Grand Old Hypocrites

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There is no dearth of hypocrisy in either of the major political parties but, unfortunately, one–the GOP–seems determined to dominate the ratings.

The ironies are countless: the party of America First, the American Dream, Morality, Protection of Children (before birth), and Opportunity for All believes in these things only when they get them what they want. If not, do whatever you have to do to achieve your goal: destroying the opposition. Seriously. Lie. Cheat. Steal. It doesn’t matter. It’s OK. Because our goal is worth it. Does this occur in Virginia? You bet!

From the May 6, 2019, The Virginian-Pilot:

A campaign staffer for ex-Congressman Scott Taylor was charged Monday with submitting forged petition signatures as part of a scheme to siphon votes from his Democratic opponent. A grand jury indicted 25-year-old Lauren Creekmore Peabody on two counts of election fraud, Circuit Court Clerk Tina Sinnen said. The crime is a felony punishable by one to 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine. An arrest warrant for Peabody was issued afterward. . . .  Peabody is one of several Taylor campaign staff members who circulated petitions to help get independent congressional candidate Shaun Brown on the ballot. State Democrats believe that Taylor, a Republican, was hoping to lure votes from [Elaine] Luria by getting Brown included in the highly competitive race. . . . Two months before the election, Brown was forced off the ballot when a Richmond Circuit Court judge ruled there were numerous instances of “out-and-out fraud” on the petitions from Taylor’s staff. . . . A week before the 2018 election, Brown, who ran against Taylor as a Democrat in 2016, was found guilty of conspiracy, fraud and theft for defrauding a government program that provided meals for needy children. She was sentenced in March to three years in prison. Taylor, whom Caldwell said cooperated with the investigation, issued a statement Monday reiterating previous claims that he didn’t know his staff had violated the law.

So what do we do when caught? First, deny. When that doesn’t work, claim no knowledge of the offense and blame others. Classic. Then you have the “the same rules don’t apply to me” variety of defense.

Take New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins, who was arrested by the FBI last summer alongside his son and the father of his son’s fiancée on insider trading charges. His trial awaits. But indictment doesn’t ensure political defeat: He was reelected to Congress last November.

And remember the infamous Kavanaugh hearings of last September? This New Yorker headline summarizes GOP activity: E-mails Show That Republican Senate Staff Stymied a Kavanaugh Accuser’s Effort to Give Testimony.

And congressmen accused of sexual misconduct since #MeToo? Sure, we have those too. . . .

Rep. Pat Meehan (R-PA) announced his resignation from Congress in April 2018 following reports that he used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment complaint with a former aide. Meehan had previously announced he would not run for re-election, citing sparing his staff from an Ethics investigation as the cause for the early exit. Meehan repaid the $39,000 severance payment to the aide made from his office account within a month of leaving the House. Meehan reportedly became hostile when he learned that the aide, who is much younger, did not reciprocate his feelings and was involved in a relationship with another man.

What makes this behavior especially egregious is the utter hypocrisy: Republicans give lip service in their campaigns to morality and family values, yet seem to commit actions that go against these more frequently than does their opposition. Remember the Clinton impeachment? Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) talked about “cleansing” the White House. Do you hear that today? Personal misconduct is fair game–as long as it’s on the other side.

Two more legislators also on the congressional resign-because-of sexual-harassment list:

  • Trent Franks (R-AZ): Franks had asked two female staffers to act as surrogates for him and his wife, but it wasn’t clear if the congressman was expecting them to have sexual relations with him. In addition, a former Franks staffer said the congressman offered her $5 million to carry his child. He lost reelection.
  • Blake Farenthold (R-TX): Farenthold resigned from Congress in April 2018 after news broke that he had settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with taxpayer money. In early December the Treasury Department disclosed that it had paid $84,000 in taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit with Farenthold’s former communications director.

And less than 2 months ago, this headline: Disciplinary Commission accuses [Indiana Republican] AG Curtis Hill of professional misconduct. Consisting of what? Drunkenly groping a lawmaker and three legislative staffers at a bar. Hill denies the claims; no final action has yet been taken.

And do we recall this headline, from February: GOP Finally Has Documented Case of Election Fraud — Committed by Republicans [in N.C.]. As reporter Ed Kilgore wrote in the Intelligencer, 

The irony is pretty rich. For years, and with ever-increasing intensity, Republicans have claimed with virtually no evidence that our democracy is menaced by election fraud. It has been their all-purpose excuse for voter suppression tactics, their rationalization for election defeats, and a central element of a Big Conspiracy Theory alleging that Democrats want open borders so they can drown good white taxpaying citizens in a sea of illegal voting by immigrants and other minorities seeking to give themselves welfare benefits.

GOP operative Leslie Dowless and his staff gathered absentee ballots from voters and offered to mail them in on the voters’ behalf. Only near relatives are allowed to do that under North Carolina law. Because of Dowless’ actions, the election of the Republican was overturned.

Are Democrats faultless? Of course not. But the recent rise of Republican miscreants where voting and sexual harassment are concerned does give one pause. A word comes to mind: hypocrisy. 


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