Monday, April 19, 2004

Cintas blast required leap of reasoning

Click here to e-mail Carl
The press release came with a cute headline ("Bush's Money Laundry-ing") and charges - in bold face type - that a local fat cat bought looser government regulations via campaign donations to President Bush.

"Six weeks after Cintas Corp. Chairman Richard T. Farmer co-hosted a $1.7 million fund-raiser for George W. Bush in Cincinnati, Bush's Environmental Protection Agency proposed exempting industrial laundries like Cintas from rules that protect workers from handling poisonous materials," read the March 14 release from Boston-based Campaign Money Watch.

One problem: There's no evidence of any connection.

The EPA rule, which is 32 small-type pages in the Federal Register, has been in the works for 20 years. (Yes, a rule on how to treat "solvent-contaminated industrial wipes" can occupy government bureaucrats for years. But that's another story.)

A look at the EPA docket - a history of how the rule came about - shows virtually no Cintas involvement. Representatives of other companies, especially Kimberly-Clark, sent letters and attended meetings, according to EPA files. But Cintas had no major role, except through the trade association it belongs to.

The towels in the regulations are a tiny part of Cintas' laundry business, maybe 5 percent, spokesman Wade Gates said. And the rule itself won't change anything; it codifies what already are state-level regulations.

"This specific rule, it really has no effect on us," Gates said.

EPA spokeswoman Cathy Milbourn said the proposed rule will affect about 115,000 facilities across the country, 96 percent of which are small businesses.

Farmer is a longtime supporter of Republicans, including President Bush. But it's hard to imagine him whispering to President Bush about "conditional exclusions from hazardous waste" or "solvent-contaminated industrial wipes." (Gates said they never talked about it.)

David Donnelly, director of Campaign Money Watch, said appearance was the problem, even if the EPA didn't cave in to donor pressure.

"In money in politics, there's the actual corruption and there's the appearance of corruption. Both are very damaging to the political process," he said. "I'm not saying it's Farmer's fund raising alone that did this. I'm suggesting the appearance is very damaging to public trust."

Course work

With Congress on spring break - sorry, district work period - Rep. John Boehner's education committee had a "field hearing" April 8 in Augusta, Ga.

Hmmm, Augusta. And the chairman is noted for leaving no golf course behind.

Well, as it turns out, Boehner was not going to be golfing at Augusta National, home of the Masters Tournament.

"That's just a coincidence," said Boehner spokesman Steve Forde of the hearing at a golf mecca.

No, in fact, the Republican from West Chester had a golf tournament fund-raiser Tuesday at a different golf course, in Ponte Vedra, Fla.

They said it

"Mitch McConnell is the Republican whip of the Senate and he's accusing us of being too partisan? He can go to hell for all I'm concerned." --Former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey, member of the Sept. 11 commission, quoted in the New York Times.


E-mail or call (202) 906-8134.

Four-year degree can take 6 years - or more
Cintas blast required leap of reasoning
Rodeo skills are learned young

In church, faith is hope
Rice insists U.S. won't swap captives
Child luring cases on rise
Healthy living, lower premiums?
Employers promoting healthy lifestyles
City may get Guardian Angels
World War II veteran shares horrors of war with students
Ceremony honors donors of organs
Ceremony part of effort to raise Holocaust awareness
Lunken compromise before board
Driving clinics train teens
Pavilion opened in Friendship Park

Bunning has raised $5.1M
Erlanger aims to be exercise friendly
Hotels hotbeds for meth cooks
400 in Ky. accused of satellite TV thefts

Marchers complain of heckling
All names for sale at school
Students mixed over parties
Princeton receives 30 superintendent files
Tuition keeps rising at state's public universities

Patients find a caring friend in Edith Farkas
The Works receives business award

Ada Barkhau, 97, teacher, librarian in Newport
Jerry Sowers was a retiree volunteer