- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Dingell to set longevity record

John D. Dingell first entered the House chamber as a 6-year-old, the son of a Michigan congressman who was elected at the dawn of the New Deal era.

On Wednesday, Mr. Dingell, now 82, will walk into the Capitol as the House’s longest-serving member, entering the record books after leading a powerful committee, doggedly investigating government malfeasance and keeping a watchful eye on his home state’s auto industry.

Mr. Dingell, a Democrat who succeeded his late father in December 1955 in a Democratic-leaning district outside Detroit, will surpass the late Rep. Jamie Whitten, Mississippi Democrat, who served for more than 53 years.

“The length of time is really quite unimportant,” Mr. Dingell told the Associated Press in an interview. “It’s what I have done with that time.”


Besieged enforcer to leave SEC

The top cop at the Securities and Exchange Commission is leaving the government less than a week after receiving an angry dressing-down before Congress over the agency’s failure to detect a massive fraud scheme.

The SEC said Monday that Linda Thomsen is leaving to pursue opportunities in the private sector, but did not provide further details. She has been the agency’s enforcement director since May 2005.

Mary Schapiro late last month became SEC chairman, and it’s not unusual for new heads of the agency to replace the enforcement director. But Miss Thomsen became a lightning rod for criticism over the SEC’s failure to detect the $50 billion Ponzi scheme reportedly run by money manager Bernard Madoff, despite red flags raised to the agency staff by outsiders over the course of a decade.

A successor for Miss Thomsen has yet to be named.

The leading candidate was Robert Khuzami, a former federal prosecutor who is managing director and general counsel of investment firm Deutsche Bank.


Ex-IRS chief dies; argued with Nixon

Former Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Donald C. Alexander, who clashed with former President Richard M. Nixon over attempts to use tax information against political enemies, has died. He was 87.

Mr. Alexander died of cancer Feb. 3, according to the law firm where he was a partner, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.

He served as IRS commissioner from 1973 to 1977. In 2002, he told Tax Analysts’ Tax History Project about a meeting with Mr. Nixon in the spring of 1973, before he was confirmed as commissioner.

Mr. Alexander said the president told him: “You have a very difficult job. Do it well, and do it honestly.”

He said he was confused by Mr. Nixon’s comment. “Do it honestly? Of course I was going to do it honestly!” Mr. Alexander told the Tax History Project. “Later those words came in very handy.”

In an 1999 article in the publication Tax Notes, Mr. Alexander mentioned his decision to disband the IRS’ Special Service Staff because, “political or social views, ‘extremist’ or otherwise, are irrelevant to taxation.”

“The evening of the same day, President Nixon made his first attempt to fire me,” Mr. Alexander wrote.


Obama raves about Camp David

ELKHART, Ind. | President Obama has given the Camp David mountaintop retreat rave reviews after his first visit there.

Mr. Obama called the hideaway in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains “beautiful” as he talked Monday about his weekend visit to the presidential retreat with his wife, Michelle, and daughters Sasha and Malia.

“It was beautiful. The girls just had a great time. They had a lot of fun,” Mr. Obama told reporters as he flew from the nation’s capital to Indiana for a town hall-style meeting on the economic stimulus bill pending in the Senate. “You can see during the summer it’s going to be a nice place to spend a lot of time.”

Later Monday, Mrs. Obama echoed her husband’s comments during a visit to the Interior Department, where she thanked employees for their work.

“Barack and I and the girls, as you may have read, just had a little retreat away,” she said. “We visited Camp David for the first time, and got to experience the beautiful, the beauty of those grounds, and it was just wonderful to get a bit of a break and to spend some quality time as a family in nature.”


Browner touts green jobs in bill

Carol M. Browner, who is the new White House energy and climate director, said many green jobs in the wind and solar energy industries are in jeopardy without prompt action on the economic recovery package now before Congress.

Ms. Browner, in an interview Monday with the Associated Press, described a Senate compromise on the economic package as “a positive step.” She said the test should be how many jobs can be created and how fast money can begin to flow into the economy.

Ms. Browner said the White House has heard from numerous solar and wind energy companies that have laid off workers as projects have been canceled because of tight credit markets.

The economic package includes $7 billion in loan guarantees for renewable energy.


Union: Hackers broke into computers

Hackers broke into the Federal Aviation Administration’s computer system last week, accessing the names and Social Security numbers of 45,000 employees and retirees.

The agency said in a statement Monday that two of the 48 files on the breached computer server contained personal information about employees and retirees who were on the FAA’s rolls as of the first week of February 2006.

The server that was accessed was not connected to the operation of the air traffic control system and there is no indication those systems have been compromised, the statement said.

Tom Waters, president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3290, said FAA officials told unions representing agency employees at a briefing Monday that the second breached file with personal information contained encrypted medical information.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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