US CONGRESSMAN Gary Condit calls editorials demanding his resignation 'unfair'

Monday, August 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MODESTO, Calif. (AP) _ U.S. Rep. Gary Condit criticized the major daily newspapers in his congressional district, saying editorials that called for his resignation were ``unfair.''

Condit's statement was the first public comment concerning the case of Chandra Levy since he reportedly acknowledged an affair with the missing intern.

The editorial pages of The Modesto Bee and The Fresno Bee, two newspapers in California's Central Valley, demanded Sunday that Condit resign, not because of any marital indiscretions, but because he had violated the public's trust.

The Modesto Bee editorial, put on the newspaper's front page, called Condit's conduct during the search for Levy as ``abhorrent.''

``It is terribly unfair and disappointing that the Bee would have come to any decision about me without first allowing the investigation to continue and hearing what I have to say,'' Condit said, adding that his ''30 years in public service should have earned me that much consideration.''

Levy, 24, disappeared May 1 in Washington, D.C. The congressman confirmed he had an affair with Levy during a third interview with police, according to a police source. Police have said Condit is not a suspect in her disappearance.

``We've been giving him the benefit of the doubt,'' Mark Vasche, executive editor at The Modesto Bee, said in an interview. ``Just being upfront and honest with the people who time and time again placed their trust in him ... We just came to the conclusion that he violated that trust.''

``Both our editorial and Congressman Condit's conduct the past three months speak for themselves,'' Jim Boren, The Fresno Bee's editorial page editor, said Sunday evening.

Condit said the newspapers have run false accusations about him before, only to correct them later.

Both The Modesto Bee and The Fresno Bee are owned by McClatchy newspaper group and both cover a significant portion of Condit's district. On Wednesday, Condit's hometown weekly newspaper, The Ceres Courier, also called for his resignation.

Condit said the newspapers did not appreciate that he wanted to spend some time with his wife and children ``before I sat down for any public interview.'' Condit said he hoped his constituents would hold off on making any judgment until they hear what he has to say, which he added he plans ``to do very soon.''

The statement concluded by saying, ``As I always have done, I will rely on and live by the opinion and decision of those who I have been honored and privileged to serve.''