Regional Education Official at the Mailbox--Again
WASHINGTON--Representative Patricia Schroeder, Democrat of Colorado, is investigating the activities of the Education Department's regional liaison in Denver, who recently mailed at federal expense brochures supporting a statewide tuition-voucher system.
A Denver group called Citizens United to Revitalize Education has also charged that Thomas Tancredo has used his office to attack the public schools and promote a conservative, religiously oriented organization called Citizens for Excellence in Education.
This is not the first time Mr. Tancredo has been accused of using his office to promote conservative causes. In 1985, he mailed to private schools in his area copies of a speech by a department official declaring that godlessness had overrun "this Christian nation.''
When a California man wrote Mr. Tancredo to complain, he received a stinging reply from Christopher C. Sundseth, then a political appointee in the Treasury Department, calling him "an amazing, pathetic creature.'' An investigation revealed that Mr. Tancredo had sent the card to Mr. Sundseth, and the Education Department apologized for the incident.
Ms. Schroeder, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Civil Service, has asked postal officials whether Mr. Tancredo's recent mailing of the brochure violates rules on the use of federal mail privileges.
An aide to the representative said she may launch a formal subcommittee investigation into Mr. Tancredo's activities.
Mr. Tancredo said in an interview that the pro-voucher brochure was sent to people who requested information on "voucher-related activity in their states.'' The requests were made by people on the office's mailing list who checked the appropriate box on a reply card.
While the brochure on Colorado's upcoming voucher referendum is partisan rather than informational, Mr. Tancredo said: "What I sent out is exactly what I believe responded to the request.''
According to CURE, Mr. Tancredo spent official time and money speaking at functions sponsored by C.E.E., has directly endorsed the group in official speeches, appears in a promotional videotape made by the group, and has allowed his name to be used in its promotional materials.
"I would certainly deny any allegation that I have attempted to advance any religious goal or organization,'' Mr. Tancredo said. "But if someone suggests that I have been encouraging people to participate in organizations with educational goals similar to those we espouse in this office and which the Secretary [of Education] has himself articulated, I would plead guilty.''--J.M.