Matheson Rejects Claim He Opposed Hurricane Aid

Matheson Rejects Claim He Opposed Hurricane Aid

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A Republican campaign organization this week blasted Democrat congressional members -- including Utah's Rep. Jim Matheson -- for their votes on a $52 billion Hurricane Katrina relief package.

But the allegations aren't true, Matheson said.

The headline on a news release from the National Republican Congressional Committee read: "Matheson Votes Against $52B Disaster Relief Package for Katrina Survivors." The release also quotes committee chairman Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-N.Y., saying Democrats delayed a vote to engage in finger-pointing and "political gamesmanship."

But Matheson and all other House Democrats voted for the aid. Eleven House member did opposed the aid package, but all were Republicans.

"This is just par for the course," Matheson said of the release. "These guys have no shame. They lie about my record all the time."

Matheson did twice vote on two procedural moves prior to the final votes -- once siding with other Democrats to prevent halting debate of the issue, and once to suspend the rules.

NRCC spokesman Carl Fortis says those votes were essentially votes against the aid package and therefore the release is not misleading.

"He was initially voting not to have a vote on the relief package," Fortis said. "On a vote like this that would pass overwhelmingly, they wanted to kill it beforehand."

Fortis says the news release was sent before the final vote on the bill and there was no need to update it later.

He said the 11 Republicans voting against the bill had just reasons for their dissent.

"Both parties have just become experts at setting each other up on every piece of legislation," said Kirk Jowers, the director of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics and a Washington lawyer. "Rep. Matheson voted the way they wanted him to (in the final vote), but they still find a way to attack him because he didn't do it exactly the way they wanted him to."

This is not the first attack on Matheson by the NRCC regarding Matheson.

In last year's campaign against Republican John Swallow the NRCC used the State Republican Party to send out fliers slamming Matheson for co-sponsoring a bill to give undocumented workers' children resident tuition at state colleges. The flier didn't mention Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah,

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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