Support for Condit slumping in wake of new disclosures
MODESTO, Calif. (AP) – The strong support that Rep. Gary Condit once enjoyed in his home district appeared to be wavering Monday in the wake of new disclosures about his relationship with missing intern Chandra Levy.
A week ago, voters here expressed tentative support for their embattled congressman, hoping to hear more from Condit about his relationship with Levy, a 24-year-old Modesto woman last seen in Washington on April 30.
But as new details emerge and Condit continues to refer all questions to a growing number of handlers and lawyers, the once solid support he cultivated in California’s farm belt seems to be slipping.
”He’s let me down,” said Elaine Tindle, 67. ”He was really so good and I had confidence in him. He’s lost my confidence.”
Over the weekend, a source speaking on condition of anonymity said that the 53-year-old Condit, in his third interview with Washington police and the FBI, told investigators for the first time that he had had a romantic relationship with Levy.
That ran counter to statements his staff made denying any romance between Condit and the woman he referred to ”a good friend.”
Levy’s mother, Susan Levy, told reporters outside her home Monday that she has authorized her attorney to ask that Condit take a polygraph exam. ”Mr. Condit has not been very truthful to me up to now,” she said.
In Washington, D.C., Condit’s attorney Abbe Lowell told a press conference that the congressman would allow police access to his apartment if they wished, provide them telephone and cellular phone records and would make his staff available to investigators.
”The congressman will provide whatever additional information or material he can to police,” Lowell said.
He said that if the police ask about a lie detector test he would discuss it with Condit, although he doubts that polygraph tests are generally useful.
Washington police have said Condit is not a suspect in Levy’s disappearance.
In less than a week, Condit has also been hit with allegations that he had a 10-month affair with a flight attendant. And his wife has been questioned by investigators.
Each morning, Tindle and three other women walk laps at a mall as they discuss the news of the day and whatever else is on their minds. Lately the hot topic has been Condit, and the group thinks the six-term Democrat ought to resign, Tindle said.
”I feel like he’s got nothing to do with her disappearance, but all this other stuff coming out has put a black mark on him,” she said.
Some see the story as an attempt by the media to bring down a local hero.
”I think they ought to find something out before they start persecuting him,” said Jim Pilchard, an 84-year-old from Condit’s hometown of Ceres. ”I think the press should keep their noses out of everybody’s damn business.”
Some voters were bitter when Condit snubbed the local Fourth of July parades where he has been a fixture for years, but many said they were taking a wait-and-see approach before judging him.
Condit said later that he missed the parades because he was flying back to Washington so his wife, Carolyn, could be interviewed by investigators.
In this city of 189,000 that still has a small-town feel, voters say they are upset over the thought that Condit may have had an affair and lied about it.
Still, some stand behind Condit.
Todd Knutson, a 25-year-old who went to high school with Levy and has voted for Condit, said he supports the man once considered a ”shining star for this area.”
But Knutson also said he is a realist, and as far as Condit’s future is concerned, he said: ”I think he’s done.”
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