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Ed Towns catches heat over Clemens debacle - Critics says congressman dropped the ball on Roger

A Brooklyn lawmaker is crying foul over critics who say he was cozying up to pitcher Roger Clemens when he should have instead been investigating the embattled ballplayer for using illegal performance enhancing drugs. In a letter mailed to constituents last week, Rep. Edolphus Towns said any criticism hurled his way is “unfounded and false.” Before Clemens sat before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last week, he was making the rounds around Capitol Hill, meeting with 19 members of the committee, including Towns—who even posed for a photo with the former Boston Red Sox great. Clemens is accused of using steroids and human growth hormone (HGH) to bolster what was a storied baseball career—a charge he has vehemently denied. Turns out, Towns was absent from the Feb. 13 hearing. Deputy Chief of Staff Denise Mixon said her boss had the flu and could “barely talk.” But after his meeting with Clemens, Towns had this to say about Clemens’ accuser/former trainer Brian McNamee, according to the Associated Press: “That was sort of weird, you must admit. For seven years, you hold onto it? That’s longer than Monica Lewinsky kept it.” McNamee has claimed that he injected Clemens at least 16 times with steroids and HGH in 1998, 2000 and 2001, and has said he saved physical evidence, including syringes and vials. In the constituent letter, which was dated Feb. 14, Towns states that as a senior member of the committee, he is “charged with the task of listening to all parties involved in testimony.” “It is not uncommon for legislators to meet with those parties giving testimony before a hearing because it gives us insight into any future bills that we may need to introduce in order to curb current problems and any future problems that may occur.” Towns noted that his committee is, in a sense, a toothless tiger. “Our committee cannot bring criminal or any other legal charges against Mr. Clemens. The most we can do is refer this to another agency for further investigation, such as the Department of Justice.” The Brooklyn lawmaker said had McNamee wanted to meet with him, his “door would have been open.” “However, there was never any request for a meeting made to my office, my staff, or to me personally by Mr. McNamee, his attorney, or his manager. In fact, none of the other witnesses participating in the hearing requested a meeting,” the letter reads. Towns said that there were no autographs requested by anyone on his staff or given to any of his staff members by Clemens. Legal experts have said that committee members or their staffers who received autographs from Clemens may have violated House ethics rules about accepting items valued at over $50. Towns insisted that he has “never compromised” his position as a member of Congress. “Let me reassure you that I have been in Washington doing the business of the people and working hard on behalf of my constituents. This is something that I have always done with integrity and will continue to do with integrity,” the letter reads.

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