- The Washington Times - Friday, July 20, 2001

Rep. Gary A. Condit is telling colleagues he has no intention of resigning his seat despite the controversy surrounding his affair with missing intern Chandra Levy.
Most members of Congress remain publicly silent on the issue, but Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, and Rep. Bob Barr, Georgia Republican, have called for Mr. Condit's resignation.
"I think his conduct is incompatible with serving as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives," said Mr. Barr.
Mr. Condit, California Democrat, is meeting privately with colleagues to reassure them he is not obstructing justice and plans to remain in Congress. But his critics remain skeptical that he will survive what they call a "public relations disaster."
"Unfortunately, we are at a point where nothing he says is credible anymore, including 'I'll resign,'" Mr. Barr said.
Revelations that Mr. Condit had an affair with the 24-year-old intern, missing since May 1, that his alibi was false and that he conducted a private lie-detector test were "starting to take its toll on members' patience with Mr. Condit," Mr. Barr said.
"The police came to him at a crucial point of the investigation and he did not comply. These are not the steps I would expect him to take if he were serious about cooperating. As a matter of fact, he is doing just the opposite," said Mr. Barr, a former prosecuting attorney.
Mr. Condit approached House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican, on Tuesday in a Capitol hallway and asked for a private meeting.
"Mr. Condit has been touching base with members, bringing them up to speed with what he's thinking and what his concerns are," said a Republican leadership aide.
"Members are asking for his resignation, and he wanted to discuss that with leaders. He's in a mood to reassure members that the best news for him would be if they find this young woman safe and sound," the aide said.
Lawmakers say privately that they are ashamed of their colleague's behavior, but many think Mr. Condit's political future should be decided by the voters in his district.
"Ultimately it's up to his constituents to make up their minds. I just hope congressional conduct doesn't become an oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp," said Rep. J.D. Hayworth, Arizona Republican.
"It's a shame we have to do this, but we're going to have to revise the ethics standards and state the obvious: Stay away from the interns," Mr. Hayworth said.
Politicians are viewing the Condit-Levy controversy in two phases: pre-confession and post-confession.
"In the pre-confession days, everybody was really ticked off at the media. In the post-confession days, everybody is just bewildered," said Rep. Jack Kingston, Georgia Republican.
"There's probably less sympathy (for Mr. Condit) and a little more distancing themselves," Mr. Kingston said.
Critics of Mr. Condit suggest he is in "survival" mode and will not give up his seat because it comes with an annual salary of $145,000 a year.
"The members are pretty shocked by all the allegations and they feel he should step down, but he won't because he needs a paycheck," said one Republican aide.
"Where else will he get a job? Whether the guy is guilty or innocent doesn't matter anyway, because he's toast in next year's election," the aide said.
Mr. Condit, 53, who has served six terms, does not qualify for a congressional pension until April 2003.
* Dave Boyer contributed to this article.

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