Capital Briefs October 6

PELOSI PAC PAYS HUSBAND’S PALS: Although she voted last year to ban the payment of spouses with political donations, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) had her own political action committee direct nearly $100,000 over the last ten years to the real estate and investment firm run by her husband. According to the Washington Times, the House Speaker’s “PAC to the Future” has sent $99,000 to Financial Leasing Services (FLS) for “rent, utilities, and accounting fees” in the nine years it has been in business. FLS is owned by Paul F. Pelosi, the speaker’s husband. “The payments have quadrupled since Mr. Pelosi took over as treasurer of his wife’s committee in 2007,” reported the Times last week, “FLS is on track to take in $48,000 in payments this year alone — eight times as much as it received annually from 2000 to 2005, when the committee was run by another treasurer.”

Barack Obama apparently gained from the debate over the proposed $700 billion bailout last week, a just-completed Washington Post/ABC News poll showed. According to the survey, Obama now leads John McCain by 50% to 46% among likely voters nationwide. Most significantly, while McCain had been leading among independent voters by 52% to 43% a week before the debate and votes on the financial rescue, the poll now shows the Republican hopeful leading Obama among independents by a slim 48% to 45%. The Post/ABC survey finds that voters trust Obama over McCain on handling the economy by 50% to 43%. But, in dealing with an unexpected crisis, the same poll said voters trust McCain over Obama 50% to 44%.  

CRA UNTOUCHED IN BAILOUT NEGOTIATIONS:  Throughout the debate on the bailout package, one of the changes irate conservatives in Congress kept calling for was watering down or abolishing the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, which many refer to as “financial affirmative action” and point to as a chief cause of the sub-prime mortgage crisis. In discussing her opposition to the bailout with HUMAN EVENTS, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R.-Minn.), for example, said that one of the things that might cause her to change her mind was if “repeal of CRA” was included in the final package. When Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto briefed reporters on the modified bill that included extending tax credits and relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), HUMAN EVENTS Political Editor John Gizzi asked if there had been any discussion of amending or repealing CRA. “I’m not aware of that,” replied Fratto. Pressed by Gizzi as to whether CRA revision had even come up, Fratto said: “I don’t know if it came up or not.”  
STEVENS HANGING IN:  As his trial in Washington, D.C., for not properly reporting various gifts continues, Sen. Ted Stevens (R.-Alaska) has yet to show any signs that he is going down in his bid for re-election next month. According to a just-completed Rasmussen Poll, the 84-year-old Stevens trails Democratic opponent and Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich by only 48% to 46% statewide, while a Moore Information Poll shows Stevens leading Begich by 46% to 44%. The trial, in which the longest-serving (40 years) Republican senator in history is charged with hiding more than $250,000 in gifts and renovations to his home, is expected to conclude before the November voting.  

:  Ohio Republicans were stunned last week when the U.S. Court of Appeals denied its request for an injunction to stop Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner from ordering county boards of elections to permit registration and voting on the same day from September 30 to October 6. Led by State Party Chairman Bob Bennett, Buckeye State GOPers had argued that since state law requires voters to be registered for 30 days before casting a ballot, Brunner’s orders were clearly illegal. But, in striking down the Republican motion to segregate the ballots of newly registered voters from other ballots until new registrants are proven eligible, a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a U.S. District Court should have first considered the question before Republicans turned to the appellate court. In denouncing the decisions of “Jennifer Brunner and the liberal courts,” Bennett also charged that Brunner “claims to be an advocate for openness and transparency, yet her actions to ban observers from voting locations clearly communicate a different agenda.”