Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Oprah's Obama Show Didn't Violate Rules

Oprah Winfrey is in the clear: Inviting then-Sen. Barack Obama onto her show last year did not amount to a political donation to his presidential campaign, the Federal Election Commission has ruled.

William Lee Stotts of Cordova, Tenn., filed a complaint in October alleging that Obama's appearance on Winfrey's popular talk show during the Democratic primaries amounted to an unlawful campaign contribution that gave him an "an unfair advantage over the other candidates, both Republican and Democrat, who were deprived such an opportunity."

But in a decision posted to the agency's Web site Monday, FEC lawyers determined that Winfrey's show "engages in activities traditionally associated with media entities" and is, therefore, subject to a "media exemption" that excludes news stories and show appearances from campaign finance laws. FEC lawyers also noted that Winfrey "was not a candidate" and that her show "is not owned or controlled by a political party or candidate."

The commission notified ABC and Harpo Productions, Winfrey's company, that it was dismissing the complaint. The filing was first noted by Roll Call.

-- Dan Eggen

Coleman-Franken Feud Continues: Less than 24 hours after a three-judge panel in Minnesota unanimously rejected Republican Norm Coleman's suit in his Senate race against Democrat Al Franken, the two sides dug in for the next fight in their extended political war.

The Coleman campaign held a conference call Tuesday in which lead attorney Ben Ginsberg announced that the Republican would appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

"This court never wanted to kick open the hood and look at the engine," Ginsberg said, arguing that different standards were applied to Election Day voters compared with absentee-ballot voters. "There are still thousands of voters who have not had their votes counted," he said.

Democrats, meanwhile, say Coleman has had his day in court and needs to step aside.

Ginsberg said Coleman will formally file his appeal next week. The court will then set a schedule to hear oral arguments.

-- Chris Cillizza

Obama to Name Border Czar: The Obama administration is set to name a new U.S.-Mexico border czar to advise Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, tapping former federal prosecutor and California educator Alan Bersin, according to a homeland security official.

Napolitano expects to name Bersin as counselor for the Southwest border Wednesday when she travels there, with John O. Brennan, deputy national security adviser and chairman of the White House's Homeland Security Council, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Bersin, 52, has served as California education secretary, as San Diego schools superintendent, and as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California in the Clinton administration. From 1995 to 1998, he was the attorney general's Southwest border representative, coordinating law enforcement issues between the United States and Mexico.

-- Spencer S. Hsu

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