The Washington Post (U.S.A), August 2, 2004
Kerry's Sister Angers Abortion
A Catholic antiabortion group sharply questioned
the propriety of John F. Kerry's sister, Peggy
Kerry, giving a speech to "a campaign
crowd of feminists" in Boston and telling
them that, if elected, her brother would overturn
various Bush policies -- such as barring funds
for U.N. population control efforts.
Not surprising that she'd be campaigning for
her brother, the Catholic Family and Human
Rights Institute noted, but she "works
for George W. Bush" as part of the U.S.
mission to the United Nations.
The institute, a nonprofit that works with the
United Nations, acknowledged that Kerry, a
career civil servant, broke no law in giving
the speech, but it questioned how she can represent
Bush's policies if she's bashing them.
"At one time, career civil servants, like
Kerry, were forbidden to make campaign appearances,"
the group said, "though that has now changed.
What is not yet clear is whether Kerry violated
any internal State Department guidelines."
The answer appears to be no.
"In February, Ms. Kerry sought advice from
the department on engaging in political activities
and received guidance," State Department
spokesman J. Adam Ereli said. "As a career
employee she may take an active part"
in her brother's campaign, he said. But she
can't do so during work hours, and she can't
solicit contributions at work.
"As for the speech," he said, "we
did not have advance notice of her remarks.
. . . We will probably remind her as we would
any employee [that] if you're going to speak
on a matter related to your professional duties,
you run it by your supervisor."
But that doesn't mean that what one says has
to be cleared. "It's a First Amendment
issue," Ereli said. "You're not prevented
from expressing a personal view. You need to
make a disclaimer" -- something about
these remarks reflecting the view of the speaker
and not the department -- "and give a
heads-up." In this case, a heads-up means
perhaps sending an e-mail, to get a green light.
"There's not much basis for a red light,"
This is "kind of an exceptional case,"
he added. "She is the equivalent of a
GS-12," a very mid-level federal employee,
"whose brother is running for president
of the United States."
The institute said Kerry was a Clinton political
appointee whose "job was made permanent
in the early days of the Bush administration."
According to Ereli, however, Kerry joined the
U.S.-U.N. shop in 1997 as a civil servant in
a temporary position and then competed for
and got a permanent position in September 2001.
Meanwhile, it seems there's no love lost between
Kerry and the institute. "Kerry is best
known for booking the U.N. press office on
behalf of Catholics for a Free Choice when
they announced their campaign to throw the
Catholic Church out of the U.N.," the
Federal workers have been maligned in recent
years as people who, unlike folks in the private
sector, just put in their time, collect their
paychecks and could care less about the public
good or the issues they're paid to handle.
But a nasty fight brewing between retirees of
two agencies, the National Park Service and
the Forest Service, shows that, far from not
caring, they are still waging war over the
issues they used to work on -- even now, when
they're supposed to be whittlin' and fishin'.
By way of background, the two agencies have very
different cultures and missions. The Forest
Service, part of the Department of Agriculture,
has always been about balancing nature with
commercial interests -- mining, timber and
recreation -- on the lands it oversees.
The Park Service, part of the Interior Department,
is much more focused on keeping the parks pristine
and worries about environmental degradation
on its turf. To some Park Service types, the
Forest Service is a thinly veiled no-tree-left-behind
So the Coalition of Concerned National Park Service
Retirees last month sent out an "Urgent,
Help Needed" e-mail over concerns that
the Bush administration's proposed policies
on roadless areas in national forests would
harm a number of adjacent parks, including
Yosemite, Yellowstone and Grand Canyon.
"We are looking for any of you who have
worked in these areas . . . who would be willing
to" provide some "anecdotal evidence"
to back up a report the retiree group was working
on with other enviros.
This got the National Association of Forest Service
Retirees riled up. "Well, it looks like
our National Park Service retiree colleagues
have gone over to the dark side of political
activism by mounting a reaction to the newly
announced" roadless rule, Dick Pfilf,
executive director of the Forest Service retirees
group, wrote in a July 21 e-mail to his members.
NAFSR doesn't have a position on the proposal,
which involves "complex matters,"
he wrote. He accused the NPS retirees of backing
a move "to politicize land uses on national
They wouldn't like it if Forest Service retirees
butted in on national parks issues, Pfilf added.
"They shouldn't be allowed to get away
with that. We are taking steps to participate
in several 'hearings' (Denver, Albuquerque
and Tucson) the coalition means to conduct
on the subject. Let us know if you can and
want to help."
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