Hillary, Dem shout it out at Capitol

gwhunter69

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New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com  
Hillary, Dem shout it out at Capitol
By TIMOTHY J. BURGER
DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU
Thursday, July 18th, 2002

WASHINGTON - Sen. Hillary Clinton got into a closed-door shouting match in the Capitol yesterday with the top Democratic backer of campaign finance reform, sources told the Daily News.

Clinton (D-N.Y.) faced off with Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) during a luncheon discussion of a landmark fund-raising law set to take effect Nov. 6.

When Feingold dismissed warnings that senators could face legal challenges on unpredictable grounds under the new law, Clinton exploded.

"Russ, live in the real world," a tight-faced Clinton shouted at Feingold, sources said.

"They will be all over you like a June bug," a source quoted Clinton as later saying, in a reference to Republicans and their allies.

"I also live in the real world, senator, and I function quite well in it," Feingold retorted before 20 senators sitting in stunned silence, a source said.

"She clobbered him," the source added.

The former First Lady has been careful to not upstage her colleagues. Even some of the harshest critics of the Clinton administration have conceded she has been charming. Yesterday's outburst appeared to be her first big blowup with a colleague.

Feingold wants to toughen proposed Federal Election Commission regulations for the landmark campaign finance reform bill that he and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) pushed through after a decade of work.

Senators warned

"The purpose of the lunch was to discuss implementation of the law, which they did," said Clinton communications director Karen Dunn.

A Feingold spokesman had no immediate comment.

The session began with opposing presentations by former Common Cause chief Fred Wertheimer, who backs Feingold in supporting tougher FEC rulings, and Democratic campaign lawyer Bob Bauer.

Sources said Bauer warned senators they could face criminal charges if they seek general political support from an audience that later makes soft-money contributions.

It was also suggested that political events, like former President Bill Clinton's infamous White House coffees for big donors, could theoretically be criminalized under the new law. The coffees were investigated by Congress and the Justice Department, but no charges were filed.

When Feingold protested that interpretations like that were not rational readings of his law, Clinton, who voted for Feingold's bill, hammered him.

Sources paraphrased Clinton as saying she spoke from experience - eight years as Bill Clinton's First Lady in a White House beset with controversy and federal investigations - when she warned that "political adversaries" would make senators' lives hell.

She said opponents would pursue suits and criminal allegations that might ultimately be invalidated - but only after senators suffered political fallout and big legal bills.

One of the sources said most of the senators at the meeting nodded in agreement with Clinton.


(Edited by gwhunter69 at 9:18 am on July 19, 2002)
 

RIFLEMAN

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Nothing like a little unrest in the enemy's camp to make my day.  Now if I could only get her to resign her office......
 

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