McHenry Takes Aim At Pelosi

Posted June 3, 2005 at 5:03pm

Freshman Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) continued his assault on Democratic House leaders last week, questioning whether Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her advisers violated House rules by discussing a Mississippi Congressional race in their Capitol Hill offices.

McHenry, who earlier this year accused House Democrats of hypocrisy on ethics, penned a letter to Pelosi Friday in response to a May 24 Roll Call article on the Leader’s possible intervention in a primary challenge to Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.).

The article reported that Pelosi and her staff had participated in discussions about Thompson’s possible primary challenge from state Rep. Chuck Espy (D), nephew of Thompson’s predecessor, former Rep. Mike Espy (D-Miss.). The article revealed that a memo had been prepared for Pelosi in April, warning that an Espy-Thompson primary “will be a scorched earth race.”

In his letter to Pelosi, McHenry said the memo — whose author’s identity was blacked out in a copy provided to Roll Call — “raises a number of questions about whether official resources have been improperly used for political purposes.”

He asks whether the memo was prepared by a Congressional staffer working on official time and using equipment in a Congressional office, and wonders whether the discussion of the primary was convened in a House office.

“Your answers are crucial if we are to ensure that House rules are indeed being practiced by you and your staff at the highest levels of Congress,” McHenry’s letter concludes.

Brendan Daly, a spokesman for Pelosi, said the memo on Thompson’s race was prepared on a staffer’s home computer at night. Daly said he was unsure of where the meeting about the primary took place.

Although just five months into his first House term, McHenry — the youngest Member of Congress at age 29 — has proven himself to be a major thorn in the side of Democratic House leaders. Several weeks ago, the freshman accused Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) of hypocrisy for their rhetoric on ethics in the wake of reports that some Democratic House Members had taken out-of-town trips paid for by lobbyists.

Daly said Pelosi has never received the previous letters McHenry has claimed to have written to her. “This is a guy who no one’s ever heard of who writes letters that no one ever sees,” Daly said. “He’s all talk and no action.”