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UPI's Capital Comment for Jan. 29, 2002

By United Press International

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 (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.


Sullivan's travels -- Andrew Sullivan, the iconoclastic conservative who once edited The New Republic, is raising cane over the relationship between Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol and Enron, the now spectacularly bankrupt energy company.

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In a recent piece in his AndrewSullivan Web site, Sullivan quotes at length from a Kristol-authored piece that appeared in the Sept. 27, 2000, New York Times.

Sullivan quotes Kristol saying, "Conventional wisdom in Washington, especially conservative conventional wisdom, is that campaign finance reform doesn't matter as an issue ... Is it too much to ask our fellow Republicans and conservatives to rethink their self-defeating defense of the current corrupt campaign finance system?"

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The piece, on what Sullivan calls "the doleful influence of large amounts of corporate money in politics," was written while Kristol was on the Enron payroll to the tune of $100,000 -- a fact the Weekly Standard editor has only recently acknowledged.


Rainy days and Mondays... -- The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-wing group that studies government spending and tax policy, is about to release new proposals on ways states can address the budget problems they currently face.

In the first, the Center demonstrates how "decoupling state estate taxes from the new federal law -- a move already underway in Rhode Island, Minnesota and Wisconsin -- could prevent state revenue losses of at least $19 billion through state fiscal year 2007." The second report -- dealing with so-called "Rainy Day Funds" -- includes an update on the amount states hold in such funds, what actions are under way or contemplated to draw on them, and the likely cuts that would be forced if states unduly limit use of the funds to meet budget gaps.


Going for a congressional seat -- West Virginia politics, never known for its subtlety, got a touch more out of hand last week. At a news conference held in the state Capitol by the Democrats, one candidate vying for the right to challenge Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., in the fall accused the other of having pinched her fanny.

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Margaret Workman, a former state Supreme Court judge, reportedly had sharp words for former state Sen. Jim Humphreys after the event, according to the Charleston Daily Mail, one of West Virginia's largest papers.

According to the Daily Mail's Karin Fischer, "Workman called Humphreys' behavior 'offensive' and 'demeaning' while (Humphreys) says she misinterpreted an innocent gesture." Humphreys explains he was only trying to nudge Workman forward in order to give others at the news conference more room.

In November 2000, Humphreys was defeated by Capito in an extremely close race.


Birthday blues -- Georgia Republicans are accusing Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat, of being cold-hearted after his refusal to issue a state proclamation declaring Feb. 6 "Ronald Reagan Day."

Barnes' office says it is simply a matter of the state GOP not playing by the rules that govern the issuance of such proclamations, but the GOP isn't buying it.

David Kralik, spokesman for the Reagan Legacy Project, says Barnes could have issued a proclamation consistent with the rules if he had wanted to, pointing out that two-dozen governors -- including the Democrats in South Carolina and Hawaii -- have made such declarations in the past. "Other states have gotten around bans for individuals by honoring Reagan's presidency or the day of his birth," Kralik said. "If they really wanted to do it, they could."

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