AllPolitics - News Briefs

Apology Accepted

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, July 23) -- White House press secretary Mike McCurry promptly apologized today to Washington Post editor Bob Woodward after saying he'd had the "thankless task" of "baby sitting" the best-selling author during interviews for Woodward's book "The Choice." "One does not baby sit a distinguished journalist like Mr. Woodward," McCurry allowed. Woodward, who called for an apology yesterdy, accepted it today. "For a press secretary to have the fundamental attitude apparently that he is a baby sitter for a reporter . . . McCurry either ought to apologize or seek other work," Woodward said Monday.

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Well, Maybe Some Laws Shouldn't Apply To Us After All


NEW YORK (AllPolitics, July 23) -- Republicans on the Capitol Hill are rethinking a law they passed last year allowing workers at the Capitol to unionize, according to reports in The New York Times. House and Senate leaders are trying to exempt some 15,000 "confidential" employees -- everyone from top aides to secretaries -- from the law before it goes into effect Oct. 1, the newspaper said. Deputies to House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said allowing these workers to unionize could weaken the loyalties between aides and lawmakers. Unions would also have access to confidential "strategies" Congress uses when considering labor rules, and unfair-labor-practice complaints could bog down Congress, said the GOP aides said. The law, passed almost unanimously in January 1995, grew out of GOP insistence that Congress should live under the same federal regulations as private sector businesses.

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White House Won't Disclose Database Names

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, July 22) -- Under fire from Republicans for maintaining a database containing information on more than 200,000 legislators, contributors, journalists and White House guests, the Clinton administration has agreed to notify those individuals but refused to give a House committee a copy of the list. No fair, says Rep. David McIntosh (R-Ind), chair of the House subcommittee investigating the matter. "If they have nothing to hide, then they should release the entire database," he said. McIntosh said it might be illegal for the White House to use public funds to keep files to track donors, though the White House said that's not the purpose. The only entries maintained, says the White House, are addresses, phone numbers, party affiliations, contributions to President Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign and whether they support Clinton's policies. The database has cost $545,000 so far.

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Gifts To McDade Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

PHILADELPHIA (AllPolitics, July 23) -- Rep. Joseph McDade (R-Penn) told a jury Monday he was unaware of receiving illegal gifts. Prosecutors allege McDade accepted $100,000 in gifts from defense contractors and lobbyists in return for helping award them $68 million in federal contracts. McDade said his staff filled out financial disclosure forms and reported gifts, so he did not know whether any contributions made were illegal. And while he tried to follow conflict-of-interest regulations, the 17-term congressman said, it was difficult because the rules kept changing. McDade could face up to 34 years in jail and loss of his House seat if convicted on all counts of conspiracy, accepting gratuities and racketeering.

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Secret Labor-Organized Crime Witness Named

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, July 23) -- The House Judiciary's crime subcommittee is ready to begin hearings linking labor unions to organized crime, but the touted surprise witness is no longer in the closet. Sources told The Associated Press the witness is Ronald Fino, a former Laborer's International Union business agent from Buffalo, N.Y. Fino left the Local 210 in 1989 and became a paid government witness, testifying in at least three federal trials on organized crime. Crime subcommittee Chairman Bill McCollum (R-Fla.) said "a confidential organized crime informant will detail the connection between organized crime," the union, and its president, Arthur Coia. Union leaders dismiss the GOP congressional probe as a response to labor's funding a $35-million ad campaign supporting Democrats this November.

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Charges Against Packwood Laid To Rest


PORTLAND, Ore. (AllPolitics, July 23) -- Investigators have closed the case on the remaining allegations against former Sen. Bob Packwood (R-Oregon), deciding not to prosecute Packwood for obstructing congressional investigations by allegedly altering his diary. The obstruction charge was the last of the charges that lead to Packwood's resignation from the Senate last September. Betty Roberts, a leader of the effort to remove Packwood from office, is pleased with the decision not to prosecute. "What's the point now? Everything's been done," she said. "Why go through all that expense of more investigation and a trial?"

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Whitewater Defense Wraps Up

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AllPolitics, July 23) -- The defense wrapped up its case today in the second Whitewater trial of Arkansas bankers Herby Branscum Jr. and Robert Hill, political supporters of President Bill Clinton charged with misapplying their bank's funds for political donations to Clinton's 1990 gubernatorial campaign. Closing arguments are expected Thursday, and the jury could begin deliberations that afternoon. Earlier today, prosecutors introduced a 1986 memo linking campaign contributions to then-Gov. Clinton's campaign with the appointment of Hill to the Arkansas Banking Board. The 1986 memo is similar to a 1990 Clinton staff memo saying Hill wanted to deliver campaign contributions and discuss the appointment of his partner, defendant Herby Branscum, Jr., to the State Highway Commission. Both Hill and Clinton denied there was any quid pro quo of campaign dollars for state posts.

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Myers Takes The Stand

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, July 23) -- Former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers testified today before a federal grand jury about the White House travel office firings. Myers' testimony, given behind closed doors, was her first appearance before the panel looking into the dismissal of the seven employees. Myers had announced the firings at a May 19, 1993 briefing on the condition that she not be quoted, saying the FBI was investigating the office. The White House accused the travel office employees of mismanaging finances, but critics say the firings were instances of Clinton cronyism.


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