House GOP zeroes in on Mollohan

House Republicans are turning up the heat on Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) after reports that federal investigators are looking into the lawmaker’s finances.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) sponsored automated calls to registered voters in four congressional districts last week urging them to call their representatives and ask them to tell Mollohan to resign his post on the House ethics committee. He is the ranking Democrat on the panel.

The calls took place in the districts of Reps. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.) and Chet Edwards (D-Texas) — both top Republican targets — and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. They were also placed in Mollohan’s district.

“This week, a 500-page complaint was filed against Congressman Mollohan because of his alleged orchestration of earmarked pork-barrel projects that may benefit him personally,” read a script of the calls provided by the NRCC.

Reached yesterday, Mollohan said the calls were just one part of a coordinated smear campaign being waged against him by “very sophisticated political operatives.”

“I must say this was coordinated very closely with highest echelons of Republican Party. ... It all happened in a very short time frame,” he said. Nonetheless, he said, the calls had had little effect, claiming that his offices had heard from more constituents complaining about the calls than from those asking him to step down.

Mollohan said he is not considering vacating his post.

“We’re not even contemplating that at this point,” he said. “We’re just managing this attack ... pointing out where they’re wrong and ludicrous, putting it in context and refuting the claims they’re laying side by side.”

He said he has not spoken with either Emanuel or House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) since stories about his finances broke two weeks ago in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

In an editorial, The Washington Post on Saturday called for Mollohan to step down from the committee until the matter is cleared.