- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 19, 2006

A day after he announced his campaign for clean government, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid had to apologize for a political document that his official office sent out slamming 33 Senate Republicans.

“I am writing to apologize for the tone of this document and the decision to single out individual senators for criticism in it,” the Nevada Democrat wrote in a letter yesterday that said he regrets “the current political climate in which policy disputes escalate too quickly into personal condemnation.”

Mr. Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, brought dozens of Democratic lawmakers to the Library of Congress Wednesday to watch as they signed a pledge titled “Democratic Declaration: Honest Leadership and Open Government.” They called for a number of reforms to the rules Congress operates under.

The document, part of a press release that Mr. Reid’s communications center sent out, noted contributions Republican senators have received from lobbyist Jack Abramoff and then went on to list potentially damaging issues from many of the senators’ pasts. Abramoff pleaded guilty earlier this month to a bribery conspiracy.

“Researching, compiling and distributing what amounts to nothing more than a campaign ad on the taxpayer’s dime raises serious ethical questions,” said Sen. John Cornyn, one of the document’s main targets. “Senator Reid once chaired the ethics committee, he should know better.”

The document attacked Mr. Cornyn for past statements that seemed derogatory of judges and claimed he was associated with a Republican attorneys general organization that had questionable fundraising practices.

Jim Manley, the person who runs the communications center that put out the document, said Mr. Reid did not see it before it went out.

Congressional rules prohibit campaigning from an official office.

Brian Nick, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Democrats knew the document was political from the start.

He said Mr. Reid consistently goes too far in politicking, pointing to his appearance on PBS’ “News Hour” program Wednesday, when he questioned the credibility of Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who is overseeing Senate Republicans’ reform efforts, and compared him to a mob boss.

“Having Senator Santorum talk about reform is like having John Gotti talk about doing something about organized crime,” Mr. Reid said.

That drew a rebuke and a demand for an apology from the Order Sons of Italy in America.

“For the Senate minority leader to associate the highest ranking Italian-American in the Senate with a criminal like John Gotti is beyond any political issues that may exist between the two parties,” the group said. “It shows a profound lack of respect for a Senate colleague as well as the nation’s estimated 26 million law-abiding Italian-Americans.”

Mr. Manley responded by saying, “The fact is that Senator Santorum should be the last person leading the Republican effort to reform Congress.”

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