This Week

Issue: "Lyons thrown to Baptists," Sept. 20, 1997

Depravity watch

It may be perfectly legal to pay a doctor to dismember an unborn child, but trying to kill one by taking Tylenol can lead to a murder charge. In California, police arrested a pregnant woman after she drank two-thirds of a bottle of liquid Tylenol with codeine, apparently in an attempt to kill the child in her womb. The charge: suspicion of attempted murder. In California, attempted murder is defined as trying to kill a human being, "or a fetus," with malice aforethought. Police say the 21-year-old woman wanted to abort her child, at 18-weeks gestation, but her parents intervened. The child survived the overdose of Tylenol, apparently unharmed. Elsewhere in California, a judge ruled that a man does not have to provide financial support for his baby because she's not actually his. In 1994, John Buzzanca and his now ex-wife hired a surrogate mother to bear a child for them, using anonymous egg and sperm donations. Mr. Buzzanca argued that he should not have to pay his former wife $386 a month to support the girl. The judge not only agreed, but also ruled that the girl, now two years old, has no legal parents.


William Saturday, the gym teacher accused of molesting a junior-high-school student in suburban Chicago over an 18-month period, pleaded guilty last week to four counts of criminal sexual abuse of a child, one count of child pornography, and one count of official misconduct. He has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. WORLD reported last month that the molestation was in effect aided by the county health department, which administered several shots of the controversial birth-control drug Depo Provera to the girl, who was 13 at the time. The attorney for "Betty Doe" (not her real name), James Nagle of Wheaton, said the family is relieved that the girl won't have to endure a trial. Betty is back in school now as a high-school sophomore. Meanwhile, an effort in the House to change the rules of the federal Title X funding, to require clinics to notify parents before providing birth control to children, ended last week in failure. The Istook-Manzullo amendment was defeated in a procedural maneuver by liberal Republican John Porter (R-Ill.), 220-201, Republicans providing the margin of defeat. Mr. Porter offered a substitute amendment "encouraging" clinics to notify parents but providing no recourse for clinics that refuse. This is, in effect, the current rule, under which Betty's prolonged molestation occurred. Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.), who coauthored the amendment, says the fight isn't over. "This [the Porter wording] is the status quo, and that's the real threat," Rep. Manzullo told WORLD. "When we come back with this, the debate will have to be framed in a way that will show that a vote for the status quo is a vote to protect pedophiles."

Pipeline dreams

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Documents spoke louder than denials during testimony last week before the Senate committee investigating campaign-fundraising abuses. And while memory lapses plagued former Democratic National Committee chairman Don Fowler, one of his most vivid certainties was that Vice President Gore did not know "about the fundraising aspects" of a Buddhist temple fundraiser in 1996. The week began with committee Republicans paving a paper trail that traced Mr. Fowler's intervention with the CIA on behalf of a generous DNC donor who had been blackballed at the White House because of his "shady and untrustworthy reputation." Shady or not, oil entrepreneur Roger Tamraz was a trustworthy DNC benefactor, giving a total of $95,000 in 1995. The Washington Post on Sept. 9 reported that DNC finance director Richard Sullivan received a copy of an anti-Tamraz White House memo that led to his being dropped from an official White House guest list. Two days later, he and finance chairman Marvin Rosen met over dinner with Mr. Tamraz and promised to "clear things up." According to CIA records, Mr. Fowler then went to work to secure meetings with the president and vice president for Mr. Tamraz, who needed political support for a Caspian Sea-region oil pipeline he wanted to build. About two weeks after the Tamraz dinner with the finance chiefs, Mr. Fowler called the CIA with questions about the agency's reports on Mr. Tamraz and how they might portray him to White House officials. About that same time, Mr. Fowler successfully tapped Mr. Tamraz for a $75,000 contribution to the Virginia Democratic Party. In December, according to the CIA, Mr. Fowler again contacted the agency, seeking "a letter ... to clear Tamraz's name with the president." Subsequently, Mr. Tamraz was admitted to four White House events, including dinner with the president, during which Mr. Tamraz discussed his pipeline dream. Under oath Sept. 9, Mr. Fowler claimed he had "no memory of any conversations with the CIA." Mr. Fowler's own handwritten notes, turned over to the committee, from a meeting with Mr. Tamraz contained the phrase "go to CIA," but that did not help his memory. Mr. Fowler knew enough to contend that all his work on behalf of DNC donors was "fully appropriate." The next day, DNC general counsel Joseph E. Sandler took the committee hot seat. That morning, The Washington Post dropped another bombshell: that attorneys for Mr. Gore and the DNC have known for at least three months about the "hard money" deposits of money raised by the vice president's White House fundraising calls. News of those deposits prompted Attorney General Janet Reno to take the first step in the appointment of an independent counsel to probe Mr. Gore. ("Hard money," specifically for individual candidates, falls under strict federal regulations; "soft money," specifically for political party-building activities, does not.) The Post story asked: If that information was available to the lawyers and to the Senate committee, why did the Justice Department not know about it? Why did it take a newspaper story to inspire Miss Reno to act? Senators asked Mr. Sandler about documents that showed Mr. Gore himself knew the DNC was spending hard money out of the same political advertising accounts for which he was raising money. Republicans pointed to a February 1996 DNC memo to the White House stamped "the president has seen this" that clearly spelled out the difference between hard (federal) and soft (non-federal) money: "Federal money is the first $20,000 given by an individual ($40,000 from a married couple). Any amount over this $20,000 amount from an individual is considered non-federal." Under oath, Mr. Sandler dispensed with the hard/soft distinction and asserted under oath that Mr. Gore's fundraising efforts were "entirely legal" because the donors were "not in any federal building when the solicitation [was] made." At the White House, officials repeated the line that Mr. Gore "understood the telephone calls ... to be for ... 'soft money.'" Meanwhile, all the talk about hard and soft money has caused Mr. Gore's poll numbers to soften. A USA Today/CNN/ Gallup poll released Sept. 9 found Mr. Gore viewed by 64 percent of respondents as "honest and trustworthy." The survey was done Sept. 6 and 7. A Sept. 10 ABC poll, however, found less than half of respondents, 49 percent, attributing "honesty and integrity" to the vice president. Forty-four percent, according to the ABC poll, now view Mr. Gore as no more honest than President Clinton.


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