- - Thursday, October 27, 2011


Judge denies Edwards‘ bid to dismiss case

GREENSBORO — A federal judge denied on Thursday a bid by former presidential candidate John Edwards to have the criminal case against him thrown out, paving the way for a trial to begin in January.

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles said in Greensboro that the five motions to dismiss were denied without prejudice, meaning Mr. Edwards‘ lawyers can use them at a later date. The former U.S. senator is charged with using campaign funds to cover up an affair he had during his unsuccessful bid for the White House in 2008 and then submitting false campaign finance reports to cover his tracks. He has pleaded not guilty.

Mr. Edwards was in the courtroom and displayed no visible reaction to the decision.

Mr. Edwards and his defense team argue that the federal government’s case depends on a completely novel set of legal arguments that have never been validated by a court. But Judge Eagles said it may be that the facts of his case are unique and untested.

The 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee had an affair with campaign videographer Rielle Hunter, eventually fathering a child. Prosecutors contend that Mr. Edwards used money from donors far in excess of legal campaign limits to keep the dalliance under wraps.


Perry plan may include skipping future debates

AUSTIN — Rick Perry may skip some upcoming Republican presidential debates after recent rocky performances that have hurt his standing in polls.

Aides say he has committed to participating in a Nov. 9 debate in Michigan but hasn’t committed to any beyond that.

He’s seeking to reintroduce himself to the nation on his own terms. And he’s returning to the play-it-safe strategy he successfully employed in running for governor of Texas.

Mr. Perry has never lost an election. And he debated only when it couldn’t be avoided.

He has long conceded he’s not a strong debater, contending that his personal contact is a key to his success. But it’s unclear whether that will work in a national campaign.


Controller in first lady incident had ‘errors’

A report by federal safety investigators says the air traffic controller who allowed a plane carrying first lady Michelle Obama to fly too close a military cargo jet last spring had accumulated four previous “coordination errors.”

The National Transportation Safety Board report released Thursday said the controller violated two Federal Aviation Administration procedures during the incident. The Boeing 737 with Mrs. Obama and vice presidential spouse Jill Biden aboard was forced to abort an intended landing at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland to avoid wake turbulence from the larger military jet and to give it time to clear the runway.

The report said the controller, who wasn’t identified, was relieved of his air traffic control duties and sent for retraining, but is approved to handle air traffic again.


Mack is expected to shake up race

TALLAHASSEE — As Rep. Connie Mack IV of Florida prepares to jump into a U.S. Senate race instead of seeking re-election, he is likely to become the instant front-runner.

A spokesman said Mr. Mack, whose father held the same Senate seat and whose great-grandfather is in the Baseball Hall of Fame, will enter the primary soon.

That will create a five-way race. In March, Mr. Mack said he considered running for the Senate, but decided to seek re-election. He reconsidered after watching the lackluster primary. None of the current candidates has generated a lot of excitement.

Strategists from both major parties say his name recognition and ability to raise money as a sitting congressman will make him a front-runner, but he’ll have to prove he deserves the status if he wants to keep it.


GOP seeking waiver of environmental laws

A growing number of lawmakers are working to give Border Patrol agents unfettered access to all federal lands within 100 miles of the border with Mexico and Canada to fight illegal immigration.

Federal agents must follow environmental protections that can keep them from patrolling huge swaths of land unless they are on horseback or foot. They sometimes have to wait months before getting permission to install surveillance equipment. Agents have told lawmakers that the restrictions can hinder their effectiveness.

In recent weeks, three congressional panels have moved to give the Border Patrol the authority to disregard the environmental restrictions.

Environmental groups and some Democratic lawmakers say the effort is a ruse. They say conservatives are using immigration to roll back environmental protections they have long opposed.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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