3 1? 1?,, 40Av ,. Tom DeLay ‘ 4\\`’1i’ , \\’ .1\\ ti ;!}”‘ ,’31AV1,\\, Ng;:igAng:T. AA v , ON, DELAY! Attentive National Public Radio listeners know why many regard U.S. ,House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Sugar Land Republican, as the consummate political butcher. In a February 5 interview with NPR’s “All Things Considered” host Linda Wertheimer, DeLay assailed President Clinton for playing partisan politics. Clinton, he said, “talks about [being] bipartisan. But he wants the Republicans to be `bi’ while he’s running around being partisan. And we have extended our hand time and time again to have it bit off by this president.” Throughout the interview, DeLay was the one with the sharp teeth. He told Wertheimer that he opposed Clinton’s State of the Union call for standards in public schools. “It’ s . . .not the function of Washington, D.C. to tell Sugar Land, Texas how to run its school system.” Asked what he thought about Clinton’s proposal to have campaign finance reform passed by July 4, DeLay responded: “I don’t think it’s going to happen mainly because we’re not interested in what the President is doing.” DeLay did allow that he wasn’t entirely opposed to Clinton’s proposal for giving tax breaks to college students’ families. But, like any steadfast Republican, he added: “I don’t want it instead of a $500per-child tax credit or capital gains tax reduction or real across-the-board simplification of the tax code.” CORRUPTION CONTENDER. In the mad scramble for the world’s richest gold deposit, New Orleans-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold has apparently won. When Bre-X Minerals, a small Calgary-based company, found the gigantic Busang deposit on the island of Borneo in 1995, some of the world’s biggest gold companies began lobbying Suharto’s corrupt Indonesian regime for the right to become Bre-X’s partner. Barrick Gold of Toronto used two members of their advisory board, Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney and former President George Bush, to curry favor with Suharto. The company also hired one of Suharto’s daughters. Bre-X jumped on the nepotism bandwagon by hiring one of Suharto’s sonsat a reported sum of $1 million a monthand Barrick and Bre-X were thought to have made a deal with Suharto’ s government. But Freeport’s flamboyant CEO, Jim Bob Moffett, was quietly working in the background. Already mining the massive Grasberg deposit on the western side of Papua New Guinea, which contains some 38 million ounces of gold, Freeport wanted a slice of Busang, which contains an estimated 70 million ounces of gold. At $350 per ounce, the gold at Busang is worth at least $25 billion. Freeport has long had close ties to Suharto’s regime. And on February 17, Freeport and Bre-X announced that they are to be partners in the Busang deal. According to Reuters, the mining venture will be “45 percent owned by Bre-X, 30 percent by two Indonesian companies and their partners, 10 percent by the Republic of Indonesia and 15 percent by FreeportMcMoRan Copper and Gold.” Bre-X said Freeport, which will operate the mine, would provide approximately $400 million, or 25 percent of the money needed to build a mining complex at the Busang site. Reuters also reported that Freeport, through Chase Manhattan bank, will provide up to $1.2 billion in additional funding for the project. Congressional investigators are looking at several companies operating in Indonesia for potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits American companies from paying bribes to foreign officials. In 1995, Transparency International and the University of Goettingen released a ranking of the world’s most corrupt countries. Indonesia was ranked number one by a wide margin. Last year it fell to number 10, but it appears to be staging a comeback with this deal. The Busang mining contract was widely seen as a contest to see who could provide the most lucrative deal for Suharto and his cronies. Freeport apparently won. JIM BOB UNIVERSITY. The University of Texas is proceeding with controversial plans to name a building on campus after Jim Bob Moffett, the CEO of New Orleans-based Freeport-McMoRan. The naming came at the suggestion of U.T. Chancellor William Cunningham, who, at the time the building was named, was sitting on Freeport’s board. But just a few blocks away from Jim Bob Hall, the State Legislature \(meeting in the plain old “Capitol,” which at press time had not yet been named after any big chance to restrict corporate kickbacks at state schools. Austin Representative Glen Maxey has filed HB 510, which would prohibit officials at state-supported universities from taking donations from a person or company if a university official “at any time within the preceding year has had a substantial interest in the business entity.” The bill could also prevent university officials who have business ties to big donors from naming campus buildings after those donors. During a February 11 House Higher Education Committee meeting, U.T. System officials expressed concern over Maxey’s bill. They argued that the bill could thwart the system’s ability to raise private funds, which they claim is now essential due to the state’s dwindling support. Board of Regents member Lowell Leberman argued that HB 510 is superfluous because the System already has “all the tools necessary” to check conflicts of interest in naming university facilities. For example, he said that any building name must be approved by the Board of Regents and that officials must disclose their financial interests. But Leberman neglected to mention why these checks and balances didn’t stop the egregious conflict of interest involving the Moffett building. VAL VERDE, STILL GOING. State officials are still making noise about the Del Rio military voting case \(“Uncovering the Val tary of State Tony Garza has written to Attorney General Dan Morales to complain that the federal judge’s ruling, which kept two Val Verde incumbents in office pending the outcome of the election challenge, contradicts state election law.
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