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New Bush Bash

The committee planning the George W. Bush inaugural won't provide details of this year's bash, but if past inaugurals are any guide, it will end up costing over $40 million. Inaugurations are usually paid for in part by private donations. The Center for Responsive Politics lists the Bush contributors: Among the usual suspects, companies like Abbott Laboratories, America Online, ADM, and Enron, as well as Major League Baseball, are down for $100,000 each. An unexpected entry was Deborah Dingell, wife of Michigan Democratic congressman John Dingell, who plunked down $100,000 on behalf of GM.

In addition to private donations, presidential inaugurations are usually paid for by loans. Clinton's 1992 inauguration cost $33 million. The 1988 inauguration of Bush's father, staged with an additional $7 million in federal funds, cost a then-record $30 million. (That included the inaugural balls; the ceremony cost $950,000; the platform cost $430,000.) The Carter inauguration events ran to a paltry $3 million. The inauguration of Barbara Bush's forebear Franklin Pierce cost $322, including outlays for 16 additional police officers.

Clinton's second inaugural, in 1997, was paid for by $30 million in private donations and $13 million in federal funds, but the total was reduced by applying $9 million left over from the 1992 inaugural. A breakdown of major costs: $1 million for the platform and grandstands at the Capitol; $5.7 million to the District of Columbia for security; $4.7 million to the Pentagon to cover military formations and logistics. The Interior Department received $1 million to offset its expenses.


All in the Republican Family
House of Cards

Just in time for the inauguration, The Washington Post reports that a new PR/government-affairs firm, Potomac Hudson Group, is opening in Washington and New York. One of the founders is Lorine Card, who worked in the Reagan administration and for New Hampshire governors, and most recently ran MediaOne's Washington office. She is married to Brad Card, chief of staff for New York Republican congressman John Sweeney. Brad is the brother of Bush's new chief of staff, Andrew Card Jr. And Card family ties don't stop there. Andrew Card's sister Alison works for Connecticut governor John Rowland. She is married to Ron Kaufman, the Massachusetts member of the Republican National Committee, and a former staff member in Bush Sr.'s administration.

Plugging into the Card family is like getting into switching central. Andrew Card worked in the Reagan White House as liaison with state governments. He was former deputy chief of staff and transportation secretary in Bush's father's administration, then held posts as a lobbyist for the former Automobile Manufacturers Association and was vice president for government affairs in GM's Washington office.

"Andy has always been one of the guys the Bushes can turn to in difficult circumstances," Bob Marsh, a government relations specialist at General Motors, told The Boston Globe. "He doesn't go for self-promotion. He really avoids it like the plague. He used to call himself the 'worst leak in the White House' and that's one of the reasons the Bushes respect him so much."


Behind the Gale Storms
Norton South

Interior Secretary-designate Gale Norton raised eyebrows last week because of a 1996 speech on the importance of states' rights that she gave to Denver's conservative Independence Institute. In the speech, she doffed her hat to the Confederacy and told how moved she was to visit a Civil War graveyard in which an inscription on a monument related how bravely the soldiers from Virginia fought in defense of the sovereignty of their state.

Whether or not Norton had sympathy for the Confederacy is beside the point. She made this speech as attorney general of Colorado at a time when westerners organized around the County independence movement were openly talking about breaking away from the union because of public-domain land policies, especially environmental regulations, that they thought were onerous. Catron County, New Mexico, the symbol of the fight against the federal government, talked about kicking the federal government off surrounding public-domain lands and setting up an independent republic. Elsewhere in southern New Mexico environmentalists were threatened. In Nevada, secessionists nearly came to armed conflict with U.S. Forest Service personnel. In Oregon, another band of secessionists phoned death threats to Bureau of Land Management agents. In one case a caller threatened to drop a federal employee's 12-year-old child down a well. So frightened were federal employees by these threats that they sent their families away.

Catron County passed ordinances that banned the release of wolves, bears, or mountain lions in wilderness areas, and demanded that it be consulted before federal agencies used public lands. Grazing on the public domain is viewed as a private property right and the county considers private property rights to be civil rights. Violations carry fines of up to $10,000.

James Catron, the county attorney who authored certain of these acts, is an Anglophile. "The British frontier culture was forged over 700 years of constant warfare with the British and Scottish monarchs," he told High Country News in 1996. "When these people see government getting strong enough to push them off their lands, destroy their culture and their livelihoods, when these people see the federal government protecting owls and fish instead of humans, they tend to fight back."

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