The political action committee of the Maryland Right to Life organization yesterday endorsed Rep. Robert. E. Bauman two days after the Eastern Shore Republican agreed to enter a court-sponsored rehabilitation program stemming from an incident in which he allegedly sexually solicited a 16-year-old youth in the District of Columbia last March.
Bauman, 43, who has gained a national reputation as an advocate for conservative causes and traditional family mores in seven years of representing Maryland's first district, has a record "that really leaves us no room for not endorsing him," said Gerald Meyer, the chairman of the political action committee.
"You're talking here about a personal act," said Meyer. "For me personally, the sexual orientation perhaps is a little disturbing. But this action certainly has no bearing on his office."
Meyer said that there were "no dissents" on the 12-member political board in the endorsement of Bauman, although only four members attended yesterday's meeting. The committee is part of an anti-abortion organization that has over 30,000 members in Maryland and represents a formidable constituency in state politics.
However, Meyer said that Bauman's opponent for reelection, state Del. Roy Dyson, had been "outstanding in performance in the legislature and our endorsement will so note that."
The charges against the outspoken congressman, Meyer conceded, had put the organization in a difficult position. "How does a kick in the stomach feel?" was the way another committee member put it.
Bauman has been credited for writing the Congressional "Hyde amendment" that puts stiff restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortions. While thus championing the anti-abortion cause, he has also supported such measures as the "Family Protection Act" to "promote the values of family life."
Since appearing in a D.C. Superior Court chamber Friday attributing his actions to a struggle with alcoholism, Bauman has confined himself largely to his home outside Easton on the Eastern Shore. An aide said yesterday afternoon that Bauman did not want to speak to reporters.
Bauman also skipped an appearance this weekend at the eighth annual Bob Bauman trail ride in Fair Hill, Md., where more than 600 of his staunch supporters had gathered.
It was the first time anyone could remember that Bauman and his family had not shown up for the event in the state's far northeastern corner, but they were not forgotten as the riders gathered on horseback in the blustery cold yesterday morning for a church service.
"Dear Lord, we ask that you help and give Bob Bauman and his family strength and support as they go through the valleys of life after experiencing the mountaintop," prayed the Rev. Allen Yuniger, who led the service. Most of those who had paid $6 to attend the trail ride said they could understand Bauman's reluctance to appear. "His family should come first at this time," said a woman in a straw cowboy hat and wearing patches from Bauman trail rides of past years. "I think he probably needs some time to retrench."
But some thought Bauman's sudden reclusiveness was only making his problems worse. One man who spoke glowingly of Bauman on the trail ride's first morning shook his head Saturday night and said, "If you don't show it's like showing you think you're guilty. You can't stick your head in the sand forever."