UPI's Capital Comment for July 9, 2002

By United Press International  |  July 9, 2002 at 2:15 PM
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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.

Harken back to the good ole days -- Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., the majority leader of the Senate, wants the case file for a 1991 Securities and Exchange Commission investigation involving a company tied to George W. Bush made public.

The inquiry into allegations of insider trading, as described by the Financial Times on Monday, looked into, "Mr. Bush's sale of 212,140 shares in Houston-based oil group Harken Energy for $849,000, just two months before Harken announced a $23.2 million quarterly loss. Mr. Bush was a member of Harken's board at the time of the sale, which occurred before he became Texas governor." Bush was not charged as a result of the inquiry, which found, according to documents unearthed by the ethics watchdog group Center for Public Integrity, that Bush did not possess sufficient information about Harken's losses to have traded improperly. Maneuvering for partisan advantage in the unfolding corporate confidence crisis, Daschle said on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday that the president should authorize the SEC to release the file and "let everybody see just what is there." White House spokesman Ari Fleischer has acknowledged that some paperwork involving the sale was filed late but he placed the blame for that squarely on the shoulders of attorneys working for Harken.

Healthy kids are happy kids -- On Friday, the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics will release their year 2002 report on key national indicators of child well-being. The report, a collaborative effort among the various federal agencies that issue statistics on the nation's children, looks at health, behavior, social environment, and education issues. The 2002 document is expected to report that the infant mortality rate fell significantly, the teen birth rate has dropped to the lowest level on record, and that the percentage of children who are read to every day by a parent has increased, among other observations.

And the award goes to... -- First lady Laura Bush is scheduled to present the National Endowment for Democracy's Annual Democracy Award to four women activists from the Muslim world on Tuesday. The ceremony, which will take place on Capitol Hill, will honor the pro-democratic work of Algerian Nadjet Bouda; Iranian Mehrangiz Kar; Somalian Mariam Hussein; and Uzbekistani Muborak Tashpoulatova. "It is a critical time to emphasize to Western audiences the existence and commitment of democratic voices in all parts of the Muslim world, and the need to respond to them," NED Chairman Vin Weber said. "In choosing this year's award recipients, the NED board of directors seeks to recognize the courageous and innovative work being done by Muslim women throughout the world on behalf of democracy and human rights."

Simon says "we're ahead" -- A new poll of 600 likely California voters conducted by the GOP-leaning firm Public Opinion Strategies shows Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon "maintaining a commanding 39 percent to 31 percent lead" over Democrat Gray Davis. According to a briefing provided by Simon consultants, the poll indicates that Davis may be losing support to Green Party candidate Peter Camejo, who was the choice of 5 percent of those responding to the survey. The poll also shows, according to the briefing, that "Women support Simon over Davis by 37 percent to 33 percent" and "Men support Simon by 41 percent to 29 percent." In another California gubernatorial development, Monty Holden, the head of the California Organization of Police and Sheriffs, has been bounced off the state's Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission now that his term has expired. Holden has been the target of Davis political consultant Garry South's wrath since he endorsed the Republican Simon for governor back in March and Sacramento insiders say the decision not to reappointment is just old-fashioned political payback.

Fields of glory -- It is generally believed that Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is an almost sure bet for re-election -- until last week. Former U.S Rep. Cleo Fields, D-La., has started hinting that he may join the race if another Democrat whom he can support does not. There is no love lost between Fields and Landrieu since she failed to support Fields, who now serves in the state senate, in his race for governor in 1995. Because of the unusual manner in which federal officials are elected in the state -- everyone runs on the same ballot on Election Day and, if no one gets more that 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote getters contest in a run off -- every time a new candidate joins the field, the less likely Landrieu's chances to win on Election Day become. In addition to Landrieu, U.S. Rep. John Cooksey, R-La., and GOP state Rep. Tony Perkins are already in the race with at least one other Republican expected to file.

Gore gone? -- A new poll from Mason-Dixon conducted for a consortium of Tennessee newspapers shows that 47 percent of those surveyed are opposed to Al Gore making another run for president. The poll of 632 likely voters found only 38 percent of respondents wanted Gore to run again while 72 percent said George W. Bush was doing a good or excellent job as president.

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