Graham's Presidential Campaign Trails in Funds

Sen. Bob Graham (Fla.) was a late entry in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, and his fundraising in the first quarter of this year reflects it.

Graham's campaign reported yesterday that he raised $1 million through March 31. That puts him behind Sen. John Edwards (N.C.), Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.), Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) and former Vermont governor Howard Dean, all of whom reported first-quarter totals last week.

Graham, who spent part of the winter undergoing and recuperating from major heart surgery, did not establish his campaign committee until late February. He has begun holding low-key campaign events in Florida and will travel to California and New Hampshire later this month.

Lieberman Seeks Probe of Ethics Enforcement at Interior

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, asked the Department of the Interior's inspector general to investigate whether the agency has ensured that top officials act impartially and avoid conflicts of interests.

The written request follows reports by The Washington Post and the Associated Press that Deputy Interior Secretary J. Steven Griles, a former lobbyist, took part in meetings in 2001 that involved regulatory matters important to his former clients in the oil and gas industry.

"These reports raise numerous, troubling questions about whether the deputy secretary has successfully avoided conflicts of interest, or the appearance of conflicts," said Lieberman. He asked Inspector General Earl E. Devaney to investigate the department's ethics enforcement.

Mary Adler, the deputy inspector general at Interior, said, "We'll do everything necessary to answer these questions and address the issues raised in the senator's letter."

GOP, Democrats Ponder

Strategies on Court Nominee

Senate Republicans opened debate on the sharply contested nomination of Priscilla R. Owen to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, prodding Democrats to decide whether to allow a vote or try to block it with stalling tactics.

But GOP leaders did not try to force a vote right away, and Democrats were apparently not prepared to announce their strategy. Several aides said Democrats may discuss a plan for dealing with the nomination at their weekly luncheon today. Democrats have blocked action on appellate nominee Miguel Estrada for several weeks, but it is not clear whether they have the votes to stop Owen.

The Judiciary Committee rejected Owen last year, when Democrats controlled the Senate, but approved her after Republicans regained the majority this year. Democrats say Owen, a member of the Texas Supreme Court, would be swayed as a judge by strong antiabortion and pro-business views. Republicans call her fair-minded and well-qualified.

-- Compiled from reports by staff writers Dan Balz, Christopher Lee and Helen Dewar