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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Gus Bilirakis, stepping out

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, a freshman from Palm Harbor, today became the first (and, so far, only) Republican member of Congress from Florida to lambaste the president's decision to commute I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's two and a half-year prison sentence.


Libby was Vice President Dick Cheney's chief staff. He was convicted earlier this year of perjury in the Valerie Plame spy case.

"I do not agree with President Bush's decision to fully commute Lewis Libby's prison sentence," Bilirakis said in a statement. "While commutation is perfectly within the President's constitutional discretion, Mr. Libby was tried by a jury of his peers and was convicted of a felony.

"The fact that Mr. Libby committed this crime while serving as a public official makes it all the more egregious. Excessive or not, Mr. Libby's sentence should be respected."

This just in: Rep. Adam Putnam of Bartow, the third-ranking House Republican, has added his piece, backing the president on this one: "I agree with the decision -- especially in light of the fact that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald admitted he knew before Libby ever testified the leak was committed by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage."

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, declined through a spokesman to comment. The Buzz hasn't yet heard back from the Bay area's other GOP House member, C.W. Bill Young of Indian Shores. A spokesman for Mel Martinez said the senator was on vacation.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 2:37pm]


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