- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 12, 2001

Congressional Republicans and Democrats are keeping their distance from Rep. Gary A. Condit, expressing dismay over reports about the married California Democrat's affair with missing intern Chandra Levy.
"He is getting shunned," a senior House Republican aide said yesterday. "It's so messy, so bad. No smart politician is going to touch the issue."
Aides to House Democrats and Republicans said their bosses don't even talk privately about Mr. Condit's situation in fear of their comments being leaked to the press and their names being attached to Mr. Condit. The aides spoke on the condition of anonymity, worried about their bosses' image.
Mr. Condit's relationship with the 24-year-old intern has been speculated about and scrutinized since Miss Levy was last seen on April 30. House members have been less than eager to rush to his defense since reports last week that Mr. Condit conceded to investigators that he had an affair with Miss Levy.
"The whole thing is just so unsavory," said another senior Republican aide, adding that he is declining requests for his boss to appear on political talk shows on CNN and Fox News.
On Capitol Hill, House members, staffers and interns have been glued to their television screens for even the smallest tidbit of news in the Levy case, even if it is just repeat footage of Mr. Condit walking through the halls of Congress or leaving his Adams Morgan apartment.
"We have it on Fox News right now; it's addicting," said a Democratic House aide.
"You can't help but watch it," a senior Republican aide said.
Tourists and reporters yesterday huddled outside Mr. Condit's second-floor office in the Rayburn House Office Building. Groups of grade-schoolers and teen-agers gawked at the closed door and Mr. Condit's nameplate, and had their photos taken in front of the office.
A U.S. Capitol Police officer patrolled around Mr. Condit's corner office and occasionally escorted some of his staffers, who have been hounded by reporters as they walk out of nearby restrooms. Mr. Condit's office did not return phone calls seeking comment.
"The mood in there is pretty gloomy," said a House aide who has visited Mr. Condit's office.
Mr. Condit, who has continued to attend roll-call votes since coming back from the Fourth of July recess, has been noticeably absent from Hill events as he tries to duck the press, onlookers and fellow members.
On Tuesday, Mr. Condit was not part of news conference on energy policy by the Blue Dog Democrats, a group of conservative congressmen that Mr. Condit co-founded. Democratic aides said Mr. Condit has been asked not to attend the party's California caucus meetings.
Most members and aides, such as Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat, have stressed that Miss Levy is still missing, and that any investigation should not lose sight of that.
"Jim, I just have no idea where she is," Mr. Moran quoted Mr. Condit as once telling him, according to CNN.
Republican House aides and strategists said Mr. Condit has worked independently of the Democratic Party and has had a consistent vote on conservative issues. But even House Majority Leader Dick Armey and House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, both Texas Republicans, want nothing to do with him.
"The GOP doesn't need him now," one House leadership aide said.
Frustration grew yesterday, Democratic House aides said, after it was revealed that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, had urged Mr. Condit to go public about his romantic relationship but he did not heed her advice.
"It's a big disappointment," one aide said. "You can't lie and he has told some whoppers."
Meanwhile, the conservative legal watchdog group Judicial Watch filed a complaint Tuesday against Mr. Condit with the House Standards of Official Conduct Committee. Judicial Watch President Larry Klayman said Congress is "circling the wagons" to protect one of its own, adding that the complaint is to draw attention to Mr. Condit's situation and "the dual system of justice where politicians are above the law."
Judicial Watch wants Mr. Condit to resign and be a focus of the police investigation in Miss Levy's disappearance, Mr. Klayman said. "He lied to the police; he lied to the American people."
Police have not charged Mr. Condit, 53, with any crime and have said he is not a suspect in Miss Levy's disappearance.

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