Update - Forbes's Staff Denounces Former Boss' "Lies

July 7, 2008 - 8:24 PM

Second Write-Through: Includes comments from Rep. Michael Forbes

(CNS)
- The former staff of Rep. Michael Forbes, a Republican from New York state who switched parties two weeks ago, have released a letter calling their former boss' recent statements on a talk show "unequivocal lie[s]."

On CNN's Crossfire, Forbes called Republican Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) and other members and employees of the Republican House conference "bullies" that "attacked my staff and pressured them to leave." Twelve staff members resigned their positions after Forbes announced his party identification switch.

Forbes also said that his staff was told "to be out of [his office] or they'd never work in this town again," and recounted the story of a former staffer, a mother of two, who received threatening phone calls at her home.

Wednesday, twelve of Forbes's former Washington office staff members released a letter to CNSNews.com accusing the congressman of distorting facts.

"At no time did anyone in Republican House Leadership ever, repeat ever, threaten or bully the former staff either individually or collectively to leave employment in his office," said the staffers in their letter. "They have gone above and beyond what any political party could be expected to do in such a difficult circumstance."

The letter also characterized Forbes's allegations about the mother of two as a "lie."

Todd Tolson, one of the former staffers, told CNSNews.com that the group decided to release the letter because the group "found it repulsive that he would make up these lies."

"We've never been bullied, no one has ever called him crying. . . . We just made a conscious decision to stand on principle and resign," said Tolson.

Concerning the story about the mother of two, Tolson told CNSNews.com that it was "just like Michael Forbes to pick on a woman in that way."

Mike Nerzig, a spokesperson for Forbes, told CNSNews.com that he was "not surprised" by the letter, adding, "It's simply part of a Republican-orchestrated attempt to discredit Congressman Forbes."

"It's exactly these kinds of heavy-handed tactics that made [Forbes] decide to switch in the first place," said Nerzig.

Before Forbes's party switch, 53 of his staff members resigned or were fired since 1994.

Tolson said that most staff members were likely to find new jobs within the next week.