If the appearance of "bias" is a concern of US Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), she should return at least $5,000 to Handgun Control, Inc. before criticizing John Ashcroft about his views on the Second Amendment, a leading firearms civil rights activist said today.

Feinstein announced she would oppose Ashcroft's confirmation as Attorney General, noting that, "To have an attorney general that is a present member of the NRA certainly shows bias."

But Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Bellevue, WA-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, fired back: "I suppose there's no bias when Feinstein votes against firearms freedom, while taking money from Handgun Control, Inc. If she wants to avoid the appearance of bias, she should return the $5,000 she received from HCI in 1999."

Feinstein received two contributions in 1999 for $2500 apiece from HCI, one on Oct. 1 and the other on Dec. 12, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Feinstein said she would vote against Ashcroft, criticizing the "harshness of his rhetoric," and calling him "an enormously divisive and polarizing figure." Feinstein also said Ashcroft's record "can best be characterized as ultra-right wing."

Observed Gottlieb: "Calling someone 'enormously divisive and polarizing,' and 'ultra-right wing' certainly falls under the definition of what I'd call harsh rhetoric,' and when you look at it, her accusation is pretty 'divisive and polarizing,' too."

Gottlieb said,"She's willing to condemn Ashcroft for his memebership in an association to which outstanding Americans like John F. Kennedy, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower and several other U.S. Presidents have belonged.

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