DENVER — The man who last year won a bruising battle to disconnect his brain-damaged wife from a feeding tube is campaigning against government intrusion around the country.
The political action committee formed by Michael Schiavo – whose wife, Terri, died after a seven-year court and political fight that reached Capitol Hill – has raised about $25,000 and is targeting races in Colorado, Florida and Texas.
Schiavo came to Colorado on Wednesday to support Democratic candidates for the U.S. House, including Angie Paccione, who is challenging Rep. Marilyn Musgrave. Musgrave spoke last year on the floor of the House against allowing Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube to be removed.
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“I want to ask Marilyn Musgrave who gave her the right to speak about Terri,” Schiavo said. “Who gave her the authority to bring Congress into my family decisions?”
Musgrave, who represents a sprawling district in eastern Colorado, issued a statement saying, “I have only compassion for Michael and Terri’s family, and all those who have lost a loved one.”
Pat Anderson, a Florida attorney who represented Terri Schiavo’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, said she found Michael Schiavo’s political campaigning offensive.
“Somebody needs to tell this guy his 15 minutes of fame are up,” she said.
Terri Schiavo collapsed in 1990, her heart stopped and she suffered what doctors said was irreversible brain damage that left her in a permanent vegetative state. Michael Schiavo said his wife had told him she wouldn’t want to be kept alive artificially, and in 1998 he asked a court to allow her feeding tube to be removed.
Her parents fought the request in the courts, and congressional leaders from both parties agreed on a bill to let a federal court to review the case and prolong Terry Schiavo’s life. Michael Schiavo, 43, won final approval to remove the tube in March 2005.
State GOP chairman Bob Martinez criticized Schiavo’s involvement in Colorado, saying he thinks most residents “were appalled to learn that Michael Schiavo is helping political candidates profit off his wife’s death.”
But Peggy Lamm, another Democratic congressional candidate, said she is proud of Schiavo’s support.
“He wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for the shameful way the Schiavos were treated by the Bush administration and the Republicans in Congress,” she said in a statement.
Schiavo has remarried, co-authored a book titled “Terri: The Truth” and has said he is determined to develop a political career.