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Brownback's Darfur Stand

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Republican presidential hopeful Sam Brownback released financial disclosure forms yesterday showing that the senator from Kansas has sold off tens of thousands of dollars in mutual fund holdings to avoid investing in companies that do business with Sudan.

Brownback has been an outspoken critic of the violence in Darfur.

He was the first presidential candidate to make public a financial disclosure report that was required to be filed with the Federal Election Commission yesterday. Several candidates, including former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain of Arizona on the Republican side and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York among the Democrats, sought and received 45-day extensions for the filings.

Other candidates filed their forms but said they will let the FEC make them public after a standard review period.

Brownback's forms listed sales of nearly two dozen investments, several of which were mutual funds whose holdings include companies active in Sudan. Among them was a mutual fund in the name of Brownback's wife valued at $50,000 to $100,000. Other Sudan-related investments were in the names of the couple's children.

Brownback also listed a blind trust held jointly with his wife that is valued at $1 million to $5 million.

-- Matthew Mosk

Biden, Obama Address Education

Two Democratic presidential contenders issued proposals to address college affordability at a time when the student loan industry is under scrutiny for conflicts of interest between university officials and loan administrators.

Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) said yesterday that he wants the federal government to stop subsidizing banks that provide student loans, using the savings to provide loans directly to students, who can apply for financial help from either private companies or the Education Department.

"The system needs to be fixed," Obama said in a statement. "We shouldn't be providing billions in taxpayer-funded giveaways to private banks. We should be providing an affordable, accessible college education to every American."

Meanwhile, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) introduced legislation yesterday to pay the tuition of attending a public two-year college and at least half the cost of tuition at a public four-year college for lower- and middle-income families.

"College is on the verge of becoming a luxury good. Rising costs are putting college out of reach for more and more Americans," Biden said in a statement. "If we expect to maintain our status as a leader in the global economy we must do more for our students."

Other Democrats have also addressed the issue. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) has proposed a "student borrower bill of rights" that bases loan payments on income. Edwards has suggested a plan similar to Obama's that would eliminate bank subsidies.

-- Zachary A. Goldfarb

Ex-Councilman Wins Philadelphia Mayoral Primary

A former Philadelphia City Council member who promised to tackle corruption and a surging murder rate won the city's Democratic mayoral primary.

Michael Nutter, 49, who gave up his council seat to run for mayor, had 35 percent of the vote with 82 percent of precincts reporting. Businessman Tom Knox had 27 percent, followed by U.S. Reps. Robert A. Brady and Chaka Fattah.

The Democratic primary winner will be the overwhelming favorite in November; the city has not elected a Republican mayor in nearly 60 years. Business leader Al Taubenberger was unopposed in the GOP primary.

Term limits barred two-term incumbent John Street from running again.

-- Associated Press


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