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February 2009


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Ex-Lawmaker Gary Condit Could Have Been More Honest With FBI and Police Investigators in Chandra Levy Case

Allan Lengel-editor of
Allan Lengel-editor of

By Allan Lengel
WASHINGTON – Sadly, in the end, ex- California Congressman Gary Condit got a raw deal in the Chandra Levy case. Sadly he brought it on with his arrogance and deceit. I say all this,  now that suspect Ingmar Guandique – who is already in prison on another case– is about to be charged in the slaying of the 24-year-old intern.

Back on June 7, 2001, as a reporter at the Washington Post, I wrote that a fairly obscure California Congressman , Gary Condit had told D.C. police that missing intern Chandra Levy had stayed over night on occasion at his apartment in D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood . When police pressed him about having an affair, he said something to the effect: “You figure it out.”

The story caused a firestorm. Condit’s attorney wrote a letter to the Washington Post demanding a retraction. His chief of staff in Modesto called me and demanded a retraction. I had four sources confirm the story. I was on solid ground. So I told his chief of staff to call the D.C. police public information office. Often for politicians, I said, they would make public statements correcting or clarifying an erroneous media report. I knew they wouldn’t correct the story because it was true.

He blurted out: “How dare you suggest we get special treatment.” The paper backed me up. The story stood. Condit quickly became a person of interest in the case.

Months later, the same staff member apologized and said none of the staff ever asked Condit point blank about the affair. They just believed what he spouted publicly.

Now, with word that someone else is expected to be charged this week, people are speaking out on Condit’s behalf.

His combative attorney at the time, Abby D. Lowell, a very able lawyer, commented in Sunday’s New York Times about the upcoming arrest: “While very good news, it is a tragedy that police and media obsession with former Congressman Condit delayed this result for eight years and caused needless pain and harm to the families involved.”

True. But Condit’s withholding of information and being less than forthright not only wasted the resources of the D.C. police and FBI, but fueled suspicion. He could have just fessed up, helped flush out some badly needed information about her activities and habits and cleared his name. Instead, he acted like someone who had a lot to hide.

To erase suspicion of being involved in her disappearance, he was supposed to confess to the affair during an interview in the summer of 2001 with TV personality Connie Chung. Instead, he refused to say whether he had an affair, despite Chung’s persistent efforts to squeeze it out of him. It was a public relations nightmare and only raised more suspicion. His handlers immediately scrambled to do some quick damage control.

As time went on, the semantics game continued. Police and FBI investigators subpoenaed Condit’s bank and credit card records, searched his apartment and took a DNA sample from him. But because Chandra’s body had not been found, she was classified as a “missing person”, not a homicide victim. Therefore, legally, no one can be labeled a “suspect” in a missing person’s case.

For Condit, he has denied having a relationship with Chandra til this day. His definition of relationship may be different than most. All I know is that the Washington Post reported last year that his semen was found one of Chandra’s articles of clothing.

So yes, it is tragic that even a guy like Condit got a bum deal. It cost him and his family plenty pain, not to mention he lost a political career. Before the Chandra affair, there were always reports that he had ambitions to run for governor of California. Instead, he lost a re-election bid to hold on to his Congressional seat.

In the end, the only ones who deserve true sympathy are Chandra’s parents, Bob and Susan Levy and Chandra’s brother Adam and relatives. Condit may never get back his political career. But the Levy’s will never get back their daughter.

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Pingback from Tickle The Wire » Exclusive: Authorities to Announce Murder Charge Today Against Long-time Suspect in Chandra Levy Case
Time March 3, 2009 at 1:32 pm

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