- - Monday, April 16, 2012

The House’s top tax writer said Monday that he will listen to Mitt Romney’s proposals for limiting tax breaks for the wealthy, but did not commit himself to adopting plans offered by the likely Republican presidential nominee.

“I’m going to listen very carefully” to Mr. Romney’s ideas, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, Michigan Republican, told reporters.

Mr. Camp spoke a day after other reporters overheard Mr. Romney telling people at a private fundraiser in Florida that, to pay for his proposed income tax rate cuts, he would probably end the tax break high earners can take for mortgages on second homes.

Mr. Romney said he might also end the deductions for state and local income taxes, and for state property taxes for those making the largest incomes. He did not specify how he would define high-income individuals.

The candidate also said he would seek unspecified potential cuts from the departments of Education, and Housing and Urban Development.

Mr. Romney has said he wants to keep all the broad tax cuts from expiring that were first approved under President George W. Bush. He also has said he wants to reduce tax rates by 20 percent but has not previously offered much detail about how he would pay for the costs of doing that.

Democrats have favored extending the Bush tax cuts, but not for the wealthiest Americans. Tax treatment of the rich has become a defining issue in this year’s presidential and congressional campaigns as the two parties vie for votes, with each arguing that it has the best ideas for reviving the economy.

“Obviously as a presidential candidate, he is going to have some ideas on tax reform as well,” Mr. Camp said when asked about Mr. Romney’s comments on tax breaks for second homes and state and local taxes. “They’re not necessarily views the committee has adopted yet. But we’re going to be looking at all those items.”


Democrats’ director resigns, denies any harassment

RALEIGH — The executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party has resigned amid concern among party activists about high turnover at the party headquarters and harassment allegations there.

Jay Parmley, who became the top administrator last year after holding a similar post in South Carolina, resigned Sunday.

He wrote in a resignation letter that he had “never harassed any employee at any time at the (state party) or in any other job.”

State party leaders raised concerns after emails circulated last week that mentioned the allegations, which the party has not detailed.

State party chairman David Parker agreed that the issues involving Mr. Parmley were becoming a political distraction, particularly in an election year.

The Democratic National Convention will be held in Charlotte in less than five months.


Towns retiring after 30 years in Congress

NEW YORK — Edolphus Towns, the Democratic congressman from New York City, says he won’t be running for a 16th term.

His assistant, Allan Joseph, tells the Associated Press that the 77-year-old Brooklyn lawmaker will retire in January after 30 years in Congress.

Mr. Towns says in a statement that he made the decision after months of family discussions. He gave no details. Mr. Towns says he “firmly” believes that he would have won if he had run.

During his time in Congress, he says he brought millions of dollars of improvements to his district. It includes the neighborhoods of Clinton Hill, Mill Basin, downtown Brooklyn, Boreum Hill and parts of Williamsburg.

Mr. Towns says he also fought Wall Street corruption as chair of the Congressional Oversight Committee, and helped to bring health care to millions of uninsured Americans.


Jury selection continues in John Edwards case

GREENSBORO — A federal judge Monday dismissed 47 potential jurors from the coming John Edwards trial, many because they said they couldn’t fairly weigh evidence involving the former Democratic presidential candidate.

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles made her decisions Monday based on written questionnaires from 185 people summoned last week to the federal courthouse in Greensboro. Most of those dismissed indicated they had made up their minds about Mr. Edwards’ guilt or innocence of alleged campaign-finance violations based on media reports. Others were dismissed because they had medical conditions or personal hardships that would make it difficult for them to be present for the trial, which is expected to last about six weeks.

Mr. Edwards has pleaded not guilty to six criminal counts related to nearly $1 million in secret payments from two wealthy campaign donors that was used to hide his pregnant mistress as he sought the White House in 2008.

Opening arguments are scheduled to begin next Monday.

Judge Eagles said about 50 of the remaining people from the jury pool will be recalled Tuesday so she can ask questions based on their earlier written answers. Twelve jurors will be seated for the trial, along with four alternates.


Stevens case prosecutor leaving for private sector

The prosecutor who headed the Justice Department unit that bungled the corruption case against Sen. Ted Stevens is leaving the government.

In court papers filed Monday in a case in Virginia, the department says William Welch is departing for a job in the private sector.

Recently, Mr. Welch has overseen efforts to crack down on officials who leak government secrets. He stepped down as chief of the public integrity section in 2009 amid the controversy over the botched Stevens prosecution. A court-ordered investigation of that case concluded that prosecutors failed to turn over to Stevens’ lawyers some information they had that was favorable to the defense.

Following Stevens’ conviction in 2008, an FBI agent alleged prosecutors had withheld evidence that undercut the testimony of the government’s key witness against the senator. The judge dismissed the conviction at the request of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

A month ago, a special counsel who looked into the Justice Department’s mishandling of the Stevens prosecution found that Mr. Welch directly supervised the conduct of the case only when matters were brought to his attention after controversies arose.

The court-appointed special counsel, Henry Schuelke, said that to Mr. Welch’s credit, on those occasions he directed that disclosure be made to Stevens’ lawyers.

A separate investigation by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility concluded Welch did not commit professional misconduct or exercise poor judgment in the Stevens case. That conclusion was contained in a letter by the office to Mr. Welch’s lawyer, who included it in a response to the Schuelke report.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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