UPI's Capital Comment for April 17, 2002

By United Press International  |  April 17, 2002 at 1:33 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 17 (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.

Next up! -- As Capital Comment predicted last week, Kansas Attorney General Carla Stovall has withdrawn from the Republican gubernatorial primary leaving state Treasurer Tim Shallenburger the acknowledged frontrunner, Wichita Mayor Bob Knight, the dark horse candidate, and a gaping political hole behind.

Stovall was the anointed candidate of the GOP's moderate wing led by retiring Gov. Bill Graves. Now the moderates must find a replacement for Stovall or concede the primary to Shallenburger, something they are loath to do.

The current short list consists of House Speaker Kent Glasscock, who was running for lieutenant governor with Stovall; current Lt. Gov. Gary Sherrer, who has never won electoral office on his own; David Adkins, who is currently running for attorney general but would, by switching races, create a problem for the moderates in the AG's race; and GOP Chairman Mark Parkinson, a former state senator who keeps saying he doesn't want to run. Of course, the dream-come-true scenario for the moderates would be to get former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole into the race.

Dole would be a slam-dunk in both the primary and general elections but, at age 79, he is unlikely to want to commute between the state capital of Topeka, Kan.; Washington, where he currently lives; and North Carolina, which stands a very good chance of electing his wife Elizabeth as its senator this fall.

Is it in the genes? -- Oregon Superintendent of Public Instruction Stan Bunn is in hot water with the state's ethics commission once again, according to a story in Tuesday's Portland Oregonian.

On Friday, the panel voted to investigate whether the Oregon Republican violated state laws when he accepted a free trip to California for his daughter.

"The state Government Standards and Practices Commission has held that family members of public officials are not allowed to accept free lodging, travel or food when accompanying officials on public business. Bunn took his adult daughter, Kristine Bunn, to an annual education awards conference in California in 1999," the paper says.

Earlier in the year, the commission found that Bunn had made illegal and personal use of state phones and cars, a finding he is challenging while seeking re-election.

On Friday, Bunn told the ethics panel he believed the law in question clearly permitted relatives to accept reimbursement for trips and had been told his predecessor, Republican Norma Paulus, had been allowed to take her husband to similar events for free.

Bunn's brother, Jim, was elected to Congress in 1994 and lost his 1996 re-election bid after he divorced his wife in order to marry his 31-year-old chief of staff, whose salary of $93,500 made her the highest paid staffer in Oregon's congressional delegation.

A tangled Web was weaved -- Senate Republicans thought their idea of creating a Web site to highlight how slowly the body's business has moved under the reign of Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., was cute and clever. What they didn't realize was that it was also against the rules.

The site, at disappointed.senate.gov, was named in honor of Daschle's oft-repeated expression of how "disappointed" he is by GOP partisanship. Unfortunately for the Republicans, such efforts are considered partisan and Senate rules governing the Internet prohibit the use of their .gov sites for such purposes.

ANWR may not hurt, but it won't help -- Former CIA Director James Woolsey joined the chorus of those who oppose oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge at a press conference Monday sponsored by The Wilderness Society.

"The bottom line is that we'll be dependent on the Middle East as long as we are dependent on oil," Woolsey, who was America's top spy from 1993 to 1995, said. "Drilling in ANWR is not a recipe for America's national security. The only answer is to use substantially less petroleum."

According to Woolsey, increased reliance on Alaskan oil could increase America's energy vulnerability. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline, Woolsey said, "Was shut down last fall by a drunk who shot one bullet, it has been sabotaged and incompetently bombed twice, and these people are children compared with the sophistication of people who attacked us Sept. 11."

Gas-guzzling enviros -- Supporters of the president's energy policy were also busy on Tuesday. The Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy launched an attack on ANWR drilling opponents, calling them "little more than a public relations and fundraising tool for Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., and many "environmental" organizations."

The group is trying to call attention to what they say is "Startling video footage from an anti-ANWR, pro-energy conservation rally" at which Kerry and others spoke out against ANWR drilling and in favor of greater reliance on energy efficiency and alternative fuel sources.

"However," CREA President Italia Federici said, "the behind the scenes reality was very different than the message being delivered. It's unconscionable for Senator John Kerry to stand on stage and tell the American public to accept higher gasoline prices, forego energy stability and to hold Congress to his standard of environmental integrity, while behind the scenes, he and his friends arrive in chauffeur-driven SUV's and limousines." The group has posted footage supporting their allegation on its Web site at Crea-online.org.

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