As a former canvasser for U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG), I feel compelled to respond to Jay Scheiner's letter {June 24}, which uses illogic and innuendo in an attempt to smear the hard-earned reputation of the many PIRGs across the nation.

After knocking MaryPIRG for not having engaged student participation in the past, Mr. Scheiner, president of the University of Maryland chapter of College Republicans, criticizes the organization for hiring as its new head a full-time director with experience at the national PIRG rather than a part-time, undergraduate, student intern. The reason PIRGs often select directors with experience at USPIRG is precisely because their background there prepares them for the task of engaging active student participation -- which is, after all, the ultimate goal of PIRGs. Mr. Scheiner also criticizes the fact that this full-time director will receive $12,000 in salary and benefits annually. Is this an excessive salary for a director with a law degree who will on average work more than 60 hours per week with no overtime pay?

It is outrageous that Mr. Scheiner would accuse PIRGs of engaging in "sordid activities." What does he have in mind? Campaigning for clean air and water? Lobbying for consumer protection legislation? The most controversial activities he can point to are lobbying for divestment and nuclear arms reduction, yet he gives no evidence that these two positions were not supported by the student body of the University of Maryland, which composes much of the membership of MaryPIRG.

Mr. Scheiner has a constitutional right to express his opinions, but the next time he accuses any group of not acting in the public interest, he should try and find some evidence to support his claim.

ALAN J. KUPERMAN Washington