- - Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Ethics panel stalls Jackson case

The House ethics committee says it will comply with a Justice Department request to take no action in an investigation of Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., Illinois Democrat.

The committee’s announcement Tuesday follows normal practice when the department is concerned that a congressional inquiry would interfere with its investigation.

The ethics panel is investigating whether Mr. Jackson, or someone acting on his behalf, offered to raise funds for Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich in return for an appointment to the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama after he won the presidency.

A federal jury in August convicted Blagojevich on one count of lying to the FBI and deadlocked on 23 other counts, including those related to the Senate seat.

A retrial is set for April 20.


Strategist delivers scathing resignation

A top Republican National Committee strategist has resigned in a scathing letter that blasts Michael S. Steele’s tenure as chairman and said that as much as 70 percent of money raised went to fundraising costs.

RNC political director Gentry Collins left behind a five-page letter to Mr. Steele and senior members of the RNC on Tuesday. In it, he notes that the RNC spent too much money on fundraising and is broke.

The RNC responded with a memo saying it raised $24 million more than did the party during 1994’s takeover of Congress, if indexed to inflation.

Mr. Steele’s tenure at the RNC has been rocky, and several candidates are weighing bids should he seek another term.

Mr. Collins’ memo was first reported by Politico.


Ballot count trends in Murkowski’s favor

JUNEAU | Sen. Lisa Murkowski has widened her lead over GOP rival Joe Miller to 10,400 votes in her bid for re-election and is returning to Alaska, where she could declare victory as early as Wednesday.

The vote tally includes ballots challenged by Mr. Miller’s observers but credited to her total. She has more than 2,200 more undisputed votes than Mr. Miller.

Mr. Miller has said that if the math doesn’t work in his favor, he won’t fight.

Mrs. Murkowski’s campaign manager says he hopes Mr. Miller keeps his word.

But Miller spokesman Randy DeSoto said the campaign is interested in a recount and maintaining its legal fight over election protocol if the vote is close.

Asked whether 2,000 votes is close, he said he thought so.


Meeting with leaders from Hill delayed

The White House has postponed a meeting with Democratic and Republican congressional leaders to Nov. 30 after top Republicans said they had a scheduling conflict.

The meeting, originally scheduled for Thursday, will be the first time President Obama sits down with the bipartisan leadership since the Nov. 2 elections that cost Democrats control of the House and shrank the Democratic majority in the Senate.

In the wake of a bitter election campaign, the session could presage cooperation or friction between Mr. Obama and House speaker-in-waiting John A. Boehner of Ohio and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

White House and congressional officials said meeting topics will include spending reductions, international trade and energy policy.


Reid would weigh temporary cut

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday he was willing to consider a temporary tax-cut extension for all income levels even though he personally does not like the idea.

Mr. Reid, speaking to reporters, said he would “take a look at a two- or three-year temporary tax cut.”

Many leading Democrats have opposed continuing tax cuts for wealthier people, while they want a permanent extension of existing tax cuts for those individuals making $200,000 or less annually.


First lady’s chief leaving next year

Michelle Obama is losing another chief of staff.

The first lady’s office announced Tuesday that Susan Sher will leave the White House and return to Chicago after the new year. In a statement, Mrs. Obama said she is grateful for Miss Sher’s leadership and counsel.

Miss Sher began her work in the Obama administration in the White House counsel’s office. She was named Mrs. Obama’s chief of staff last year, replacing Jackie Norris, who took a position elsewhere in the government.

Her replacement has not been named.


Jindal: No plans for presidency

BATON ROUGE | Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, now promoting his new book “Leadership and Crisis,” said he doesn’t plan to run for president in 2012.

Republicans are seeking hopefuls to challenge President Obama, but the 39-year-old governor said Monday his only political ambition is to run for governor again next year.

“I’m not being coy at all. I’m not running for president in 2012. Period. No ifs, ands or buts, no caveats,” Mr. Jindal said. “We have made great progress in Louisiana, but we’ve got a lot more work to do.”

Mr. Jindal’s book charts the rise of the son of Indian immigrants to the Louisiana governor’s office, while criticizing the Obama administration. It’s silent on any national ambitions.

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