Source: The Charlotte Observer
On October 4, 2003 The Charlotte Observer reported, " U.S. Rep. Cass Ballenger blames the breakup of his 50-year marriage partly on the stress of living near a leading American Muslim advocacy group that he and his wife worried was so close to the U.S. Capitol that 'they could blow the place up.' Another stress on their marriage: the decision by 'we holier-than-thou Republicans' in the House, Ballenger said, to ban gifts -- including meals and theater tickets from lobbyists -- that once meant 'a social life for (congressional) wives.' Ballenger, a Republican from Hickory, called the Council on American-Islamic Relations -- whose headquarters are across the street from his Capitol Hill home -- a 'fund-raising arm' for terrorist groups and said he reported CAIR to the FBI and CIA. Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the group, which looks out for Muslims' civil rights and sponsors interfaith gatherings, said Friday that Ballenger's unsubstantiated remarks were bigoted. The nine-term Republican made the comments during a Wednesday evening phone interview with The Observer, in which he discussed his legal separation from his wife, Donna. It was the couple's proximity to CAIR after Sept. 11, 2001, 'bugged the hell' out of his wife, he said...CAIR, founded in 1994, has denied suggestions by some conservatives that it has ties to Hezbollah or Hamas or other groups linked to terrorist acts. 'We meet with the FBI quite often,' said Hooper. 'Our chapters have town hall meetings with the FBI to discuss discrimination and hate crimes (against Muslims).' The group also prints guides for companies that want to better understand Muslim employees."