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Katherine Harris, the woman Democrats everywhere love to hate, could face a congressional ethics inquiry if the Florida chapter of a national seniors advocacy group gets its way. The group claims that Harris abused the powers of her office and trampled on First Amendment rights when she had her staff seize printed material — health care talking points and copies of Harris’ voting record — from retirees who attended a town hall meeting with the congresswoman in Bradenton, Fla., this summer. The Wellington, Fla.-based state affiliate of the Alliance of Retired Americans has requested an inquiry into the matter by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. Harris played a central role in the 2000 Florida recount when she served simultaneously as state co-chair of the Bush presidential campaign and as Florida secretary of state, with responsibility for administration of election procedures. She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2002. “It is unfortunate that these professional disrupters from Palm Beach seek to lengthen their 15 minutes of fame through a frivolous complaint,” Harris’ office wrote in an e-mail to the Miami Daily Business Review. The e-mail referred to the seized documents as “campaign materials.” House rules bar representatives from hosting meetings that are both political and informational. The e-mail also indicated that Harris “was not satisfied with the outcome, as legitimate issue-related materials may also have been excluded.” It concluded with an invitation to the retirees’ group to join Harris “in a constructive effort � to discuss their concerns.” ARA chapter president Tony Fransetta expressed doubt about the sincerity of Harris’ olive branch. “She slandered us with the ‘professional disrupters’ remark,” he said. “And she admitted that she messed up. We’re willing to work with her too. But she hasn’t called us.”

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