WHY DAN BURTON IS GRINNING -- DESPITE THE WEB HUBBELL BROUHAHA
Edited by Douglas Harbrecht
It has been a rough week for Representative Dan Burton, the Indiana Republican who has been accused of doctoring transcripts of prison conversations involving longtime Clinton sidekick Webster Hubbell. Democrats have denounced him as a malicious zealot. And even House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a longtime ally, told a closed-door meeting of Republican lawmakers that Burton's actions had embarrassed the GOP.
But Burton, the embattled chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, may get the last laugh -- at least in November. The reason: Democratic voters on May 5 nominated a 34-year-old convicted felon to be their candidate against Burton on the November ballot. Bob Kern, also known as Bobby Scott Hidalgo, was convicted in 1994 of theft, forgery, and resisting arrest. He defeated the party's two favored candidates, including a biochemist at Eli Lilly.
Republicans, eager for even a shred of good news where Burton is concerned, seized on the Democratic disaster with glee. "The Democrats are running a convicted criminal against the man who's investigating their party's crimes," crowed Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson.
"The one bright spot in this guy's career was his acquittal on a prostitution charge after a jury trial," said Nicholson.
For the first time in a week, Burton can smile. It's the Democrats who are embarrassed now.
By Richard S. Dunham in Washington
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