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Paula Jones harassment was abuse of powerThe...

Paula Jones harassment was abuse of power

The facts alleged by Paula Jones, if true, make her case quite different from the run of the mill sexual harassment case. Her case is about abuse of power, most obnoxiously manifested.

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The alleged sexual harassment of Paula Jones occurred while Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas, Ms. Jones was a state employee and a state policeman was the instrument chosen by Mr. Clinton to summon, or at least escort, her to his hotel room.

Those writers and syndicated columnists (e.g., Ellen Goodman, Opinion Commentary, Jan. 16) who would minimize the Paula Jones case against Bill Clinton consistently minimize the allegations that the most powerful man in Arkansas sent a state trooper to bring a female state employee to his hotel room that evening.

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They were alone in the room while the police officer stood guard. Who cares how long she waited to formally complain and the circumstances under which she finally came forward?

H. Richard Piet

Catonsville

Maryland never wanted to secede

Your Jan. 4 article on the Confederate symbol that appears in the Maryland flag quotes a former assistant state archivist who said, "Maryland was inclined very strongly to secede, and federal authorities had to hold the state on a very tight leash."

The contention that Maryland lay on the precipice of secession at the outbreak of the Civil War, while popular, is mistaken.

Letters, diaries, pamphlets and newspapers of the period reveal much Maryland sentiment that favored the Union. Many Marylanders certainly believed in a right to secede, and they opposed Northern coercion against the Southern states that seceded in late 1860 and early 1861. Such beliefs, however, rarely stretched to embrace a Maryland secession.

Gov. Thomas Hicks, Baltimore Mayor George Brown (elected in 1857 and 1860, respectively) and a majority of elected legislators in the state were avowed Unionists. Fifty-six percent of Marylanders in 1860 spread their votes for president among the three candidates who espoused the Union (John Bell, Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln).

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In late 1860, 90 percent of Baltimore's businessmen, seeing economic suicide in secession, publicly urged the state to remain in the Union.

There was not one outspoken proponent of Maryland secession during the crucial winter and spring of 1860-61. The state legislature, meeting in April 1861, did not even vote on a secession ordinance. Augustus Bradford, an outspoken Unionist, was elected governor in 1861.

All but Bradford's election occurred before the Union army occupied Baltimore and President Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, though Bradford was elected freely. And Marylanders who fought for the Confederacy numbered less than one-third of those who wore Union blue.

Sympathy for the goals of the South, including the rights to slave ownership and secession from the United States, and opposition to Lincoln's policies must not be interpreted as support for a Maryland secession that never came close to reality.

Charles W. Mitchell

Lutherville

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Sauerbrey shows she's savvy

In her selection of Anne Arundel County Executive John Gary for a prominent role in her 1998 campaign for governor, Ellen Sauerbrey has once again proven herself more skillful than most of her detractors and more savvy than many of her supporters.

Moving to consolidate support within a broadly based Maryland Republican Party and signaling a desire to include moderates and traditional conservatives as well as populists, she demonstrates qualities needed to win and, ultimately, to govern.

Anthony Cobb

Baltimore

Neall's ethical lapse is just wrong for GOP

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Here's one issue where good government minded liberals and conservatives agree: Robert Neall's return to lobbying while serving as a state senator is absolutely unethical.

Yet everyone seems to see this conflict but Mr. Neall and establishment leaders. Mr. Neall boo-hoos that he needs a job in a part-time legislature, yet he is the first legislator on record since registration has been required to choose this peculiar line of supplementary income.

In the various Sun articles exposing this debacle, no one from the establishment would criticize Mr. Neall. The chair of the Republican Party, Joyce Tehres, and other establishment officials were described as rallying around him.

Ethics in government should be the number one issue for the head of our party.

Many Republicans were disturbed when Mr. Neall was appointed to the Senate seat last month and foresaw problems, given his past actions. We were not surprised to hear he quietly re-registered as a lobbyist on Dec. 31 after he canceled his registration on Dec. 12.

We were suspicious as to why he would give up a lucrative lobbying business to become a citizen-legislator. Now we see he has chosen the best of both worlds for himself and his clients.

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The Sun and Common Cause are to be commended for taking a principled stand on this most important issue.

Daniel J. Earnshaw

Havre de Grace

Campaign funding regulation needed

Peter Jay (column, Jan. 19) offers a simple solution to the problem of political campaigns awash with money: Repeal all existing limits to campaign contributions, but make sure that everyone's contribution is promptly and publicly recorded.

His reasoning is that the sunshine of disclosure, provided it comes quickly, can cure just about any corruption money can buy. To illustrate, Mr. Jay supposes that a really big-bucks contribution could ruin a candidate provided the voters learned about it before the polls closed.

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Not so: The repeal of all campaign contribution limits would hasten the day when "public servant" is replaced by "--'s servant."

Here's why. First of all, contributions often don't go directly to candidates.

In the 1992 and 1996 elections, unlimited amounts went to political parties, committees and foundations and only from there, without obvious footprints, to candidates.

Remove limits and you will likely increase the incentive for contributions to go the route where no recipient is named.

It's also not necessarily so that voters revolt against candidates whom they suspect are up for sale. As it stands, some measure of who has given what to whom is already available, yet it's hard to point to candidates who were defeated by their campaign contributions.

It is, however, easy to find the contrary: Officials who are re-elected despite some public knowledge of where their campaign money came from.

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Take the example of Rep. Bud Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, much of Mr. Shuster's million-plus dollars in contributions received during the 1996 election cycle came from donors with a stake in the $150 billion transportation bill pending before his committee.

The fact is that this pattern of support has been known for some time, yet the voters regularly return him to office.

Would such abuses change with Mr. Jay's reform? Not likely.

More likely, unlimited contributions, even if instantaneously reported, would lead to unlimited mischief.

Samuel H. Boyer

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Annapolis

The writer is president of Common Cause of Maryland.

Pub Date: 1/27/97


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