Local leaders are reacting to the death of former White House aide Charles Colson, who served as a legal counsel under President Richard Nixon and was considered the administration's hatchet-man during the Watergate era.After serving time in prison, Colson returned to public life as an influential evangelical Christian leader and founded the Prison Fellowship. The non-profit organization now provides religious support for inmates with in-prison Bible studies, mentoring programs and support for prisoner's children.Several elected officials and religious leaders have shared their memories of Colson.From Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky: "For nearly four decades, Chuck Colson's life and example have been a constant and necessary reminder to those of us in and out of public office of the seductions of power and the rewards of service. His famous redemption story and tireless advocacy on behalf of the marginalized and the outcast have called all of us to a deeper reflection on our lives and priorities. He lives on as a modern model of redemption and a permanent rebuttal to the cynical claim that there are no second chances in life."In obituaries, Colson has been described as the "evil genius" and "master of dirty tricks" behind the Nixon administration. He lead an attempt to discredit Pentagon analystDaniel Ellsberg who had leaked a classified study of the Vietnam War that became known as the Pentagon Papers.
But the former presidential aide spent the next three decades rehabilitating his image and for what it is worth, that's how many want to remember the controversial figure.U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana: "Having been given a second chance, Chuck Colson devoted his life to carrying the Christian message of second chances to those in prison, and he saw countless lives changed by his compassion and example."U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Indiana: "Marsha and I are deeply saddened by the loss of Chuck Colson. Chuck not only was a longtime friend, confidant and mentor, but he also was instrumental in my decision to engage in public service. Chuck’s post-Watergate decision to change his life for the better and establish the successful Prison Fellowship program demonstrates his faithful commitment to serving the God he loved. Marsha and I will miss Chuck greatly and we will continue to be inspired by his example of how life should be lived. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Colson family and all those who have been touched by his faithful service."