by Steven Ertelt
April 7, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — While Congress debated whether or not to try to stop Terri Schiavo’s painful thirteen day starvation death and help her parents take their lawsuit to federal courts, a memo surfaced saying Terri’s plight was a "great political issue." Since then, Republicans have been accused of aiding the disabled woman for political rather than altruistic reasons.
On Wednesday, Florida Senator Mel Martinez, a pro-life Republican who sponsored the legislation to help Terri in the Senate, said a staff member wrote the anonymous memo.
IN a written statement, Senator Martinez said he discovered that a legal counsel on his Senate staff prepared the memo. The staff member resigned from his position as a result.
"It is with profound disappointment and regret that I learned today that a senior member of my staff was unilaterally responsible for this document,” Martinez said.
Martinez previously said he had not seen the document.
"Until this afternoon, I had never seen it and had no idea a copy of it had ever been in my possession,” Martinez said.
He explained that he had received it and put it in his coat pocket without looking at it. Asked for some talking points on the bill, Martinez gave Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, the memo thinking it to be generic information on his legislation.
"Unbeknownst to me … I had given him a copy of the now infamous memo," Martinez’s statement said.
Harkin called Martinez on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press and told Martinez he thought he had given the memo to him. Martinez then launched an internal investigation.
Martinez said he accepted the staff member’s resignation, though he had asked his staff earlier if they had been involved.
"I never did an investigation, as such," he said. "I just took it for granted that we wouldn’t be that stupid. It was never my intention to in any way politicize this issue."
"This type of behavior and sentiment will not be tolerated in my office,” he said.
Harkin said he believes Martinez did not intend to politicize the debate surrounding Terri Schiavo.
"I really worked in good faith with Senator Martinez on this issue and I found him to be a decent, caring person to work with on this, and so I have a lot of respect for him," Harkin said.
Martinez also indicated he apologized to Florida Senator Bill Nelson, who was mentioned in the memo as being a target for defeat in 2006 because of his stance on the Terri Schiavo bill.