February 25, 2006
Inside Report

By Robert Novak


CATHOLICS FOR ROMNEY

WASHINGTON -- A prominent anti-abortion Catholic legislator in New Hampshire on Feb. 17 sent a "confidential invitation for addressee only" to a 3 p.m. meeting with Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney March 17 at the Upham-Walker House in Concord, N.H.

Republican State Rep. Maureen C. Mooney said the meeting would be "private" and "closed to the press." She added Romney would answer questions from a "small group of conservatives."

Mooney's invitation stressed that the meeting was not "an endorsement of any kind on my behalf or the N.H. GOP." Romney, a possible candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, lost ground with Catholic pro-lifers when he said he would enforce a law requiring that the morning-after pill be made available at Catholic hospitals throughout Massachusetts.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GEORGE

Although members of Congress are keeping an arm's length from lobbyists, Sen. George Allen -- a possible Republican presidential hopeful -- will be celebrating his 54th birthday the evening of March 8 at a Capitol Hill fund-raising party hosted by Washington lobbyists.

Scott Corley, a registered lobbyist for Microsoft, and Frank Cavaliere, Vonage's vice president for federal regulatory affairs, sent out a letter to fellow lobbyists asking $1,000 per political action committee or individual. Also listed as hosts were lobbyists for Clear Channel Communications, BWX Technologies, AT&T, VeriSign, the National Federation of Independent Business, the National Association of Broadcasters and the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association.

Sponsors and hosts alone are expected to produce over $50,000 for "Friends of George Allen," and other guests would provide more. This money could be used for either Allen's 2006 re-election effort in Virginia or a presidential campaign in 2008.

STINGING SOROS

Left-wing billionaire George Soros, who has used a loophole in campaign finance laws to smash George W. Bush and Tom DeLay, is getting a taste of his own medicine in Rep. DeLay's home base of Houston.

The Free Enterprise Committee, a so-called 527 organization that escapes federal scrutiny, is running an ad in Houston that links Soros to the attacks on DeLay. It depicts Soros in black while DeLay is seen bathed in sunshine and in full color.

"George Soros, full of money and liberal ideas -- like legalizing drugs, letting felons vote and keeping the death tax," begins the ad. It continues: "He also bankrolled the liberals linked to attacks on Tom DeLay. So, when you see attacks on Tom DeLay, consider the source."

SCALPING FOR POLITICS

Rep. Thomas Reynolds, a key member of the House Republican leadership, is soliciting political contributions by in effect scalping tickets for NCAA "Sweet Sixteen" games at Washington's sold-out MCI Center for more than 30 times face value.

Reynolds is soliciting $2,000 a person to provide tickets for the March 24 tournament session that are sold by the NCAA for $65 apiece. "Tickets are very limited," says the letter of invitation, "so please RSVP as soon as possible."

Although Reynolds is chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the basketball money will fund TOMPAC, Reynolds's leadership political action committee that he uses to make contributions to selected candidates.

LOST DEMOCRATIC CHANCE

Democrats may have lost their best chance to retain the Ohio 6th congressional district in the eastern part of the state when state Sen. Charlie Wilson, the party's only serious candidate for the seat, failed to meet the minimum ballot requirement of only 50 valid signatures on his petitions.

Wilson submitted just 96 signatures, many of them invalid because they were from voters from outside the district. Democratic Rep. Ted Strickland, who is running for governor this year, was elected without opposition in 2004. The two Democrats who managed to get on the ballot are not considered viable candidates. Wilson still will attempt running for the nomination on a write-in.

A footnote: Although Ohio is considered a Republican disaster area for 2006, no serious Democratic challenger has emerged against Rep. Bob Ney, despite his being linked to the lobbyist scandals.

Copyright 2006 Creators Syndicate

Robert Novak

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