Tag Archives: Ryan J. Reilly

Laughter Is Sometimes Not The Best Medicine

Blake Aued at Athens Banner-Herald:

At Rep. Paul Broun’s town hall meeting on Tuesday, the Athens congressman asked who had driven the farthest to be there and let the winner ask the first question.

We couldn’t hear the question in the back of the packed Oglethorpe County Commission chamber, but whatever it was, it got a big laugh. According to an outraged commenter on the article, the question was, when is someone going to shoot Obama?

I’ve asked Team Broun whether that was indeed the question and haven’t gotten an answer. The commenter accurately described the questioner and the circumstances, and no one has disputed his account.

Update: Broun’s press secretary, Jessica Morris, confirmed that the question was indeed, who is going to shoot Obama? “Obviously, the question was inappropriate, so Congressman Broun moved on,” she said.

Here was Broun’s response:

The thing is, I know there’s a lot of frustration with this president. We’re going to have an election next year. Hopefully, we’ll elect somebody that’s going to be a conservative, limited-government president that will take a smaller, who will sign a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

He then segued into Republicans’ budget proposal.

Tommy Christopher at Mediaite:

During President Obama’s January State of the Union address, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA 10) became the closest thing to a “You lie!” moment, tweeting during the address “Mr. President, you don’t believe in the Constitution. You believe in socialism.” Broun became embroiled in another controversy when, at a Tuesday town hall meeting, he was asked “who is going to shoot Obama?” and responded with stunning nonchalance

Ryan J. Reilly at TPM:

Witnesses tell TPM that Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) laughed when an elderly man at his town hall meeting this week asked “Who’s gonna shoot Obama?”

Mark Farmer of Winterville, Georgia went to the meeting on Tuesday to ask a question about Social Security reform, and said in an e-mail to TPM he was “shocked by the first question and disgusted by the audience response.”

“I was gravely disappointed in the response of a U.S. Congressman who also laughed and then made no effort to correct the questioner on what constitutes proper behavior or to in any way distance himself from such hate filled language,” Farmer wrote.

Reporter Blake Aued, who was at the town hall and originally reported on the incident confirmed to TPM that Broun was “chuckling a little bit.”

Greg Sargent:

However, one group who took this seriously is the Secret Service. According to Ed Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman, the situation has been looked into.

“We’re aware of the incident and the appropriate steps were taken,” Donovan told me. “At this point it’s a closed matter.”

A law enforcement source confirmed that the Secret Service interviewed the constituent and determined that he or she was an “elderly person” who now regrets making a bad joke.

“In this case this was poor taste,” the source says. “The person realized that.”

Now there’s the small matter of whether Broun regrets not condemning the comment. My understanding is more will be forthcoming from his office on this soon, so stay tuned.

UPDATE, 11:50 a.m.: In a new statement Rep Paul Broun appears to admit he should have condemned his constituent:

Tuesday night at a town hall meeting in Oglethorpe County, Georgia an elderly man asked the abhorrent question, “Who’s going to shoot Obama?” I was stunned by the question and chose not to dignify it with a response; therefore, at that moment I moved on to the next person with a question. After the event, my office took action with the appropriate authorities.

I deeply regret that this incident happened at all. Furthermore, I condemn all statements — made in sincerity or jest — that threaten or suggest the use of violence against the President of the United States or any other public official. Such rhetoric cannot and will not be tolerated.

Steve Benen:

I certainly give Broun credit for the condemnation. I hope it’s sincere.

But at the risk of sounding picky, I have a couple of follow-up questions. First, when Broun argued he “chose not to dignify” the question, why do local media accounts have him offering a response?

Second, if Broun believes such rhetoric cannot and will not be tolerated, why did it take him three days to issue a denunciation? Is it just a coincidence that the congressman felt compelled to condemn the assassination “joke” after the media started covering it?

Ann Althouse:

If the crowd was so big, and it was a planned event, where’s the digital video? Don’t tell me the crowd was too noisy for anyone to record it AND that the crowd heard it.

Now, as is widely known, it’s a serious federal crime to threaten the life of the president, which makes it less likely that the words are as reported in the pseudo-quote. It also makes it less likely that a person of the left was trying to make trouble for Broun (a theory I see some righties are propounding). If it was said, it was said by someone who was both malevolent and stupid. Why would a whole crowd of people give a big laugh when they found themselves in the presence of someone malevolent and stupid?

Flashback to spitgate. I say, as I said then: Produce the video.

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The Hammer Is Dropped

Josh Gerstein and Mike Allen at Politico:

After almost six years of investigation, the Justice Department has decided not to bring corruption charges against former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay over his involvement with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and other ethics issues, DeLay and his attorneys said Monday.

“I always knew this day would come. My only hope was that it would come much sooner than the six years we’ve been doing this,” DeLay said Monday during a conference call with reporters. “While I will never understand why it took so long for the Justice Department to conclude that I was innocent, I am nevertheless pleased that they have made their determination.”

Heather Horn at The Atlantic with the round-up

Ryan J. Reilly at Talking Points Memo:

The Justice Department notified DeLay’s lead attorney, McGuireWoods Chairman Richard Cullen, about the decision last week, the lawyer said.

“The federal investigation of Tom DeLay is over and there will be no charges,” Cullen told Politico. “This is the so-called Abramoff investigation run by the Public Integrity section of DOJ. There have been a series of convictions and guilty pleas since 2005.”

Cullen said that DeLay “voluntarily produced to the prosecutors over 1,000 emails and documents from the DeLay office dating back to 1997. Several members of Congress objected to producing official government records under Speech or Debate Clause concerns,” Cullen said.

“DeLay took the opposite position, ordering all his staff to answer all questions. He turned over more than 1,000 documents, and several of his aides gave interviews and grand jury testimony.”

Reached by TPMMuckraker, Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney declined to comment.

Peter Stone at The Daily Beast:

From the start of the scandal, when Abramoff’s influence-peddling network was exposed in numerous stories in the national press, DeLay’s role, and especially that of his key aides, in facilitating Abramoff’s rise to power was crucial.

DeLay’s office often let Abramoff’s clients and would-be clients, Indian-owned casinos and the impoverished Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, know that if they wanted access to the Texas Republican they needed to go through Abramoff, which meant one thing: Hire him for his big fees.

While he served in Congress, DeLay took three lavish junkets paid for by Abramoff’s clients to Scotland, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Russia. These trips helped Abramoff cement his image and business: DeLay famously returned to Washington in early 1998 from the Marianas, where he golfed with Abramoff, and spearheaded successful efforts to block efforts to extend the U.S. minimum wage laws to the island’s poorly paid immigrant garment workers. And DeLay extolled the Marianas’ lack of regulation as a “perfect petri dish of capitalism.”

Abramoff cultivated his ties with DeLay not only through these trips, but also through his stellar fundraising for the Texan’s campaigns, political action committee, and favorite charities. The close links between Abramoff, aka “Casino Jack,” and DeLay, aka “the Hammer,” seemed symbiotic ones to some former GOP leadership aides who knew both men well. “Jack raised money for the pet projects of DeLay and took care of his top staff,” one ex-Capitol Hill aide told me a few years ago. “In turn they granted him tremendous access and allowed Abramoff to freely trade on DeLay’s name.”

Little wonder that DeLay was in a gloating mood on Monday when he held a phone-in press conference with reporters and declared he was “exonerated.” DeLay, who publicly announced he was going to resign from Congress not long after Rudy pleaded guilty, criticized the federal investigation as an example of the “criminalization of politics and the politics of personal destruction…”

It was the old Tom DeLay in full attack and spin mode, showing off the conservative political footwork he famously parlayed into a short-lived performance on Dancing With the Stars.

He even boasted that “the case was so weak that I was never interviewed by the investigators.”

Some lawyers familiar with the Abramoff scandal told me they think the Justice Department’s failure at least to interview DeLay, after all the time and energy it put into the probe, seems a bit odd. Even DeLay’s lead attorney, Richard Cullen, who publicly stressed how much information DeLay gave the department, told me that “we most likely would have granted the request” if DeLay had been asked for an interview.

Even if the probe into DeLay was reaching a dead end, some white-collar attorneys point out, the Justice Department should have interviewed him. “You don’t know what someone’s going to say until you talk to them,” one attorney said. “It’s a difficult decision to understand.”

Don Suber:

The Bush administration blew it.

Perhaps the prosecutorial powers of the federal government need to be reined in.

Ted Stevens, Tom DeLay, Scooter Libby…

Yikes!

One was convicted ILLEGALLY.

One was exonnerated TOO LATE.

And one is in the 14th day of jury deliberations with only 2 of 24 counts decided.

Disgusting

Ed Morrissey:

Nonetheless, the travails of DeLay and the GOP in 2006 should serve as a “stark” lesson for Republicans in the midterms.  DeLay authored the notorious “K Street Project” that attempted to build a permanent Republican majority by marrying the party to lobbyists.  That resulted in an explosion of pork and a curious predilection with so-called “big government conservatism” that exploded spending after George W. Bush took office.  That marriage of the federal government and special interests discredited the GOP as an alternative to Democrats, which combined with the scandal led to their downfall in 2006 and 2008.

No more K Street Projects, and no more big-government conservatism.  The next Republican majority had better focus on actual reductions in federal government and the end of pork-barrel spending to woo lobbyists.

And now that the Abramoff case has closed, maybe the American media can pursue the story of Paul Magliocchetti and PMA with at least half the vigor of their pursuit of the Abramoff scandal.  After all, we have another well-connected lobbyist allegedly laundering campaign contributions and winning legislative gifts for his clients.  Are they less interested in a similar scandal tied to Democrats?  And if so … why?

Jay Newton-Small at Swampland at Time:

DeLay still has one charge pending in Texas court. “I’m sure he’s very eager to see that done,” says Cullen, who is not representing DeLay in that case. A hearing in that case is scheduled for August 24 and is expected to come to trial in the fall. An email to DeLay’s office seeking comment was not immediate answered.

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