Strong language in fundraising letters is hardly new. But House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) has rankled even some GOP colleagues with a fiery diatribe seeking money for the National Right to Work Foundation's legal defense fund.
His six-page letter accuses "Big Labor Bosses" of using the nation's security worries "to grab more power," a move that "presents a clear and present danger to the security of the United States at home and the safety of our Armed Forces overseas." Examples are "as numerous as they are sickening," he wrote, criticizing the president of the International Association of Fire Fighters union by name.
Because the Virginia-based foundation is a nonprofit organization, DeLay noted that contributions are tax-deductible. Stefan Gleason, the group's vice president, said the foundation provides "free legal aid to employees who are victims of compulsory union abuse."
Harold Schaitberger, who heads the firefighters' union, called the letter "probably the most despicable display of demagoguery I've seen in years." He said he would demand that DeLay and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) state whether the letter represents the House GOP Conference's position.
Schaitberger said 343 of his union's members "gave their lives on 9/11. Ground Zero was almost an all-union operation. Tom DeLay wasn't there on the 12th. I was."
Rep. Jack Quinn (R-N.Y.), said, "This early in the campaign cycle, we should be trying to make friends rather than trying to alienate people. There are some of us in the Republican Party that count on the support of labor."
Top GOP Official in N.H. Quits
The executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party resigned yesterday after being accused of lying about hiring a telemarketing firm to jam Democratic phone lines on Election Day. Chuck McGee's departure was announced by party Chairwoman Jayne Millerick, the Associated Press reported.
McGee's role was described yesterday in the Manchester Union Leader, which quoted him as saying he had only vaguely heard of one of the two companies involved and that the party had not hired that company.
Police said they have contacted the Justice Department about the incident, which may have violated a state harassment law. Police Lt. Fred Roach said Milo Enterprises of Idaho was hired by GOP Marketplace of Alexandria -- which links campaigns with telephone vendors -- to make repeated hang-up calls on Nov. 5 to phone banks operated by the state Democratic Party and the city firefighters' union, hindering their efforts to give voters rides to the polls.