-- House Republicans, wounded by lobbyist scandals, have called
on the House Ethics Committee to investigate more than 10 Democratic
members headed by Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and Nydia Velazquez
of New York.
husband, consumer advocate Robert Creamer, has been indicted in
a check-kiting scheme. The Republicans contend that because she
signed tax returns with him, she should be investigated by the
Ethics Committee. Velazquez is accused of violating House ethics
guidelines by using her congressional office to endorse Judge
Margarita Lopez Torres as Brooklyn Surrogate Court judge.
on the Ethics Committee are no more eager to explore these cases
than Republicans are to investigate their accused colleagues.
The only House committee evenly divided by party, Ethics is currently
Specter, an unyielding Republican advocate of abortion rights,
last Monday addressed more than 100 anti-abortion protesters from
his state of Pennsylvania who had just participated in Washington's
33rd annual March for Life.
To the dismay
of pro-life activists, Specter insisted on attending a reception
for the marchers at the Capitol Hill Club. Before Specter arrived,
he was lavishly praised by Pennsylvania's anti-abortion Republican
Sen. Rick Santorum. Specter's performance as Senate Judiciary
Committee chairman, said Santorum, "was wonderful and very,
very key to Judge [Samuel] Alito's confirmation" for the
facing a tough re-election challenge, was criticized by his conservative
base when he supported Specter's renomination in 2004. Pro-lifers
at the reception did not object to Santorum's remarks, but several
left the room when Specter began to speak. Specter declared he
would not be there as a U.S. senator were it not for Santorum.
Republican mayors, in a closed-door White House meeting last week,
nearly unanimously supported the U.S. Supreme Court's Kelo
decision permitting local governments to force property owners
to sell or give way to private developers.
mayors, in Washington for the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter
meeting, heard a report on the Kelo decision by Dearborn,
Mich., Mayor Michael A. Guido. Chairman of the conference's advisory
board, Guido opposed undermining the Supreme Court's ruling.
Calif., Mayor Curt Pringle, a former speaker of the California
Assembly, objected with arguments that reflected widespread Republican
abhorrence of Kelo. Guido insisted the mayors support
local government's authority, and not a single additional mayor
rose in support of Pringle.
union leaders are furious with freshman Democratic Rep. Melissa
Bean of Illinois for telling WMAQ-TV in Chicago Dec. 11 that "I
never made a commitment" to vote against the Central American
Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). They claim she broke her promise
when she voted for the treaty.
Teamsters official, who asked not to be identified, told this
column that on two occasions, Bean promised him she would be against
CAFTA even if a Democrat were elected president in 2004 and asked
her support for it. The union learned she had flipped from the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a major CAFTA backer.
supported by organized labor (including the Teamsters) in 2004
when she defeated Rep. Phil Crane, the House's senior Republican,
in a heavily Republican Chicago suburban district. Unions this
year are withholding support.
National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) last week attacked Ford
Motor Co. for contributing $100,000 to the Rev. Jesse Jackson's
Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Conference in New York Jan. 8-11 shortly
before it announced the layoff of up to 30,000 workers and closure
of 14 plants.