Lawmaker apologizes for email opposing debt plan

Associated Press
FILE - In this July 26, 2011 file photo, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio pauses during a news conference at The Republican National Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Boehner, a career politician who once cut deals with Ted Kennedy, finds himself with a powerful title in confronting the debt crisis but little room to maneuver between his party’s right wing and the Democrats who control the Senate and White House. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
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FILE - In this July 26, 2011 file photo, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio pauses during a news conference at The Republican National Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Boehner, a career politician who once cut deals with Ted Kennedy, finds himself with a powerful title in confronting the debt crisis but little room to maneuver between his party’s right wing and the Democrats who control the Senate and White House. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A leader of House GOP conservatives apologized to fellow Republicans Wednesday for an email sent by a staff aide to conservative groups urging them to lobby wavering lawmakers against Speaker John Boehner's debt plan.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio told House Republicans at a closed-door meeting Wednesday that a staff aide provided a list of conservative Republicans to target in opposition to the measure. Several lawmakers reacted angrily to being identified as lobbying targets by fellow Republicans, said GOP lawmakers and staff aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.

Jordan chairs the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative Republicans made up of a majority of the House GOP conference. Jordan, whose district is next to Boehner's in western Ohio, has come out against Boehner's plan to avert a debt crisis, arguing it doesn't include enough spending cuts and doesn't sufficiently guarantee there won't be any tax increases.

The RSC held a closed-door meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss the emails and Boehner's debt plan. Afterward, several members said they still supported Jordan as chairman of the group, though many were clearly peeved by the incident.

Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., described the atmosphere at the meeting as "controlled anger" over members being targeted for lobbying.

Jordan rushed past reporters after the meeting. When asked if he planned to stay on as chairman of the group, he said, "I hope so." When asked about the fate of the aide who sent the email, Jordan said, "We're communicating with the staff."

Later, Brian Straessle, a spokesman for the Republican Study Committee, said the email was not authorized by Jordan.

"Earlier this week, an RSC staffer sent an inappropriate email to outside groups that identified members of Congress he believed were undecided on the debt reduction proposal offered by the Speaker," Straessle said in an email.

"This action was clearly inappropriate and was not authorized by the chairman or any other members of the staff. This has never been — and never will be — the way we do business at the RSC," Straessle said. "We apologize to everyone affected, and we have already taken steps to ensure that it never happens again — either by this staffer or any other RSC staffer."

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Associated Press writer Larry Margasak contributed to this report.

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