By Tracy L. Fercho and Virginia F. Mccord
WASHINGTON – Marylanders are flooding their congressmen with calls and letters demanding that President Clinton be impeached or asking that lawmakers urge him to resign.
All of the state’s congressional offices contacted Friday reported a sharp increase in constituent correspondence on the White House scandal and Congress’ handling of it.
“People feel very strongly about this,” said Diane Baker, a spokeswoman for Rep. Robert Ehrlich, R-Lutherville.
The office has not kept exact figures, but Baker said close to 2,000 people have called or written Ehrlich’s office. They are running about 10-to-1 for the president’s resignation or impeachment, she said.
Even in Democrats’ offices, the president was faring poorly.
“We are beginning to see a slight favor toward impeachment or resignation,” said Mona Miller, communication director for Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Baltimore. She said the office has been getting “a much heavier than usual response” on this issue.
Officials in seven of the state’s 10 congressional offices responded to questions yesterday about constituents’ reactions to the president’s affair.
Five said calls were largely against the president, while 3rd District Democratic Rep. Benjamin Cardin’s office said the response was about evenly split between the president’s supporters and detractors.
Only one, Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Mitchellville, said the majority of constituents were backing the president.
Aides to Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Baltimore, and Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore, and Albert Wynn, D-Largo, did not respond to repeated phone calls on the issue Friday.
“People are very passionate on either side,” said Cardin’s press secretary, Susan Sullam.
Most of Cardin’s constituents displayed an “overwhelmingly negative response to releasing the [Clinton deposition] tapes,” she said. That sentiment was echoed by callers to Mikulski’s office.
But that became a moot point Friday, said Miller, when the House Judiciary Committee voted to release the videotapes and thousands of pages of grand jury testimony in the Monica Lewinsky affair.
Hoyer’s constituents are not calling for impeachment or the release of the tapes, said his press secretary, Chris McCannell.
“The majority of our constituents believe that enough information is already out in the public domain,” McCannell said. “They think that Congress should just move on.”
By contrast, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, has “been getting heavy calls” from constituents since the beginning of last week, said Sallie Taylor, his spokeswoman.
An overwhelming majority are in favor of impeaching Clinton, she said: Of the 355 people who voiced their opinion, only 35 were against impeaching the president.
The phones “have definitely been ringing,” said Catherine Bassett, press secretary to Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R- Kennedyville.
Bassett said her office has not been tallying the numbers of people who have called in, but she estimated that about 80 percent asked Gilchrest to urge the president to resign.
Rep. Connie Morella’s office has received roughly 1,500 phone calls and e-mail messages from constituents, two-thirds of whom think Clinton should either resign or be impeached. The remaining third said it is a private issue that should be dropped.