UPI's Capital Comment for Jan. 16, 2002

By United Press International  |  Jan. 16, 2002 at 3:33 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Capital Comment -- News notes, political rumors, and important events that shape politics and public policy in Washington and the world from United Press International.

Stepping aside? -- The National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative group, has asked Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., to recuse himself from his committee's forthcoming hearings on the Enron bankruptcy. Lieberman, who chairs the Senate Government Affairs Committee, and political committees affiliated with the year 2000 Democrat vice-presidential nominee, received almost a quarter of a million dollars from businesses involved in the bankruptcy.

Other public officials including Attorney General John Ashcroft have taken themselves out of the Enron case over the perceived conflicts of interest. NLPC President Peter Flaherty writes in the letter to Lieberman, "As you know, the amount that you and committees affiliated with you received from Enron interests, Enron's top creditor -- Citigroup, Inc. -- and Enron's auditor, Arthur Andersen, dwarfed anything received by (the) Attorney General." Ashcroft recused himself after Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., asked questions about Enron support for his unsuccessful campaign for re-election to the Senate in 2000.

Inhofe's numbers not Oakie-dokkie -- The Oklahoma Poll, conducted between Dec. 18 and 29 for the Tulsa World, shows Oklahoma GOP Sen. Jim Inhofe with an 8-point lead over former Democrat Gov. David Waters in a head-to-head match up. Unfortunately for Inhofe, the survey of 752 adults conducted by Consumer Logic has his "re-elect" number -- the percent of voters who say they intend to vote for the incumbent -- at only 44 percent. Politicians will tell you that if an incumbent is supported for re-election in surveys by less than 50 percent of the voters, they are in trouble.

Tiff -- New York Democrats are loudly chortling over efforts by newly installed New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to block Andrew Eristoff from becoming the new Manhattan Republican Party Chairman. Eristoff supported Bloomberg's GOP primary rival Herman Badillo. The Democrats are citing media accounts that say the offices GOP Gov. George Pataki, state Senate GOP Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and state GOP chief Sandy Treadwell are reportedly involved in the blackballing of Eristoff. "The Republican intra-party fighting could cause a blowup in the GOP ranks just as the party faces the potential loss of a Manhattan State Senate seat" according to a weekly round-up sent out by the state's Democrats.

Dissolving the union -- Groups opposed to giving legal sanction to gay relationships are crying "Victory" in round one of the fight against so-called civil unions from being introduced in California. "After pro-family groups organized numerous rallies, phone calls, radio shows, and ads targeting the districts of moderate assemblymen," says the conservative Family Research Council, the bill to legalize civil unions was shelved in the legislature.

Family Research Council President Ken Connor called the development a "victory for California families who sent a clear message two years ago that they want marriage to represent the union of one man and one woman."

Something in common -- Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a liberal group that opposes the practice of religion in the public square, says it supports a consensus report on giving help to those in need through faith-based and other community organizations.

The report, "Finding Common Ground," gives 29 recommendations for meeting human needs. The 54-page document is the result of a months-long discussion by more than 30 representatives of groups that have been involved in the debate over funding "faith-based" social services.

Groups putting together the report include AUCS, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Jewish Committee, People for the American Way, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and Evangelicals for Social Action.

Curve ball -- Art Laffer, creator of the economic curve comparing tax rates and government revenue that bears his name, has joined the faculty of YorktownUniversity.com, America's first on-line university. Laffer's course, Econ103, Supply Side Economics, is designed primarily for adults who want to understand the economic forces that govern their lives.

Personnel note -- Mike Zarelli, a former lobbyist for the city of New York under Mayor Rudy Giuliani, is the new corporate counsel and manager of federal government affairs for Alticor ... The Cato Institute has named David Salisbury as the first director of its new Center for Educational Freedom. Salisbury is the former president of the Sutherland Institute, a free-market think tank focused on Utah public policy issues.

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