Steve Poizner is following through on a pledge to tap his personal fortune to help his struggling campaign.

Campaign-finance reports show the state insurance commissioner sent $15 million from his family trust to his account this week.

That brings Mr. Poizner’s personal contributions to more than $19 million. The total is about the same amount one of his rivals for the Republican nomination, former eBay Chief Executive Meg Whitman, has given her campaign.

A Public Policy Institute of California poll this month found 32 percent of likely Republican primary voters support Ms. Whitman, while 12 percent favor former congressman Tom Campbell and just 8 percent support Mr. Poizner.

But 44 percent still had no opinion on the race.


Ensign makes list of top ethics scandals

A government watchdog group has put Sen. John Ensign on its Top 10 list of ethics scandals for 2009.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington listed the Nevada Republican for his conduct involving his affair with Cynthia Hampton, a campaign staffer and wife of his then-administrative assistant Doug Hampton.

The Washington-based group takes Mr. Ensign to task for failing to disclose $96,000 Mr. Ensign’s parents paid to the Hamptons, and his efforts to help Mr. Hampton become a lobbyist.

Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, also was criticized for helping Mr. Hampton violate the lobbying ban by meeting with Mr. Hampton’s lobbying clients.

The watchdog group filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee seeking an investigation.


Levi Johnston’s mom serving sentence

The mother of the man who fathered former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s grandson is set to serve out most of her three-year drug sentence under home confinement.

Sherry Johnston was released from Alaska’s only women’s prison Monday and is wearing an ankle-monitoring device at her home, lawyer Rex Butler said Thursday.

Johnston, 43, was sentenced last month on her guilty plea in August to one count of possession with intent to deliver the painkiller OxyContin. Five other felony counts were dropped.

Johnston is the mother of Levi Johnston. He and 18-year-old Bristol Palin - the eldest daughter of the 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate - were engaged but called off the wedding after their son, Tripp, was born late last year.

Mrs. Palin was campaigning for the vice presidency when the case against Johnston began in September 2008 after investigators intercepted a package containing 179 OxyContin pills. The suspects who were arrested agreed to become informants.


Stimulus money goes for broadband map

Ohio is getting $1.8 million in federal stimulus money to help create a map of where broadband Internet access is available and how fast it is.

The money is part of a larger effort to create a national map that will guide policies aimed at expanding high-speed Internet access. Stimulus awards to Ohio and 14 other states were announced this week by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Internet service providers have committed to handing over data about where they have broadband coverage.

Ohio found in 2008 that broadband is available to more than 90 percent of residents, but only half subscribed to the service. Access is a problem in urban neighborhoods with high poverty, isolated rural counties and mountainous areas where rugged terrain make laying cable expensive.


Detroit to reimburse paper for legal fees

A judge has ruled Detroit must reimburse the Detroit Free Press for most of the newspaper’s legal fees in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit related to the text message scandal involving former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Wayne County Circuit Judge Robert Colombo Jr. ruled Wednesday that the paper prevailed in about 80 percent of its requests.

The paper sought about $666,000 in fees and costs, but Judge Colombo said some expenses wouldn’t be allowed. Free Press lawyer Herschel Fink plans to meet with the city to recalculate the bill.

If they can’t reach an agreement, they will return before Judge Colombo.

As part of the case, the Michigan Supreme Court in February 2008 denied Mr. Kilpatrick’s effort to keep documents sealed.

Mr. Kilpatrick later resigned and served 99 days in jail.


Bad decisions abound in 2009

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford refuses federal stimulus money, then jets off to Argentina to see his mistress for five days without telling anyone.

Republican Rep. Joe Wilson shouts “You lie!” at President Obama during a health care speech. Police investigate whether swimmer Michael Phelps smoked marijuana at a Columbia party.

And after firefighters fail to fully extinguish a backyard trash fire, it rekindles into the costliest wildfire in state history. The monster blaze threatens Myrtle Beach four days later.

Call 2009 in South Carolina the Year of the Bad Decision.

It seemed that with every click on a news Web site this year, someone in the state was making a choice that left the nation shaking its collective head.

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