Rep. Emerson puzzled how obscenity appeared in office letter to

Thursday, April 20, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Nobody likes to get a form letter, but presumably, nobody wants to get a form letter from a member of Congress that ends with an expletive.

A recent letter from Rep. Jo Ann Emerson of Cape Girardeau to a resident of her district ended with a profane, seven-letter insult beginning with the letter A -- "i think you're an ..."

Emerson says she can't explain how the offensive language made it into the last line of the letter, which otherwise reads like a typical response to a question about last year's testimony of oil executives before the Senate Commerce Committee.

"There is no excuse for this inappropriate letter having been sent, and every apology has been made to the individual who received it," Emerson said in a written statement to The Associated Press.

"We cannot determine whether the addition to the letter was made by someone within the office or by someone with access to the office, but it is on my letterhead and the responsibility for it lies with me. "

Spokesman Jeff Connor said the office will now lock down all computer workstations when they are not being used, increase editing of outgoing mail and review policies on who has access to the office.

He declined to say whether any of Emerson's eight staff members in Washington have been disciplined.

The man who received the letter, Bill Jones, of Centerville, Mo., declined to comment Wednesday.

A copy of the letter made its way to the Missouri Democratic Party, which faxed it to the AP.

Connor said Emerson personally signed the letter, dated Feb. 15. She also included a handwritten personal message at the bottom: "PS --please forgive the delay in responding."

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