Rep. Steve Schiff of New Mexico Dies at 51
ALBUQUERQUERep. Steve Schiff, a five-term member of Congress who helped research the ethics case against House Speaker Newt Gingrich, died March 25 after a battle with cancer. He was 51.
The New Mexico Republican, who had been fighting aggressive squamous-cell skin cancer for more than a year, died at his Albuquerque home.
Rep. Schiff had been absent from Washington since April but continued to conduct congressional business from home. Because of his illness, he announced in January that he would not run for reelection in November.
Gingrich had been accused of using tax-exempt groups for partisan goals. As one of two Republicans on the ethics subcommittee that investigated the speaker, Rep. Schiff was credited with helping create a compromise that allowed Gingrich to resolve the allegations. Under the plan, approved last year, Gingrich agreed to pay a $300,000 penalty to reimburse the government for investigative costs.
Rep. Schiff signed a letter to fellow Republicans declaring that the signers knew of no reason why Gingrich should not continue as House speaker. In a comment that drew criticism from Democrats, he said the speaker's misleading statements resulted from "a comedy of errors."
He also gained headlines in 1993, reopening a federal investigation into the so-called Roswell Incident, in which extraterrestrial beings were purported to have crashed northwest of Roswell, N.M., in 1947. Rep. Schiff asked the General Accounting Office, Congress's investigative arm, to seek Air Force documents relating to the incident. The Air Force said a secret high-tech spy balloon crashed, not an alien spacecraft.
Rep. Schiff was a colonel in the Air Force Reserve and served brief stints on active duty in Bosnia and the Persian Gulf after the war with Iraq.
He was a Chicago native who came to New Mexico to go to law school. He was elected to Congress after serving as district attorney in Albuquerque. He succeeded Manuel Lujan Jr., who was appointed interior secretary under President Bush.
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