With friends like these on the Democratic side, Rep. Steny Hoyer doesn't need enemies.
The liberal blog Firedoglake.com, channeling widespread anger over an intelligence bill compromise that would allow courts to grant telecom firms lawsuit immunity, has raised over $200,000 to run ads agains Hoyer, the House Majority Leader, in his home district in suburban Maryland.
Liberals are angry that Hoyer, as the lead House Democratic negotiator on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act bill, brokered a deal that would allow a federal court to sign off on retroactive lawsuit immunity for telecom firms that allowed warrantless wiretaps by U.S. intelligence agencies. Earlier Friday 128 House Democrats voted against the FISA bill. The Bush administration has long sought immunity for telecom companies, and many Republicans are crowing about a major win with passage of the bill before a Democratic Congress.
Jane Hamsher, who runs Firedoglake.com, said Hoyer and other moderate Democrats will be the targets of advertisements criticizing them for backing this compromise.
"He's the new Joe Lieberman," Hamsher said, comparing Hoyer to the Connecticut Democrat who has largely abandoned his party over the war in Iraq.
Hoyer's staff is unfazed by the grassroots effort, saying that the congressman's office has received very few calls complaining about the FISA deal.
"Ads against Hoyer from ultra-liberal bloggers actually help him," said one aide close to Hoyer. "His district is actually pretty middle-of-the-road."