Posted: 2/27/2001 9:30:35 PM EDT
Poll: Most think Hillary Clinton acted unethically or illegally on pardons
by MARC HUMBERT
AP Political Writer
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - While six of 10 New York voters believe Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton acted unethically or illegally with regard to presidential pardons, a poll reported Tuesday that half the voters questioned still have a favorable opinion of her.
The statewide poll from Marist College's Institute for Public Opinion found that 46 percent of New York voters believe Clinton did something unethical concerning the pardons handed out by her husband at the end of his presidency.
Another 15 percent said the former first lady did something illegal in connection with the pardons. Thirty-nine percent said they felt she had done nothing wrong.
In addition, 58 percent of New York voters said they didn't believe her claim last week that she didn't know, until after the fact, that her brother, lawyer Hugh Rodham, had received almost $400,000 to help win two presidential pardons. Thirty percent said they believe her.
The polls come as The New York Observer unveiled a stinging front-page editorial Tuesday saying that if Clinton had ''any shame, she would resign.''
The New York City newspaper called Clinton's news conference last week, at which she took questions on the pardons, ''a masterpiece of evasion'' and referred to her as ''Slick Hillie.'' The Observer endorsed former Vice President Al Gore in his presidential bid last year but also picked Clinton's rival, former Republican Rep. Rick Lazio, in the Senate race.
''Sen. Clinton is working hard everyday for the things New Yorkers care about, like fighting for better schools and health care,'' Clinton spokeswoman Karen Dunn said. ''The observers that matter the most in this regard are her constituents.''
A poll published Sunday by the New York Post, conducted by Zogby International, also found that 58 percent of New York voters didn't believe Clinton's statement that she knew nothing about her brother's paid pardon-pushing.
Nonetheless, the Marist poll found that 48 percent of those polled still had a favorable opinion of the former first lady. Forty-four percent said they had an unfavorable opinion of her.
When asked whether they felt Clinton would be a good senator for New York, 54 percent of voters told the Marist pollsters that she would. That is down slightly from 59 percent in a Marist poll conducted in December.
A poll out earlier this month from the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute had Sen. Clinton rated favorably by 38 percent of New York state voters, down from 46 percent in a Quinnipiac poll issued Dec. 13.
''There's clearly damage in terms of people not believing her,'' said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist institute. But Miringoff said that when it comes to her role as a senator, New Yorkers are adopting a ''wait-and-see attitude.''
In the poll, the new senator's job approval rating stood at 30 percent while 42 percent rated her performance as only fair or poor. Twenty-eight percent said they weren't sure how to rate the job she was doing.
Asked about the Marist poll, Clinton spokesman Jim Kennedy said, ''What the poll doesn't ask is whether New Yorkers prefer their senators to focus on the issues that matter most, like health care and education. Because that's what Senator Clinton is doing every day, working hard for all the people of New York.''
Clinton has also denied playing any role in President Clinton's commutation of prison sentences handed out to four men convicted of defrauding the federal government out of millions of dollars to benefit a Hasidic Jewish sect that voted overwhelmingly for her in last year's New York Senate race. Forty-six percent of voters polled by Marist said they don't believe that denial while 37 percent said they felt she w77 million-member worldwide Anglican Communion have spent months calling for decisive action against its U.S. branch, the Episcopal Church, over its liberal attitude on homosexuality.
But the top U.S. Episcopalian said Tuesday the he's not sure the issue will be discussed during a key meeting that begins Friday near Hendersonville, N.C.
Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold said the Anglican leader, England's Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, instead wants to refer the fuss to an advisory commission on theology.
The issue moved to the fore in 1998, when the world's Anglican bishops declared by an overwhelming margin that biblical teaching opposes homosexual activity. Many bishops from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Mideast strongly backed the statement.
Two church leader, Bishops Drexel Gomez of the Bahamas and Maurice Sinclair of Argentina, have issued a public proposal that the North Carolina meeting take charge of what they consider a deteriorating church situation in the U.S. and in world Anglicanism.
The proposal would have the 38 primates, or church leaders, assume the authority to set boundaries on acceptable Anglican policy, then advise Carey to lower any disobedient national church to ''observer status'' in world Anglicanism. If necessary, he could declare such a church outside the fold and recognize a competing church.
Such measures would be unprecedented for the Anglican faith, where national branches and local dioceses prize their independence. Anglicans have ''lived authority, rather than a defined authority,'' Griswold said.
Years ago, the Episcopal Church passed a paper opposing homosexual behavior, but in practice it allows bishops to ordain actively gay and lesbian clergy, and parish clergy to perform wedding-like ceremonies for same-sex couples.
Last July's annual church convention made it clear nothing will be done to change that situation.
Griswold told reporters the conservatives' continuing emphasis on sexual morality ''implies that sexuality is more important than salvation in Jesus Christ, which is idolatry.''
He also found it ''curious'' that conservatives accepted the Episcopal Church's past shift to allow remarriage of divorced members with little resistance. On that issue, he said, ''the church has set aside what