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Groups use Schiavo case to attack congressman

By Times Staff Writer
Published March 31, 2005

HOUSTON - Two liberal groups are running TV ads against Rep. Tom DeLay that mention Terri Schiavo. The groups are demanding that DeLay resign as House majority leader and urging fellow congressmen to mobilize against the Texas representative, who is under investigation for alleged ethics violations.

The ads focus on the allegations regarding DeLay's fundraising practices and travel. DeLay has not been charged with wrongdoing.

"Tom DeLay can't wash his hands of corruption by involving Congress in one family's personal tragedy. ... But Congress can certainly wash its hands of Tom DeLay," the narrator says in one ad, referring to DeLay's efforts in the Schiavo case.

DeLay spokesman Dan Allen dismissed the ads as liberals' "latest attack on a well-organized effort to move America forward."

The second ad exhorts representatives to "clean up Congress - without DeLay."

The Public Campaign Action Fund paid $25,000 to run ads in the districts of three Republicans: Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington, Rep. Tom Reynolds of New York and Rep. Rob Simmons of Connecticut.

The Campaign for America's Future, backed by labor, women's and civil rights groups, is spending $75,000 to run the Schiavo ad in Washington and in DeLay's Houston-area district.

Vatican official visits, prays with family

PINELLAS PARK - Even the Vatican had a presence Wednesday at Hospice House Woodside.

Monsignor George E. Tracy, who works for the Vatican, was vacationing in Sarasota and saw the Franciscan Brothers of Peace, who are Schindler family advisers, on television.

Tracy decided to come to Pinellas Park and pray with the family.

First lady weighs in on Schiavo case

First lady Laura Bush also commented on the case, saying the government was right to have intervened on behalf of Schiavo.

"It is a life issue that really does require government to be involved," Mrs. Bush said Tuesday aboard a plane bound for Afghanistan, where she was promoting education and women's rights.

Crowds begin to wear on hospice neighbors

The neighborhood around Terri Schiavo's hospice was showing signs of weariness about the hundreds of protesters and journalists, from as far away as Brazil and Japan, crowding the streets around the hospice.

A nearby Winn Dixie grocery store warned protesters against parking in their lot, and began towing cars on Wednesday at a cost of $160.

Some residents have made their own signs, including one who drove by in a white van on Wednesday afternoon: "Our children can't go to school because of you. Go home."

Holy Communion remains point of contention

Terri Schiavo's family criticized Michael Schiavo again Wednesday for refusing to let Terri take Holy Communion a second time since Easter. Terri last received Communion on Sunday, but her parents and a family priest have asked each day since then to administer Communion. Michael Schiavo, who controls who sees Terri, has said no.

"Obviously, that's against the religious constitutional rights that we as Americans have," Schiavo's sister, Suzanne Vitadamo, said on Janet Parshall's America, a talk show on WTBN-AM 570, a Christian radio station. "But at this point, there is no judge that upholds this. So there is nothing we can do about it."

Vitadamo said a visit Tuesday by the Rev. Jesse Jackson was uplifting for the family, especially Terri's mother.

"Mom is not doing very well at all," Vitadamo said. "Dad is the patriarch of the family. He is holding up better than I think the rest of us. ... Right now, (Mom) is having a very, very difficult time. I can't even imagine what she is going through. I am a parent myself, and it breaks my heart."

Times staff writers Jamie Thompson and David Karp contributed to this report, which used information from the Associated Press.

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