WASHINGTON, March 14 (UPI) -- Capital Comment -- Daily news notes, political rumors, and important events that shape politics and public policy in Washington and the world from United Press International.
The where you stand depends award goes to ... Lawrence Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. In a letter to National Review, a conservative weekly, Noble takes Federal Election Commission member Bradley A. Smith to task for an article he authored that "implies that we are in favor of the Shays-Meehan bill."
"He is wrong," Noble writes. "CRP neither supports nor opposes this legislation. Rather, we provide our analysis, numbers and expertise to the press, as well as to groups and individuals (including members of Congress) who both support and oppose Shays-Meehan. ... We prefer to point out what we think the legislation will and will not do and let others draw their own conclusions."
This, of course, is the same Lawrence Noble who, while general counsel at the FEC, brought enforcement actions against many non-profit organizations, mainly conservative, for distributing voters guides to potential supporters and opponents of political candidates, identifying positions those candidates and officeholders had taken on important public policy issues. In fact, many of the groups said much the same thing about their own dissemination of information to the FEC when Noble was its chief prosecutor as Noble himself says in response to Smith's criticism.
Dalmatians not required -- Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris is being feted Friday at the home of public relations consultant Craig Shirley and his wife, Zorine.
Harris, whose current office ceases to exist next year, is running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Although the state has not finalized its new congressional lines, the seat Harris is seeking is essentially the one being vacated by retiring GOP Rep. Dan Miller. Also on the host committee for the event are such conservative and Republican notables as American Conservative Union Chairman David Keene, former Transportation Secretary Jim Burnley and his wife Wendy, and former Reagan White House staffer Frank Donatelli and his wife, Becky.
During the post-election period, Harris was dubbed a "Republican Cruella DeVil" by some of her detractors. DeVil was the villain in the Disney film 101 Dalmatians but, as far as her supporters are concerned, Harris is the cat's meow.
Deal breaker -- Anti-gun groups are claiming victory in their effort to pressure tax preparation firm H&R Block into abandoning an arrangement it had with the National Rifle Association to provide products and services to NRA members.
According to a release from gunwatchindustry.org, "H&R Block had entered into an agreement with a marketing company called Memberdrive to market its products and services to NRA members. However, the agreement provided for "royalties" paid by H&R Block, through Memberdrive, to the NRA.
"The termination of this agreement is a tremendous victory for everyone who was outraged that a reputable business like H&R Block would support an extremist organization like the NRA," Michael D. Barnes, the former Maryland Democrat congressman who is now president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, united with the Million Mom March.
Friends in odd places -- It was just a couple of days ago that President George Bush observed that he thought the al Qaeda terrorists had developed their opinion of America from watching The Jerry Springer Show, known for its outrageous and sexually-supercharged subject matter. But the president probably never guessed he had fans among the Springer guests.
In a show on "Pregnant Sex Secrets" that aired Wednesday in many markets, an audience member asked a guest who had been impregnated by a married man who was now returning to his wife how she intended to provide for herself and her baby.
"The economy is strong baby," she said. "It's all in the hands of George W. Bush," leading audience members to chant "U.S.A., U.S.A." The White House is likely taking the endorsement with some degree of skepticism.
Strike two -- GOP House leaders are reportedly considering legislation that will impose tougher penalties on sexual predators. The legislation, modeled on the successful "Three strikes, you're out" reform pushed on the state level by conservatives through the initiative process, would impose a mandatory life in prison sentence on anyone convicted a second time of committing a sex crime against a minor on federal property -- including national parks and military bases.
Strange bedfellows -- Although the effort to weaken the term limits on California state legislators went down 58 percent to 42 percent last Tuesday, it wasn't for a lack of creativity on the part of its proponents.
Supporters of Proposition 45 marked their effort to weaken term limits through mailings and recorded phone calls to Republican voters suggesting that the existing term limits would bring Willie Brown, California Assembly speaker from 1980 to 1995, back to power in Sacramento.
Brown, who bedeviled two Republican governors during his tenure, left the legislature because of term limits and was then elected mayor of San Francisco, a job he still holds.
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