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Starr aids challenge to finance overhaul

Kenneth W. Starr, whose investigation of President Clinton led to Clinton's impeachment, will help manage the legal team named Thursday to challenge the campaign finance bill that President Bush has pledged to sign into law.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has said he will be the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the measure, also announced that several other prominent lawyers have signed up for the fight.

Joining Starr as lead co-counsel will be Floyd Abrams, who as an expert on the First Amendment has represented many media companies before the Supreme Court _ including the New York Times in the 1971 Pentagon Papers case. Another top lawyer signing on with McConnell was Kathleen M. Sullivan, dean of the Stanford University Law School.

All are offering their services pro bono, McConnell said.

His unveiling of the legal team _ even before the campaign finance measure has become law _ signaled the next phase in a long-running battle over whether limiting political contributions and expenditures amounts to limiting political speech.

Proponents say the reforms would help restore public confidence in a government tarred by association with mega-contributors. But foes such as McConnell say the bill makes a mockery of the Constitution's guarantees of free speech and equal protection.

McConnell's lawsuit will probably not be the only challenge to the coming law. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has said it will sue to block the bill. Labor groups are weighing their options. The American Civil Liberties Union announced Thursday that it would be "compelled to go to court to defend the First Amendment."

Senators slam companies using Bermuda tax break

Senior senators from both parties used blunt language on Thursday to denounce companies that use Bermuda as a mail drop to reduce their American income taxes by tens of millions of dollars, calling them "greedy" and "unpatriotic" "tax evaders" whose actions cannot be tolerated "in a time of war."

Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said they would introduce legislation next month to end the Bermuda tax break.

Such legislation would face an uncertain fate in the House, whose Republican leadership is skeptical of many loophole-closing proposals, contending that they may effectively be tax increases.

Ingersoll-Rand, Accenture, Tyco International, Seagate Technology and other companies all reorganized to create a nominal headquarters in Bermuda or the Cayman Islands, which have no corporate income taxes, while maintaining their working headquarters in the United States.

Mark Weinberger, the Bush administration's tax policy chief, said that the best way to end the Bermuda moves, as well as abusive corporate tax shelters, was to simplify the tax code and make it more competitive in a global economy. But under current law, he said, the best policy would be requiring companies to disclose tax avoidance deals to the IRS, combined with stiffer penalties for hiding abusive transactions.

New Bush proposal

would promote marriage

As Congress debates government's role in promoting marriage, the Bush administration is considering creating community-wide programs to teach teens the benefits of marriage, offer counseling to couples and inject pro-marriage messages into the culture.

The program, still being drafted, would channel money for the program through the child support collection program, a tactic that critics say may be illegal.

The plan would not need approval from Congress, which is considering President Bush's request to devote hundreds of millions of dollars for promoting marriage through welfare.