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Political notebook

W.Va. governor taps former aide to replace Byrd

July 17, 2010

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Governor Joe Manchin appointed former chief counsel Carte Goodwin, a member of a prominent West Virginia family, yesterday to succeed US Senator Robert C. Byrd, who died last month.

“I know he’s going to make us all proud,’’ Manchin said at a packed news conference at the state Capitol. “I know that West Virginia is better off because he’s passed this way.’’

Goodwin, a Democrat, is expected to be sworn in as a senator Tuesday.

“My responsibility now becomes to work hard every day to maintain the trust of the people of West Virginia,’’ Goodwin said. “There will be a lot of challenges ahead, and a lot to learn in a very short period of time. But I’m confident that I’m up to the challenge.’’

At 36 years old, he would be the youngest member of the Senate, replacing Byrd, who at 92 was the oldest.

The Charleston lawyer would hold the seat until November. The governor wants voters to decide who will serve the final two years of Byrd’s term. The Legislature has begun a special session to consider a proposal from Manchin setting up a fall vote.

Goodwin ruled out running for the seat. Manchin has said it’s highly likely that he will seek the seat at election but has yet to announce his plans.

Goodwin worked on Manchin’s 2004 campaign for governor before becoming his chief lawyer. He served in that post until shortly after Manchin began his second term in 2009, leaving for his family’s law firm.

— Associated Press

Harvard professor among candidates for new post
WASHINGTON — White House senior adviser David Axelrod said yesterday that Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard professor, was “obviously a candidate’’ to lead a new consumer protection bureau.

The head of the bureau is one of the most far-reaching positions created by the financial legislation Congress approved Thursday. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation next week and begin implementing various provisions of the 2,300-page bill.

“Elizabeth Warren is a great, great champion for consumers,’’ Axelrod said in a conference call. “She’s obviously a candidate to lead this effort. There are other candidates as well, but Elizabeth is certainly a candidate.’’

Warren, who proposed creating the bureau, declined to comment on whether she would seek the appointment. Warren is a professor at Harvard Law School who is on leave to head the Congressional Oversight Panel, which has been a watchdog over the Treasury Department’s bank bailout fund.

She has had several influential advocates, including Representative Barney Frank, the Newton Democrat and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

“I’ve told the administration she would absolutely be a fantastic choice,’’ Frank said in a recent interview.

For average Americans, the bureau is likely to be one of the most visible aspects of the massive financial overhaul. The bureau is designed to protect consumers and will craft rules related to everyday transactions involving credit cards, checking accounts, and mortgages.

The new position will be appointed by the president, and confirmed by the Senate. Until the first director is confirmed, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner would have authority over the agency.

— Matt Viser

Calif. university says it paid Palin $75k for speech
FRESNO, Calif. — A cash-strapped California public university revealed yesterday its foundation arm paid Sarah Palin $75,000 to give the headline speech at the 50th anniversary of the rural campus.

The former Alaska governor’s appearance at California State University, Stanislaus, drew intense scrutiny after officials refused to disclose the terms of her contract, but ultimately attracted sizable donations for the public school.

University spokeswoman Eve Hightower did not immediately explain what prompted the disclosure of the speaking fee.

In a statement, campus officials proclaimed the event was the most successful fund-raiser in school history, saying it raised more than $207,000 for scholarships.

Details about Palin’s contract came to light after students fished part of what appeared to be Palin’s contract from a rubbish bin. That prompted California’s attorney general, Jerry Brown, to launch an investigation into the finances of the university’s foundation arm and allegations that the nonprofit violated public disclosure laws.

The material recovered by the students detailed perks such as first-class airfare for two and deluxe hotel accommodations. The school’s foundation said expenses on local travel and accommodations amounted to $2,500, and that Palin’s airfare had been donated. No further details were provided.

The university, like dozens of other public colleges, has had to cut some classes and cancel several scholarships as a result of California’s ongoing financial woes.

— Associated Press