Tuesday, February 02, 1999

GOP congressman: DeLay made threats

King voted against impeachment

The Associated Press

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        WASHINGTON — GOP Rep. Peter King of New York has written some constituents that “threats were made against me by the Republican leadership” in connection with his vote on an impeachment-related roll call in the House last year.

        “I regret that Congressional Republicans were so blinded by their opposition to President Clinton that they voted to impeach him rather than stand by the traditional principles of their party,” the independent-minded New York lawmaker wrote recently. “I also regret that threats were made against me by the Republican leadership in an attempt to keep me from voting my conscience.”

        The Associated Press obtained a copy of one letter, dated two weeks ago and written to a correspondent who had evidently contacted Mr. King to express his support for the congressman's vote against impeachment.

        Mr. King volunteered that he believed that House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., had played no role in the threats.

        Instead, he indicated that Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas, the GOP whip, had sought to retaliate.

        In a telephone interview, Mr. King said his claim of threats rested on the publication late last year of a story in which an unnamed GOP leadership aide was quoted as saying the next two years would be difficult for the congressman if he bucked the party on a key procedural vote.

        “The next day a congressman who is a representative of the leadership came to me and said they were expecting me to vote with the party,” Mr. King said in the interview. “I said I wouldn't, it was a matter of conscience and if there was ever any thought there was a chance, it ended” with the published comment by the unnamed leadership aide.

        “No one ever took the threat back,” he said. “They had three or four days after that to say it was inaccurate.”

        Mr. King said that he subsequently heard that Mr. DeLay had sought a few weeks later to deny him a subcommittee chairmanship he was in line for. He said he had been told that Mr. DeLay tried to change seniority rules to allow Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, to jump ahead and claim the subcommittee post.

        Mike Scanlon, a spokesman for Mr. DeLay, said, “Pete King has a reputation as making things up, and this is no different.”

        Mr. Scanlon did not deny, however, that Mr. DeLay had interceded on behalf of Mr. Paul, a fellow Texan.


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