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Rep. Davis May Have Solicited GOP Donations from Microsoft

THE WASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Thomas M. Davis III, of Virginia, came under fire from Democrats Thursday after telling Microsoft chairman Bill Gates the software giant had not been sufficiently supportive of the GOP.

Without naming him directly, Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) alluded to Davis’s actions in asking the ethics committee to clarify whether House Republicans improperly asked Gates for campaign donations during a closed meeting in the Capitol Wednesday.

According to several GOP lawmakers, Davis asked Gates why the party had not received as much “political support” from Microsoft despite its support for policies favoring the technology sector. He also argued that House Democratic leaders were less supportive of the high-tech industry’s agenda.

“Although House rules allow members to discuss campaign activities amongst themselves, it would appear to be a violation of both House ethics rules and federal law for a private citizen, Mr. Gates, to be solicited for funds, discouraged from donating to certain organizations, or to have to account for the level of funds donated to a political party, by members in the House in the Capitol building,” Snyder wrote to the top Republican and Democrat on the ethics panel.

Republicans dismissed the letter as a partisan stunt. “It’s much ado about nothing,” said John Feehery, spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).

Council Threatens Russia with Sanctions over Attack on Chechnya

THE WASHINGTON POST -- MOSCOW

The Council of Europe, a 41-nation human rights assemblage, became the first foreign organization to threaten Russia with sanctions over the war in Chechnya Thursday when it launched proceedings to suspend Moscow from its ranks.

The council, which met in Strasbourg, France, demanded Russia stop the war immediately and begin talks with elected Chechen officials. It also urged member governments to take Russia to the European Court of Human Rights for atrocities committed against civilians.

Russian officials reacted negatively to the council’s action. Moscow has described its operations in Chechnya as anti-terrorist actions and denies abuses.

The Foreign Ministry called it “cause for concern,” and threatened unspecified retaliation. Russian members of parliament who attended the council’s assembly meeting in Strasbourg walked out. Passions ran so high that a Russian delegate and a Chechen representative came to blows outside the session.