Rep. Bob Barr is renewing his demand for a House investigation of Rep. Gary A. Condit’s conduct during the search for missing intern Chandra Levy as more colleagues call for the beleaguered California Democrat’s resignation.
“Congressman Condit’s conduct violates the general principles of public service and reflects negatively on his office and the United States House of Representatives as a whole,” Mr. Barr, Georgia Republican, said in a letter to the Standards of Official Conduct Committee.
“His improper conduct in the obstruction of justice in the investigation of Ms. Levy’s disappearance discredits the institution as a whole, not just the individual offender, thereby invoking the House’s inherent and constitutional right to protect its own integrity and reputation,” Mr. Barr said.
According to the ethics manual for House members: “A member, officer, or employee of the House of Representatives shall conduct himself at all times in a manner which shall reflect creditably on the House of Representatives.”
The manual states that everyone in government service “should uphold the Constitution, laws, and legal regulations of the United States and of all governments therein and never be a party to their evasion.”
The committee denied Mr. Barr’s first request Thursday for an investigation citing “long-standing policy” to defer investigations under review by law enforcement officials. Mr. Barr responded Friday with an outline of reports indicating Mr. Condit obstructed justice and cited the standards of conduct.
News accounts say the U.S. Attorney’s Office is investigating whether Mr. Condit obstructed justice in the investigation.
However, the ethics panel has conducted several investigations also under examination by federal investigators, including former Rep. Bud Shuster, Pennsylvania Republican, for conflict of interest.
“These standards of conduct must be applied equally and uniformly to all members of the House, regardless of party, position, seniority or state. The rules were devised to encourage members to conduct themselves in accordance with the highest ethical, moral and legal standards,” Mr. Barr said.
Rep. Fred Upton, Michigan Republican, and Rep. Scott McInnis, Colorado Republican, have joined Mr. Barr and Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott in calling for Mr. Condit’s resignation.
“If it was my daughter, I would have put my hands around his neck,” Mr. McInnis told the Durango (Colorado) Herald.
“He has focused much more on preservation of his career than on assistance to a family in deep, deep need,” Mr. McInnis said.
Mr. McInnis and Mr. Upton said Mr. Condit should resign for hindering the investigation and bringing discredit to the House of Representatives.
“The investigation and subsequent media circus that has engulfed both the nation and Washington is not conducive to getting our work done,” Mr. Upton said.
“Representative Condit’s actions aren’t just distracting they are sad and disturbing. It is for these reasons that I believe Mr. Condit should do the right thing and resign his office,” Mr. Upton said.
Republicans yesterday questioned whether Mr. Condit should resign from his sensitive post on the Select Committee on Intelligence because of the potential that he could be blackmailed to divulge classified government information.
“The intelligence committee is a very real issue,” said one Republican aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
There is mounting pressure on conservative Republicans to speak out about Mr. Condit’s role in the Levy case, but there is a “deafening silence on the Democrat side,” the aide said. So far, no House Democrats have called for Mr. Condit’s resignation.
Most Republicans are hesitant to speak publicly about their colleague for fear it will backfire on them like President Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, a scandal that Clinton defenders used to accuse Republicans of partisan zealotry.
“Once bitten, twice shy,” the aide said.