Originally created 01/29/97

Barnes: carried away 012997 - The Augusta Chronicle



There was a time when Georgia Rep. Roy Barnes, D-Mableton, believed in fair play.

Unfortunately, since 1990, the once-selfless public servant has become ever more fixated on becoming governor. He's becoming more like the glib-talking lawyer Cliff Barnes of the old "Dallas" TV show!

Cliff Barnes would have been proud of the cheap shot Roy took this week. He's asking U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich to "reimburse" $100,000 that Kennesaw State University spent defending its non-profit status because of the American values course Gingrich taught there.

Barnes, who sits as a trustee on the private, tax-exempt Kennesaw foundation that helped fund the classes, parrots the lie that Gingrich's course was "partisan" - a charge the House Ethics Committee dismissed.

If Barnes were intellectually honest, he'd file a resolution asking chief Gingrich accuser Rep. David Bonior, D-Mich., to reimburse the foundation. Bonior, who first made the accusation that the course was "partisan," smeared Kennesaw!

Does barrister Barnes also realize he's arguing himself into a corner?

When it comes to the intersection of politics and the educational activities of tax-exempt non-profits, Barnes makes powerful Democrats nervous when he argues for a pristine standard. It would wreak havoc if uniformly applied.

Could the various non-profit, tax-exempt groups that have offices in the AFL-CIO building in Washington meet Barnes' standard? The building, by the way, also houses the union's main fund-raising committee.

Would Barnes eliminate these big labor organizations that are in analogous positions to Gingrich's PAC? And wouldn't such an action have a chilling effect on free speech?

In America, Roy, it's legal to have a tax-exempt foundation and a separate political arm. Don't mess that up.



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