Torricelli Finds Friends in Need among the GOP

By Hudson, Audrey; Boyer, Dave | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 26, 2001 | Go to article overview

Torricelli Finds Friends in Need among the GOP


Hudson, Audrey, Boyer, Dave, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


A federal probe of illegal campaign donations to Sen. Robert G. Torricelli, who led Democrats' efforts last year to regain control of the Senate, has produced no outcry from Republicans who suddenly need his vote.

"All of my Republican colleagues have been very sympathetic and very supportive," Mr. Torricelli said yesterday.

Mr. Torricelli's leadership of the Democratic Campaign Senatorial Committee produced a four-seat gain last fall and evenly split the Senate, 50-50.

But the senior senator from New Jersey has been cozying up to Republicans ever since.

He was the first Democrat to urge Vice President Al Gore to abandon the Florida presidential election recounts and sided with Republicans recently to vote for a $1.2 trillion tax cut.

Mr. Torricelli said immediately after that vote that he was willing to approve even more in tax cuts, closer to President Bush's goal of $1.6 trillion.

Republicans acknowledge privately that Mr. Torricelli is "sweating" the scrutiny of the federal investigation, but are letting the probe run its course without their criticism.

"We're just sort of waiting to see what's there. Most of us are very, very cautious," said Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican and chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.

Asked if Republicans are holding their fire because Mr. Torricelli has supported them on key votes, Mr. Santorum replied, "I don't think that has anything to do with it. On our side, we're a little bit more tolerant, believe it or not."

But a Senate Republican aide said simply, "We need him."

Sen. Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican and chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, agreed with Mr. Santorum that there is "no reason to pile on."

"The problems have been identified and we are observing [the investigation]; that's the extent of it," Mr. Frist said.

Mr. Torricelli discussed the investigation with his Democratic colleagues for the first time Tuesday and denied the charges that he accepted illegal gifts and contributions from David Chang, a New Jersey businessman.

"He was very well received, very well received," Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, said yesterday. …

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