UPI's Capital Comment for Oct. 4, 2002

Oct. 4, 2002 at 5:21 AM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 (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.

Tarheeled and feathered -- In spite of the Democrat's best efforts to make the corporate accountability scandals all about the other party, their own people keep getting caught up in them as well. The latest is former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, currently the Democrat's candidate for U.S. Senate in North Carolina and now a target of an ongoing lawsuit filed by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. The suit is an attempt to recover more than $120 million in lost state pension funds from a firm in which Bowles was a general partner.

Originally filed in February, Connecticut is accusing the New York investment firm of Forstmann Little of making investments not permitted under its contract with them.

According to Blumenthal, a fellow Democrat, the state lost $31.4 million in state pension funds as the result of a deal with McLeodUSA, an Iowa telecommunications company on whose board Bowles sat from 1999 to 2001 -- at the same time he was a general partner at Forstmann Little. McLeodUSA filed for bankruptcy in January and has since re-emerged. On Sept. 23, Blumenthal amended the suit to add Bowles' name based on what he said was new evidence linking him to the deal. The Bowles campaign would not comment on the lawsuit.

Just whose side are you on? -- Nancy Jane Woodside, the Democrat candidate for Congress in Utah's 3rd Congressional District, probably isn't getting much support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. It isn't that her opponent, three-term incumbent Republican Rep. Chris Cannon has a lock on the district; rather, it is Woodside's contention that she would, if elected, vote for Republican Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., to be speaker of the House instead of current Democrat leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo. Her supporters are using her statement to argue that voting for this particular Democrat won't jeopardize Republican efforts to maintain control of the House -- something that might be a plus in a district George W. Bush carried in 2000 by 72 percent to 23 percent for Al Gore. Current polls show Woodside running 35 points behind Cannon.

Mi amigo, su amigo -- President George W. Bush took a moment to plug one of his pending judicial nominees Thursday morning as he met with Hispanic leaders in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. After identifying the Hispanic elected officials, executive branch staff and candidates in the group, Bush said, "I would spend all my time heralding those of you in the legislative branch or in the executive branch, but I've got some other things on my mind."

The president told the group, "I also want to make sure there is diversity in the judicial branch. I have named a really good man to the bench, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, named Miguel Estrada. And I expect the United States Senate to treat this man with respect. I don't want to see the same thing that happened to some of my other candidates, in that they distort his record. I don't want them to distort his record like they did Ms. Owen's or Mr. Pickering. For the sake of a good, strong federal bench, for the sake of recognizing this man's intelligence and his capabilities, the Senate needs to confirm Miguel Estrada." Both Judges Priscilla Owens and Charles Pickering were not confirmed by the Senate after acrimonious hearings.

Estrada has been endorsed by most of the major American Hispanic organizations but has met with stiff resistance from the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, most notably Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Chaos theory -- A random -- and therefore unscientific -- survey of New Jersey residents found they overwhelmingly disapprove of the New Jersey Supreme Court's decision to allow former Sen. Frank Lautenberg to replace retiring Sen. Robert Torricelli on the November ballot. Election Research surveyed 2,993 Garden Stators Wednesday evening between 4:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

"It's often been said that we're a nation of laws and not of people," Election Research President Gabriel Joseph said. The survey found that 54 percent of New Jersey respondents disapprove of the court's decision and that 53 percent would vote for Republican Doug Forrester as a way to register that disapproval. "It is obvious that with only 34 days left in the election, this 'replacement candidate' issue will be a major factor throughout the remaining days of the campaign," Joseph said. While unscientific and of specious value, the results nevertheless reflect a suspicion that exists in both camps that the effort to swap Lautenberg for Torricelli may not be an easy one.

Results from this survey reflect only the opinions of those responding during the three-hour time frame in which the survey was conducted with 20,000-random numbers out of a household pool representing the entire state having been selected and called. Election Research is a privately held company that has developed Interactive Voice Response technology on outbound calls using pre-recorded messages.

Personnel notes -- Dow Chemical has named Janet Boyd director of government relations in its Washington, D.C., office. Boyd, who lobbied for American Airlines, Bear, Stearns & Co., and AOL Time Warner among clients while at the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, began her career in Washington as an aid to former U.S. Rep. Kika de la Garza, D-Texas ... M.B. Oglesby, most recently chief of staff to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, has become the new vice-chairman of the lobbying firm BKSH & Associates, part of the public relations giant Burson-Marsteller.

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