|02-12-2006, 08:59 AM||#1|
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Cubin: No evidence she signed as co-sponsor
Cubin: No evidence she signed as co-sponsor
By NOELLE STRAUB
Star-Tribune Washington bureau Sunday, February 12, 2006
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Rep. Barbara Cubin, R-Wyo., says she doesn't think she signed paperwork to co-sponsor legislation would sell off federal lands in the West -- a proposal she opposes.
"I sincerely believe I did not put pen to paper to sponsor that legislation,” she wrote in a commentary published in today's Star-Tribune. “I believe the error that occurred was clerical in nature, but how do I prove a negative? How do I prove I did not sign?”
U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., introduced the bill on Sept. 21, 2005, with a dozen original co-sponsors listed, including Cubin.
The measure would require the federal government to quickly sell 15 percent of national forest lands and 15 percent of lands managed by Interior Department agencies, except national parks, to raise funds for Hurricane Katrina and other disaster relief.*
Cubin's staff told the Star-Tribune last month that, though she had no intention of co-sponsoring the bill, in a shuffle of paperwork she accidentally might have signed a document that listed her as a co-sponsor.
If Cubin's signature was on such a document, "we can only surmise that what happened is the wrong piece of paper got signed at a weekly members’ lunch meeting when a number of bills and letters get passed around to sign while speakers are giving their presentations," Cubin spokesman Joe Milczewski said in early January.
“She meant to sign something else, she didn't mean to co-sponsor this bill n in fact, she opposes it n and her name is being removed,” Milczewski continued in that statement. “Twenty pieces of legislation were introduced that day alone. … A mistake was apparently made that day.”
But Cubin reversed that conclusion on Friday, saying there was no evidence she had signed such a document, and she challenged the Star-Tribune to produce the document. A spokesman for Tancredo’s office, where the only copy of the document would be kept, said Friday the document could no longer be found.
Tancredo spokesman Will Adams told the Star-Tribune in early January that his office had Cubin’s signature on the paperwork to list her as a co-sponsor of the bill. On Friday, Adams reiterated that the document had existed, but he said a search for the paperwork showed the office has either lost it or disposed of it.
“We went through our pile and tried to find it, and we couldn’t find it,” Adams said.
He added that Tancredo’s office does not usually keep the papers with co-sponsors' signatures, “because this sort of thing never happens.”
Cubin wrote in her opinion piece, “I have looked into this issue for three weeks. To this day no one can produce the form I supposedly signed, not even the office of the Clerk of the House, who is the official record keeper of the entire House of Representatives.”
The clerk of the House, however, does not receive papers with the signatures of co-sponsors to any legislation. Rather, the main sponsor of the legislation simply submits a typewritten list of co-sponsors.
“You have to take the word of the two members (of Congress) involved as to what occurred,” said Jon Brandt, spokesman for the House Administration Committee, which oversees the day-to-day functions of the House of Representatives.
“The way that co-sponsors are added to legislation is that the sponsor of the legislation provides a list of co-sponsors to the House clerk, and that’s just a typewritten list,” Brandt explained. “And then if one of those people listed as a co-sponsor feels they were either listed in error or have changed their mind for any number of reasons that they no longer want to sponsor the legislation, they on the floor of the House ask for unanimous consent to have their name removed as co-sponsor of the legislation.”
He added, “Ultimately you have to take the word of the member as to what the rationale was.”
Cubin went to the House floor on Jan. 31 and asked unanimous consent to have her name removed as a co-sponsor. There was no objection to her request. Congressional records now show her as a withdrawn co-sponsor.
“Let me be clear: I have never sponsored nor co-sponsored bills mandating mass sell-offs of our public lands and I never will,” Cubin wrote in her opinion piece.
Cubin also wrote that she asked Tancredo to produce a document with her signature but that he could not.
“I have no quarrel with my good friend and colleague from Colorado, Rep. Tom Tancredo, and I’ve spoken to him about this matter,” Cubin wrote. “Clerical errors do happen and can be corrected. This situation has been corrected.”