John McCaslin

Just before he retired in 2006 after serving more than three decades in Congress, conservative Republican Rep. Henry J. Hyde of Illinois, former chairman of the House International Relations Committee who died yesterday at 83, surprised political observers when implying in a speech that America faced long-term consequences because of Bush administration policies in the Middle East.

"It is a truism that power breeds arrogance," Mr. Hyde began. "For individuals and countries alike, power inevitably distorts perceptions of the world by insulating them in a soothing cocoon that is impervious to what scientists term 'disconfirming evidence.' "

The congressman explained that "by becoming deaf to easily discerned warning signs, we may ignore long-term costs that result from our actions and dismiss reverses that should lead to a re-examination of our goals and means."

Twice losers

The Media Fund (TMF), a tax-exempt campaign organization that targeted President Bush for defeat and John Kerry for victory in 2004, has been fined $580,000 for violating federal campaign laws, the seventh-largest civil penalty in Federal Election Commission (FEC) history.

The FEC says the organization failed to register and file disclosure reports as a federal political committee and knowingly accepted contributions in violation of federal limits and source prohibitions.

From its inception through 2004, TMF raised more than $59 million, more than $55 million of which came from labor organizations or corporations prohibited from contributing to political committees, or from individuals who gave in amounts that exceeded the $5,000 limit established for contributions to political committees, according to the FEC.

"Most of the solicitations targeted the defeat of George W. Bush, and some of the solicitations targeted the election of John Kerry," the FEC states, adding that TMF spent more than $54 million on 37 television advertisements, 24 radio advertisements, nine newspaper advertisements and 20 mailers that referenced "President George Bush" or "Senator John Kerry" in the context of the 2004 presidential election.

"A TMF mailer on education contained express advocacy, referring to the 'need' for a particular kind of president, followed by identification of John Kerry as that type of candidate," the FEC says. "Other TMF mailers contained express advocacy because the advertisements attacked the character, qualifications and fitness for office of George Bush, or supported the character, qualifications and fitness for office of John Kerry ...

"The commission concluded that TMF's statements and activities demonstrate that its major purpose was to elect John Kerry and defeat George Bush."

D.C. for Hillary

Inside the Beltway has examined the most recent presidential campaign contributions reported to the Federal Election Commission and found that the majority-Democratic nation's capital overwhelmingly backs former first-lady-turned-New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to become the next president.

Of the $8.9 million contributed by D.C. residents to the various candidates thus far in the 2008 presidential campaign, $7.4 million has gone to Democratic coffers, and, of that, nearly $3.7 million into Mrs. Clinton's campaign accounts. Sen. Barack Obama, of Illinois, has received nearly $2.7 million of the total.

Meanwhile, whereas Republicans are scarce in the District, Republican White House hopefuls secured almost $1.5 million in contributions from District residents, of which $514,000 went to Arizona Sen. John McCain, $392,000 to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and $357,000 to former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Governor vs. governor

Across the Potomac River, former Virginia governor and now U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Mark Warner was spotted with campaign supporters Wednesday night at Old Town Alexandria's Stardust Restaurant.

We'd asked Democratic National Committee chairman-turned-Hillary Rodham Clinton presidential campaign manager Terry McAuliffe this week whether he would be making campaign appearances for Mr. Warner in Virginia during the course of the campaign, and he replied confidently: "Mark doesn't need my help, he'll do fine."

Meanwhile, Inside the Beltway has word that former Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III, Mr. Warner's Republican opponent for the seat being vacated by Virginia Republican Sen. John W. Warner, will kick off his Senate candidacy on Wednesday at the Richmond Omni.

He'll hold a second campaign kick-off at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington the next day.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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