ATWATER, Calif. – Facing new allegations of an extramarital affair and questions about his relationship with a missing intern, Rep. Gary Condit canceled his Fourth of July appearances Wednesday.
Condit's chief of staff, Mike Lynch, said "another circumstance arose that he had to attend to," but Lynch wouldn't say what that was. Details would become clear in the next few days, Lynch added.
Organizers of three Independence Day parades said they were told that Condit feared his presence would detract from the family atmosphere, which Lynch said was a concern but not the primary one.
Residents had hoped to see Condit in his usual position at the front of parades and hear from him about the allegations.
"I think something went wrong. I just don't know what," said Oscar Young, an 84-year-old neighbor who has voted for the conservative Democrat in every election since he was a neophyte politician in his hometown of Ceres. "I'd like to hear him say something."
Condit issued a brief statement Tuesday concerning the investigation into the disappearance of Chandra Levy, a 24-year-old former Modesto resident whom Condit has described as a "great person and a good friend" and who has not been seen since April 30.
Police have said the congressman is not a suspect in Levy's disappearance, and aides have denied he was having an affair with the former intern at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. But Levy's mother has said her daughter said she was seeing Condit.
Condit on Tuesday also denied he had asked a flight attendant to withhold information from investigators.
"I have not asked anyone to refrain from discussing this matter with authorities, nor have I suggested anyone mislead the authorities," he said.
The flight attendant, Anne Marie Smith, said Monday that Condit, who is 53 and married, asked her to sign a form denying that they had an affair. Condit's lawyers at the firm of Joseph Cotchett have confirmed that the form was sent to Smith after an inquiry about their relationship from Star magazine. Smith alleges the affair lasted nearly a year.
Condit's former driver, Vince Flammini, says he told the FBI that the congressman and Smith were having an affair, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
Levy's mother, Susan, received a call from Smith during an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press in the Levy home.
"I thanked her for being brave and coming forward," Susan Levy said.
Smith's allegations could further jeopardize Condit's reputation in California's farm belt.
Marilyn Rowland said she's "confused and conflicted" about what to think. She has worked with Levy's mother on a community concert board and her husband, Chuck, worked with Condit at a Montgomery Ward department store in 1973.
"It would be nice if he'd clear the air," she said. "I just can't believe he's done anything wrong."
Susan Levy is not discussing Condit and the private meeting she had with him a week ago in Washington. She says only that she is hoping her daughter comes home alive.
On the street of her parent's home, Chandra's memory is kept alive with yellow ribbons that flap on mailboxes, lampposts and street signs. A small group of people marched along the Modesto parade route Wednesday before the official parade started to support Levy.
Each morning, neighbor Dorothy Johnson sees Susan and Robert Levy, a cancer doctor, stroll past her house.
"He'll say 'Pray for us,"' Johnson said. "He's desperate."