The committee was scheduled Wednesday to confirm Leavitt, but it could not meet when no Democrats showed up. Energy industry sources have been informed that Senate Democratic Leader Thomas Daschle wants President Bush to put Leavitt in office through a recess appointment, once Congress adjourns -- thereby continuing through 2004 a debate that Democrats believe benefits them. Leavitt has indicated he would rather drop out than accept a recess appointment.
Holds on the Leavitt nomination have been indicated by three presidential candidates -- Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts, Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and John Edwards of North Carolina -- plus Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.
Federal Express Chairman Frederick W. Smith, who owns a minority stake in the Washington Redskins football team, held a political fund-raiser in the FedEx Suite at the owner's club level during last Sunday's game against the New England Patriots.
Washington lobbyists were solicited by Smith to contribute on behalf of his fellow Tennessean, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. The requested contribution of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for political action committees would go to Frist's VOLPAC Leadership Fund, which mainly distributes money to Republican candidates around the country.
A footnote: Smith generally contributes to Republican candidates but only infrequently. He has recently given money to President Bush and Republican Sens. Frist, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and John McCain of Arizona. He contributed in 1997 and 2002 to Democratic Sen. Ernest F. Hollings of South Carolina, who has announced he will not seek re-election next year.