Ethics Chiefs Vouch

For GOP's Impartiality

House ethics panel leaders stood up for their Republican members yesterday, insisting the lawmakers could act impartially in deciding whether Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) misused his office.

Chairman Joel Hefley (R-Colo.), and senior Democrat Alan B. Mollohan (W.Va.) defended the GOP committee members against conflict-of-interest questions raised by congressional watchdog groups and Democratic House candidates.

The private groups have insisted that an outside counsel conduct an investigation. In recent days, with three DeLay political associates indicted in Texas in a campaign finance case, some Democratic candidates are stepping up attacks -- insisting that Republicans return donations from DeLay's political action committee.

Hefley and Mollohan have placed allegations that DeLay misused his office before the full, evenly divided 10-member committee. It has not decided whether to dismiss the allegations or to appoint an investigative subcommittee to probe some or all of the allegations by freshman Chris Bell (D-Tex.).

For the Record

* In the Oval Office, Porter J. Goss took the oath as CIA director.

* The Pentagon observed its final court-ordered deadline for releasing documents about President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam era, but the 10 pages shed no new light on his military career.

* The Senate late Thursday passed a $19.7 billion foreign aid bill for 2005, $1.9 billon below what the president requested. In a demonstration of concern for the humanitarian situation in the Sudan, the bill transferred $150 million previously earmarked for Iraq to assist relief efforts in Darfur. Total aid to that region was set at $690 million.

-- Compiled from reports

by staff writer Dan Morgan

and news services