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So The Washington Post informs us that our retiring Southern Arizona congressman, Jim Kolbe, was told that Florida Congressman Mark Foley was sending disturbing e-mails to a teenage page way back in 2000.

Kolbe, who was a page for Sen. Barry Goldwater in '58 (back when dirty talk had to be sent by telegram), released a statement earlier this week saying that his office was contacted by a former page who was "uncomfortable" after receiving e-mails from Foley.

Kolbe said he had not seen the messages, nor was he told that they were sexual in nature. He added that he passed along the complaint to Foley's office and to the clerk who supervised the page program.

"I believed then, and believe now, that this was the appropriate way to handle this incident given the information I had and the fact that the young man was no longer a page and not subject to the jurisdiction of the program," Kolbe said.

Kolbe's statement contradicted the Post story, which reported that Kolbe had talked with Foley directly about the complaint.

As you'd expect, Democrat Gabrielle Giffords and Republican Randy Graf had different reactions to the news about Kolbe and Foley earlier this week.

Before the news about Kolbe broke, Giffords was calling on Congressman Dennis Hastert to give up his position as speaker of the House.

"When Dennis Hastert was informed about suggestive and inappropriate e-mails sent from Congressman Mark Foley to an underage congressional page, he should have immediately notified the bipartisan House Page Board and launched a full investigation," Giffords announced in a statement.

After The Washington Post revelations about Kolbe, Giffords said that "if any member of Congress knew that Congressman Foley was having inappropriate relationships, it was really their responsibility to let the House leadership know. Obviously, more information is coming out right now about Congressman Foley's situation, but we cannot have people in leadership positions that are allowing others to behave inappropriately and illegally."

Graf said he hadn't read the story about Kolbe's involvement, but complained that the media is relentlessly pursuing the story, even though Foley has resigned.

"It's an issue that the media seems to want to keep at the forefront," Graf said earlier this week. "Rush Limbaugh talked about it this morning: The guy resigned 11 days ago, and it still seems to be front-page news. Listen, there's an investigation in progress to find out exactly what went on and who knew what when. That investigation needs to go forward, but there are some pretty important issues facing us: the War on Terror, North Korea, a lot of issues facing us that we need to be facing, and this takes the eye off the ball."


SPEAKING OF CD 8

When U.S. Sen. John McCain endorsed Republican Randy Graf in the race to replace retiring Congressman Jim Kolbe, he praised, among other things, Graf's commitment to "reining in election and welfare fraud."

Sounds to us like McCain was talking about Graf's support of Proposition 200 two years ago, which blocked illegal immigrants from welfare benefits and required Arizonans to prove their citizenship when registering to vote and to show ID when voting.

McCain is certainly familiar with Graf's work on Prop 200, because our senior senator was one of the initiative's most high-profile opponents. As he told CNSCNews at the time: "I understand the frustration most Arizonans feel with our unprotected border, but I don't think this is the right answer."


SPEAKING OF INITIATIVES THAT ARE THE WRONG ANSWER

A bunch of Pima County politicos and suits got together last week at El Presidio Park to denounce Proposition 207, the initiative that would cripple local government's ability to do any sort of environmental protection by forcing governments to reimburse property owners whenever a government action affects property values.

Since just about any zoning or regulatory action will affect a property's value--or a neighboring property's value--the "regulatory takings" clause in 207 will be a litigation jamboree. And the taxpayers will be the ones footing the legal bills. Up in Oregon, a similar measure has resulted in more than $5 billion in claims.

The end result: Local governments will just avoid rezoning or protecting anything for fear of lawsuits.

It's such a bad idea that even the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce came out against it last week, along with members of the Pima County Board of Supervisors, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, neighborhood associations and conservation groups.

The opponents all argued that the prop will hamstring planning efforts and could even threaten our recently passed regional transportation plan.

Prop 207, billed as the Arizona HomeOwners Protection Effort, is particularly sneaky because it hides its most pernicious portion--the takings garbage--behind an effort to limit government's power of condemnation.

The whole effort is being funded by a New York City bazillionaire named Howard Rich, who is behind a front group called Americans for Limited Government.

Rich is funding efforts like this--as well as bad ideas like initiatives that artificially limit government budget growth--across the country, but he lets his money do the talking and avoids the media.

Still, some intrepid journalists have managed to dig into how his cash is buying off voters. Want to know more? Check out a whole bunch of stories compiled at www.howierichexposed.com.


COMMISH QUITS

Real-estate wizard Bill Arnold appears to be withdrawing from public life after state Sen. Toni Hellon slapped him with a restraining order and an invasion of privacy lawsuit alleging that he had been skulking around her house and taking pictures.

Hellon's lawsuit says that Arnold was behind HellOnToni.com, a Web site that accused Hellon of using campaign fund to remodel her home. Hellon, who lost her bid for a fourth term to Al Melvin in last month's GOP primary, says the expenses were related to a home office.

A few weeks ago, Arnold stepped down from the county's Conservation Acquisition Commission, which oversees open-space purchases as part of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

After Hellon filed her lawsuit, Arnold also quit his job as treasurer of Republican Steve Huffman's ill-fated Congressional District 8 campaign.

Are you on a committee that Arnold has recently quit? Drop us a line, and let us know!


DEBATE DATES

The CD 8 candidates--Democrat Gabby Giffords, Republican Randy Graf, Libertarian David Nolan and independent Jay Quick--are duking it out next week in a debate sponsored by the morning daily and Access Tucson. The games begin at 6:15 p.m. next Tuesday, Oct. 17, at the Pima Community College Board Room, 4905 E. Broadway Blvd.

The debate will air at 8:30 p.m. that evening and repeat repeatedly on Channel 99 on Cox and Channel 74 on Comcast.

The Star and Access Tucson are also sponsoring a debate between incumbent Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva and his Republican challenger, Ron Drake, at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 16, in the Access Tucson studios. That one airs live on Cox 99 and Comcast 74.

By the way, we got some bad info last week about the gubernatorial debate between Democrat Janet Napolitano, Republican Len Munsil and Libertarian Barry Hess. Turns out it wasn't broadcast live on KUAT-TV at all, but tape-delayed by an hour. If you didn't properly set your TiVo but still want to see the debate, you can catch repeats on the UA Channel (that's 19 on Cox and 76 on Comcast) at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 15, and 8 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 16.

If you don't have cable, you can listen in to KUAZ FM 89.1, at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 15.

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