As more and harsher spotlights focused Wednesday on California Congressman Gary Condit, his spokeswoman denied making pointed comments about the sexual history of missing federal intern Chandra Levy, with whom the Democrat has admitted having an affair.
According to Salon.com, Condit spokeswoman Marina Ein implied in an interview that an upcoming article in Talk magazine would report that 24-year-old Levy has a history of one-night stands.
"What about the fact that Lisa DePaulo is working on this article for Talk magazine," Ein asked rhetorically, according to Salon, "and it turns out Chandra Levy has a history of one-night stands?"
Ein on Wednesday sent a letter to Salon claiming the quotes attributed to her were "false and destructive" and demanding a retraction. She also issued a public statement emphasizing her outrage over the article.
"Yesterday, in a letter to David Talbot, the Editor of Salon.com Magazine, I issued the strongest possible denial of statements attributed to me in a Salon.com article published the day before. I reiterate without qualification what I said yesterday: I did not, and would not, make the statements that have been attributed to me," the statement said.
"I am the mother of a daughter who is approximately Chandra Levy's age, and I am a female professional. The suggestion that I would make comments like those attributed to me is abhorrent. I deeply regret any additional hurt that this incident has caused the Levy family."
Salon’s Washington bureau chief, Kerry Lauerman, said the magazine stands by its story, adding he has "complete faith" in the writer, Joshua Micah Marshall.
Marshall himself told Fox News Wednesday: "I think the quotation that I have her making speaks for itself and what she is disputing is what she meant by that. And again, to me, I think it is very clear that she was calling into question her personal background, her sexual history."
Marshall went on, "If someone says someone has a history of one-night stands ... what is a one-night stand? It is a casual sexual encounter. And when you say someone has a history of them, that means they're frequent, so ..."
Of Ein's alleged insinuation of a promiscuous Chandra, a source close to the Levy family said: "That is absolutely not true."
A spokeswoman for Talk denied the magazine is set to report that Levy had one-night stands or that DePaulo said anything of the sort.
Condit's Secret Life
Police say Condit, a 53-year-old, married Democrat who represents Levy's hometown of Modesto, Calif., is not a suspect in Levy's disappearance, which is still considered a missing-person case. Condit acknowledged having had a romantic relationship with Levy in his third interview with police on July 6, a police source said.
Much more remains to be revealed about Condit's relationships with women, according to an attorney for 39-year-old flight attendant Anne Marie Smith, who says she had a lengthy affair with the congressman.
"There are things that I've been asked not to talk to the press about because of the fact that it's a criminal investigation," lawyer James Robinson said Tuesday night on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes show. We don't want a lot of copycat witnesses coming forward saying that they also had an affair with [Condit]."
On Tuesday, Modesto residents unhappy with Condit's behavior protested outside his office, many demanding that he resign. Several of Condit's colleagues have also made the same demand.
House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., said on Wednesday that Condit's future in Congress is a matter between the congressman and his constituents.
"As to his political situation, that in the future becomes a matter between the voters in his district — as it does with all of us — and him, and he will have to deal with all that and he knows that, obviously," Gephardt said.
"But, you know, our contract gets called every two years in the House, and all of us have to stand in front of the voters and make our case."
Levy was last seen April 30, when she cancelled her membership at a Washington health club. She was preparing to return home to attend her graduation ceremony at the University of Southern California.
She was last heard from on May 1, when she surfed the Internet, including visits to Condit's committee Web sites, and sent e-mails to her family and friends.
Police resumed combing the D.C. area for clues to Chandra's disappearance at noon on Wednesday.