Interior aide quits amid complaints

WASHINGTON - An Interior Department official accused of pressuring government scientists to make their research fit her policy goals has resigned.

Julie MacDonald, deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks, submitted her resignation letter to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, an Interior spokesman said yesterday.

She resigned a week before a scheduled House committee hearing on accusations that she violated the Endangered Species Act, censored science, and mistreated staff of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

MacDonald, who was in her post since 2004, was recently rebuked by the department's inspector general, who told Congress she should face punishment for leaking information about endangered species to private groups.- AP

Sen. Hatch backs 2 new House seats

WASHINGTON - Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R., Utah) said yesterday that he was supporting legislation to create new House seats for his home state of Utah and for the District of Columbia, boosting chances that, after two centuries, residents of the nation's capital will get a vote in Congress.

Hatch joined Sen. Joe Lieberman (I., Conn.) in sponsoring the Senate version of a bill, which the House passed last month, that would add two seats to the 435-seat House, giving one to the Democratic district and another, provisionally, to Republican-leaning Utah.

Most House Republicans joined the Bush White House in opposing the bill. The support of Utah's two Republican senators was deemed crucial to success in the Senate. Hatch said his fellow Utah senator, Robert Bennett, would also co-sponsor the bill. - AP

Edwards ahead in Southern funds

WASHINGTON - John Edwards placed a distant third behind fellow Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama in first-quarter fund-raising, tallying $14 million compared with Clinton's $26 million and Obama's $25 million.

But in money raised in the South, the former North Carolina senator was the leader. From Louisiana to the Carolinas, Edwards easily beat his Democratic rivals and, perhaps more important, raised more money than the top three Republican candidates combined.

Edwards has said he was the only Democrat with any chance of winning the coveted South. The two New Yorkers considered front-runners in the 2008 race, Clinton and Republican Rudy Giuliani, fared particularly poorly in the region. - AP

Elsewhere:

Computer technicians would be obligated to report child abuse just like doctors, teachers and others who work closely with children, under measures being considered by lawmakers in Connecticut and California.

The campaign of Rep. Rick Renzi (R., Ariz.), who is under federal investigation over a land deal, agreed to pay a $25,000 fine for underreporting contributions and expenses, the Federal Election Commission said.