Harkin said that when he read the part about the politics of the case he thought that was "rather out of line," but he said he did not discuss the matter with Martinez. Harkin said he has no complaints about Martinez.
"I really worked in good faith with Senator Martinez on this issue and I found him to be a decent, caring person to work with on this, and so I have a lot of respect for him," he said.
The memo that was circulated among Republican senators on the political advantages of supporting legislation to reinsert the Fla. woman's feeding tube. (PDF)
Martinez said Harkin called him about 5 p.m. yesterday and told him that the memo had come from his office. Martinez said he then called in his senior staff and said, "Something is wrong here." He said that Darling later confessed to John Little, Martinez's chief of staff, and that he said he did not think he had ever printed the memo.
"It was intended to be a working draft," Martinez said. "He doesn't really know how I got it."
Reached by telephone last night, Darling said it would not be appropriate for him to discuss the matter at this time.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), a member of the Rules and Administration Committee, wrote to the panel's leaders last week to ask for an investigation into the "document, its source, and how it came to be distributed."
"Those who would attempt to influence debate in the United States Senate should not hide behind anonymous pieces of paper," he said.
A Republican Senate official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not a committee spokesman, said yesterday that an informal inquiry began almost immediately and is likely to be concluded within a week.
Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said in an interview Friday that he considered it "ludicrous" to suggest that his party created the document and said Republicans were using such talk to divert responsibility.
"I guess the best defense is a good offense -- that's their theory," he said.
In interviews at the Capitol yesterday, senators from both sides said they found the case perplexing, and a sign of the intense partisanship that permeates the building. Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said that the torrent of accusations reflects the bitterness over the life-and-death issues in the Schiavo case, which he said were a proxy on both sides for what provokes "every other ugly political conversation -- that's abortion."
Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) said he believed that the memo originated with the GOP because it is "totally consistent" with how the Republicans have operated for the past four years. "They just shouldn't lose their memos," he said.