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Says he's been tough on former majority leader Keene Sentinel, 1/18/06
U.S. Rep. Charles F. Bass's statements at a town hall-style forum in Keene last week are prompting a round of attacks from New Hampshire Democrats, who say there's a link between Bass and the scandals plaguing top Republican leadership in Washington.
In response, Bass, R-N.H., is pointing out his leadership in the successful drive last month to permanently oust scandal-ridden former House majority leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.
"Nobody has been more outspoken on that issue than me," Bass said.
DeLay stepped down temporarily from the majority leader position last fall after he was indicted on conspiracy and money-laundering charges in his home state. Bass sponsored a petition early this month that eventually led House Republicans to make DeLay's removal permanent.
But Democrats accuse Bass of having financial links to the "Republican culture of corruption," and say Bass made false statements at last week's meeting about $15,000 in campaign funding he received more than five years ago from DeLay's political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority.
Specifically, state Democratic party Chairwoman Kathy Sullivan issued a press release Friday saying Bass was dishonest when he told the Keene group he accepted the money from DeLay's political action committee in the mid-1990s, in one of his first campaigns.
"In reality, Bass took nine separate contributions from DeLay. The contributions helped not one, but three of his campaigns. And while some contributions occurred in the mid-90s, over half of the amount he has received from DeLay was contributed in the year 2000," the release said.
Bass hasn't received any contributions from DeLay's committee since 2000, when he ran for the fourth of his six terms in Congress.
In an interview Tuesday, Bass apologized for failing to tell the whole story, saying it was an unintentional mistake. The correct information about the contributions are a matter of public record, he said.
"I apologize for misstating it and making it only 1996," he said, adding that town meetings are "sort of wild and wooly events," and he didn't have notes with him when he was asked about the contributions.
He also called it "pathetic" that Democrats are attacking him over his relationship with DeLay after he has taken a strong stand opposing DeLay's return to leadership.
This is "the wrong question for Kathy Sullivan to try to quibble with," Bass said.
New Hampshire's other GOP congressman, Rep. Jeb Bradley, and Keene native Heather Wilson of New Mexico are among those who have said since DeLay's indictment that they will return contributions from Americans for a Republican Majority, though Wilson isn't returning all she got.
But Bass hasn't returned the $15,000 his campaign received from DeLay's committee, saying the money isn't related to the charges against DeLay and was received before the events in Texas upon which DeLay's charges are based.
Bass said he will return the money if DeLay is found guilty.
"If Tom DeLay is convicted, I will return it all," he said.