Libs Caught Profiting From Disaster.

Democrats’ anti-Bush petition also seeks political contributions

By DEVLIN BARRETT
Associated Press Writer

September 8, 2005, 4:13 PM EDT

WASHINGTON — A new Democratic effort to whip up indignation about the Bush administration’s handling of Hurricane Katrina also tried to raise money for Democratic candidates.

Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat and the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, issued an appeal Thursday urging people to sign an online petition to fire the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency over his handling of the Katrina response.

After an inquiry from the Associated Press, the DSCC quickly pulled down the page and said they would donate to charity any money raised by the anti-FEMA petition.

When recipients clicked on a link to the petition, the top center of the screen _ above the call to “Fire the FEMA director” _ had asked for a donation to the DSCC.

Other DSCC Web pages have the same appeal for contributions, but several do not.

Since Katrina, Democrats have charged Republicans badly botched the response, and some have called for the firing of FEMA chief Michael Brown.

In recent days, Republicans hit back by accusing Democrats of trying to use the human tragedy for political gain. The letter, the GOP said Thursday, was proof.

“It’s a disgrace to exploit Hurricane Katrina to raise political funds,” said Brian Nick, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

“They should halt this activity because it’s way over the line,” he said.

DSCC spokesman Phil Singer said: “While the content of the letter is totally valid, it should have never been linked to a Web site that asks people to contribute to political campaigns. We regret it, have removed the letter from our site and will donate any contributions raised as a result of this petition to the Red Cross.”

The letter is the latest sign that more than a week after Hurricane Katrina struck, the political fight over what went wrong in the response continues to grow.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has called for an independent commission to probe government failures before and after Katrina, while House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called Bush “oblivious, in denial, dangerous” in his approach to relief efforts.

Rep. Thomas Reynolds, head of the House Republicans’ fund-raising efforts, described Democratic criticism as “reprehensible,” saying “this is a tragedy, not an opportunity.”

The administration and Republican leaders in Congress are scrambling to launch a number of initiatives to help hurricane refugees and victims, including a new $51 billion aid package.

During the 2004 presidential campaign, some Democrats attacked President Bush for using an image of Sept. 11 devastation in a re-election campaign ad, accusing him of exploiting the tragedy. At the time, Schumer did not join in the criticism.

New York City: Democrats’ anti-Bush petition also seeks political contributions: “Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee”

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