Probe Sought in Claim Of Medicare-Vote Bribe

From, 12/09/03

The House's second-ranking Democrat yesterday called for an ethics investigation into a Michigan congressman's assertion that unnamed GOP colleagues offered $100,000 for his son's congressional campaign if the lawmaker would vote for a contentious Medicare bill.

Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) said the House ethics committee "ought to investigate," although he did not file a formal request in the case involving Rep. Nick Smith (R-Mich.).

Smith told a Michigan radio station last week that he was promised $100,000 for his son's congressional campaign if he would vote for the Republican-backed Medicare bill, a contention he later said was "technically incorrect." WKZO-AM in Kalamazoo yesterday released a Dec. 1 taped interview in which Smith said money was offered. Smith also said some members of Congress threatened to work against his son if he voted against the bill. Smith is retiring next year, and his son is seeking his seat.

"Bradley, my son, is running for office, and so the first offer was to give him $100,000-plus for his campaign and endorsement by national leadership," Smith told the station.

Smith voted against the bill, which narrowly passed. He wrote a Nov. 23 newspaper column in which he alleged "bribes and special deals were offered to convince members to vote yes." He has refused to cite names.

Smith backed away from the allegation last week, telling the Associated Press that someone outside Congress had offered his son "substantial and aggressive campaign support" and Smith assumed that meant financial support. But he said it was "technically incorrect" to say money was offered.