Protesters march outside fundraiser attended by Karl Rove

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Protesters carrying American flags and toilet plungers yelled "Fire Karl Rove" and "Stop the leaks" outside a fund-raiser where President Bush's senior adviser was the guest of honor.

"There seems to be no accountability. This is an example where the president shows his poor ethics," said Rachael Kennedy, an obesity prevention specialist from Richmond, Va., who carried a sign with the words "Loose lips sink ships."

About 60 people took part in the protest, including members of the liberal group, like Kennedy, and members of American Family Voices, which describes itself as an advocacy group for middle-class people.

Rove, the architect behind President Bush's election victories, is at the center of a federal investigation into a 2003 news leak that exposed the identity of a CIA officer. Some Democrats have called for his resignation.

The fundraiser was for Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-Pa., who barely defeated Democratic attorney Lois Murphy in 2004 to win his second term in the district, which is made up of parts of Berks, Chester, Montgomery and Lehigh counties in southeastern Pennsylvania. He won by 2 percentage points, despite raising $2.3 million and spending $2.1 million on the race.

John Brabender, a campaign adviser to Gerlach, said Democrats are frustrated about Murphy's loss to Gerlach.

"I think they're going to run their typical negative-after-negative-type campaign and as usual not put forward any positive ideas," Brabender said.

Murphy, who has filed to run again against Gerlach in 2006, released a statement calling on Gerlach to cancel the fundraiser.

"Until Rove's role in the controversy is explained to the satisfaction of the American people, Jim Gerlach should not seek to benefit from Rove's support for his political campaign," Murphy said.

Brabender said Gerlach did not consider canceling Rove's visit at the fundraiser because it would have sent the wrong message. He said the fundraiser was scheduled sometime ago, but he did not know the number of people expected to attend.

"In this country we respect people's rights and until a time that some court or somebody proves that somebody has done something wrong, that we treat people with respect," Brabender said.

Gerlach started the month with $742,704 on hand, and Murphy had $106,329. Another Democratic opponent, Mike Leibowitz, had $3,000 cash on hand.