Thursday, October 08, 2015

Grayson On The New McCarthyism: You're Not Supposed To Use Taxpayer Funds For A Political Witch Hunt


Sensibly, the New York Times is now calling for Congress to shut down the Benghazi Committee, as have many Members of Congress, including Rules Committee ranking member Louise Slaughter. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando went one step further and filed an ethics complaint today against Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Benghazi Committee chairman Trey Gowdy. Yesterday's Times editorial demanded that if the GOP refuses to disband the committee, they at least rename it "the Inquisition of Hillary Rodham Clinton" committee, although I think MSNBC's Morning Joe already has that name copywritten.
Lawmakers have long abused their investigative authority for political purposes. But the effort to find Mrs. Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time of the Libya attacks, was personally responsible for the deaths has lost any semblance of credibility. It’s become an insult to the memory of four slain Americans.

The deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and his colleagues have been exhaustively investigated by several other congressional committees and an independent panel of experts commissioned by the Department of State. The reviews found systemic failings at the State Department. But they found no evidence that Mrs. Clinton was directly responsible for the security lapses, which, of course, is the goal of the Republicans who want to derail her presidential bid. The possibility that all those investigators have somehow missed a crucial, damning piece of evidence seems negligible.

Led by Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, a former federal prosecutor, the Benghazi committee has trudged on, summoning a seemingly endless list of witnesses who have offered little new substantive information about the attacks. Since it was impaneled in May 2014, the committee has spent more than critical congressional committees, including the House Intelligence and Veterans’ Affairs Committees, which have oversight over bureaucracies with multibillion-dollar budgets.

“There’s nothing to justify the committee’s long duration or expense,” said Representative Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California who sits on the committee and has called for it to be disbanded. “We have nothing to tell the families and nothing to tell the American people.

Mrs. Clinton is scheduled to testify before the committee on Oct. 22. The hearing will give Republicans another chance to attack the credibility and trustworthiness of the leading Democratic presidential candidate. It will do nothing to make American embassies abroad safer or help the relatives of the four killed in Libya.

The hearing should be the last salvo for a committee that has accomplished nothing. If the Republicans insist on keeping the process alive, the Democrats should stop participating in this charade.
With the exception of 7 right-wing Democrats who vote with the GOP as their default position-- only three of whom, Patrick Murphy (FL), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and Collin Peterson (MN), are still in Congress-- all Democrats knew this was a charade from day one. Idiotically, Murphy now claims that he was 100% confident the committee would vindicate Clinton. Yesterday's Washington Post reported that Trey Gowdy is still conspiring with Murphy and the two other creeps:
When people tell the story of Clinton, Benghazi and the Republican Congress, Gowdy will be a central figure-- maybe a protagonist or antagonist, depending on your point of view. The reality, of course, is blurred. But McCarthy’s comment allowed Democrats to say with new authority what they have argued all along: that the panel is a political tool for Republicans to undermine Clinton. Gowdy says he will strive to correct the record, not only on the left but within his own party, when Clinton comes to before his panel on Oct. 22.

“There were seven Democrats that voted to form the Benghazi Committee, and I have talked to some of the ones who are still in the House because what Kevin said put them in an incredibly bad position,” Gowdy said.” I told them, ‘I want you to tell the people who are criticizing you for taking a chance on us to watch on the 22nd. If they think she’s being treated unfairly they can take it out on you. But that’s not what they are going to see.'”

Grayson, you may recall, has been an outspoken opponent of the Benghazi Committee from the day it was proposed. Last year we had even suggested to Pelosi that she appoint him-- and only him-- as the sole Democratic member so that he could make the Republicans rue the day they had ever come up with this routine. "As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I have read every email, every brief, and every classified memo about the tragic events in Benghazi," he said. "There is not one scintilla of evidence that anyone in the State Department, from entry-level employees to Secretary Clinton herself, took any action that put lives at risk, or covered up anything." At one Foreign Affairs hearing, Congressman Grayson referred to Benghazi as "the scandal that never was." Today he reiterated that the Committee "has been a political dog-and-pony show for its entire 17-month history. It has been clear even to casual observers that the purpose of the committee was never to investigate the tragic death of four Americans in a terrorist attack; it was to attack Hillary Clinton. I am asking OCE to investigate how Reps. McCarthy and Gowdy misused $4.5 million of taxpayer money in an unscrupulous attempt to torpedo Secretary Hillary Clinton’s campaign for President."

Today Grayson called McCarthy's Benghazi comments "a callous admission that demands an investigation," and referred to the committee as a "Stalinesque showtrial," part of the Republican Party's "new McCarthyism." Eeveryone but Murphy, Sinema and Peterson already knew the committee’s only real objective was to hurt Hillary Clinton politically, which is certainly what McCarthy (Kevin, not Joe) implied.

This is the full letter Grayson sent to David Skaggs at the Office of Congressional Ethics:
Dear Mr. Skaggs:

Pursuant to Rule 3(a) of the Office of Congressional Ethics Rules for the Conduct of Investigations, this letter constitutes a complaint against Representatives Kevin McCarthy and Harold “Trey” Gowdy for flagrant violations of 31 U.S.C. § 1301(a) and the regulations implementing that statute by the House Committee on Administration, in the Committees' Congressional Handbook.  Specifically, Representatives Kevin McCarthy and Trey Gowdy violated federal law and House rules by using official funds appropriated to the Select Committee on Benghazi to pay political or campaign-related expenses.

Federal law requires that appropriated funds may only be used for the purposes for which they were appropriated.   House Administration Committee regulations implement this law by requiring that: "Committee funds may only be used to support the conduct of official business of the committee.  Committee funds may not be used to defray any personal, political or campaign-related expenses . . . ."  The House Ethics Manual stresses that this general prohibition against the use of official resources for campaign or political purposes "applies not only to any Member campaign for re-election, but rather to any campaign or political undertaking" (emphasis in original).   The prohibition applies to "campaigns for the Presidency" and it applies "whether the Member is a candidate or is merely seeking to support or assist (or oppose) a candidate in such a campaign."

House Resolution No. 567 established the Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi (the “Select Committee on Benghazi”) for the purpose of conducting an investigation of the attacks on United States facilities in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.   The resolution specified that the operations of the Select Committee on Benghazi "shall be paid out of applicable accounts of the House of Representatives" (which are appropriated funds), and required that these appropriated funds "be expended in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Committee on House Administration."   Accordingly, no funds appropriated to the Select Committee on Benghazi may be used for political or campaign-related purposes, and specifically (as noted supra) not to “oppose a candidate in . . . a campaign.”

Representative Kevin McCarthy and Trey Gowdy have violated federal law and House rules by using funds appropriated to the Select Committee on Benghazi to oppose the Presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton.  On September 29, 2015, Representative McCarthy appeared on The Sean Hannity Show on Fox News, and he stated that the true purpose of the Select Committee on Benghazi was not to investigate the tragic death of four Americans killed during the terrorist attacks on U.S. facilities in Libya, but rather to drive down the poll numbers of Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.  Specifically, Representative McCarthy stated that: "Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?  We put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? ‘Cause she is untrustable. But no one would’ve known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen."   This is a clear and unequivocal misuse of appropriated funds for political purposes, which is prohibited by the regulations of the Committee on House Administration.

Congressman Gowdy is the Chair of the Benghazi Committee.  He has dragged out the work of the Committee for 17 months already, a period longer than Congress investigated Watergate. According to public reports, the Committee hasn’t held a single hearing since January.  Congressman Gowdy evidently has dragged out the work of the Committee so that it would coincide with the Democratic Presidential Primary race.  In the meantime, the Committee under Gowdy’s leadership has subpoenaed State Department employees and others close to former Secretary Clinton, in an apparent effort to generate anti-Clinton information and disinformation.

Accordingly, the Office of Congressional Ethics should conduct a complete investigation regarding the extent to which Representative McCarthy, Representative Gowdy and others unknown illegally used appropriated funds for political or campaign-related purposes.

I understand that 18 U.S.C. § 1001 applies to the information that I am providing.  To the best of my ability, I affirm that the evidence submitted was not obtained in violation of any law, rule or regulation.

UPDATE: No Lessons Learned In Crazytown

Apparently the Republicanos haven't learned their lesson-- even if doofus-Democrat Patrick Murphy has-- to stop wasting taxpayer money on their partisan ideological flights of fantasy. Deranged North Carolina Christmas tree farmer Virginia Foxx proposed starting a special witch hunt committtee against Planned Parenthood yesterday. Yes, another of their idiotic Select Committees! It passed 242 to 184. Two wretched Republicans-disguised-as-Democrats, Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN) and Dan Lipinski (Blue Dog-IL), crossed the aisle and voted with the GOP, as they almost always do. The only Republican voting with the Democrats was David Jolly, who appears to be more frightened of the general election voters in Florida than of the Republican primary voters. Jolly's aiming for the GOP nomination for the open Marco Rubio Senate seat. His Tea Party opponent, Ron DeSantis, will be trying to use this vote against him in the Republican primary. But Floridians are broadly pro-Choice and pro-Planned Parenthood, so Jolly was willing to take the chance of alienating the extremists, few of whom were going to vote for him anyway.

UPDATE #2: McCarthy Drops Speaker Bid

Right after Grayson filed his ethics complaint against McCarthy, McCarthy withdrew from his quest for the Speakership. Grayson: "When Democrats with guts stand up to corrupt Republicans, we get results. This is a victory against the new McCarthyism and the Republican witch-hunt against Hillary Clinton... Kevin McCarthy and Trey Gowdy broke federal law and violated House rules by using taxpayer money to try to bring down a Democratic presidential candidate and they should be held accountable. I will continue to fight this unethical and illegal Stalinesque show trial."

Or did McCarthy drop out because Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Freedom Caucus psychopath was threatening to expose his affair with Renee Ellmers (R-NC), which wasn't much of a secret inside the Beltway anyway but hadn't filtered back to the voters in either congressional district.
The affair is something of an open secret in Washington, D.C. Reporters at other publications, lobbyists, congressional staffers of both parties all know about it. One staffer for a congressman describes it as the “biggest open secret” in D.C. A lobbyist describes Ellmers as a “social climber who has ingratiated herself” with McCarthy.

House leadership also knows about the affair. Speaker John Boehner reportedly told McCarthy to stop the affair once McCarthy was elected Majority Leader says a well placed congressional staffer. At least one leadership staffer doesn’t think the affair ended. “They are unusually close,” says the staffer who insists that the affair is going on. “It’s weird if he’s not fucking her.”
The source is Got News, which is run by right-wing extremist Charles Johnson, whose reporting is usually found at Drudge and the Blaze. Yesterday he got a cease and desist order for writing about the Ellmers-McCarthy affair. This is getting really ugly. Is the House GOP officially in turmoil?

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