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A Stalemate Finale: Ending a lengthy standoff with Congress, President Clinton has named Bill Lann Lee to head the civil rights division of the Department of Justice.

Mr. Lee has served in the position in an acting capacity since December 1997, but the Senate has failed for three years to confirm him as the permanent division chief. In appointing Mr. Lee to the post during the current congressional recess, the president was able to act without Senate approval.

The last confirmed civil rights chief at the Justice Department was Deval L. Patrick, who left the agency in early 1997.

Some Senate Republicans fought to block Mr. Lee's appointment and criticized his record of support for affirmative action and school busing. The civil rights division oversees school desegregation orders.

Before joining the Justice Department, Mr. Lee was the Western regional counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund from 1989 to 1997.

Partisan Switch: In the wake of his crushing loss in the Democratic primary in March, Rep. Matthew G. Martinez has joined the Republican Party.

The nine-term member from California's 31st Congressional District became a Republican in July after he voted with Republicans on several key pieces of legislation this summer. When he lost his primary election by a landslide to Hilda Solis, Mr. Martinez, who was a leading Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, blasted the Democratic Party for not doing more to help him win re-election.

"I didn't leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me," Mr. Martinez said at a July 26 Republican National Committee meeting.

Some observers speculate that the 71-year-old will run for Congress again in 2002. An aide to Mr. Martinez said her boss was interested in staying in public life, but declined further comment on his plans.

—Erik W. Robelen & Joetta L. Sack

Vol. 20, Issue 1, Page 44

Published in Print: September 6, 2000, as Federal File

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