October 02, 2006
(Crospposted at the Daily Kos.)
OH-15: Will Pryce fight for a FULL investigation?
My Representative in the United States House Of, Deborah Pryce of Ohio's 15th district, who is being challenged this November by Mary Jo Kilroy, is the House Republican Conference Chairman and the 4th-ranking member of the House GOP leadership, after Hastert, Boehner and Blunt. The unfolding "boytoy" scandal about former Rep. Mark Foley has suggested that members of the House GOP leadership knew of Foley's conduct for a long time and covered it up; both Hastert and Boehner have been implicated, as well as a number of other Republican Congressmen. In an article in today's Columbus Dispatch (look way down at the bottom), Pryce spokesmen are cited as saying that she knew nothing about the Foley matter until last week.
Now House Speaker Dennis Hastert has called for a DOJ investigation that, as Glenn Greenwald points out, would avoid looking into any complicity or cover-up on the part of House Republican leadership.
Will Deborah Pryce use her authority as a GOP leader and her recently-discovered stance as an "independent" to demand full investigation of the entire scandal, including wrongdoing on the part of other Republicans? Will she get in Denny Hastert's face, if that's what it takes? As Pryce's constituent, I fully expect and demand nothing less.
In an election year when Dubya has been dragging down Republicans all over the country, and the corrupt GOP in Ohio in particular has been an albatross for Republican candidates from the state, Deborah Pryce seems to be unwilling to talk about her role in the party. Even though she has a highly-placed leadership position, it is hardly mentioned on her House web page and apparently not at all on her campaign web site, not even on the "About Deborah" page (where she talks about keeping "classrooms safe from pedophiles"). In fact, she has attempted to style herself as an independent to distance herself from Bush and the unpopular GOP. This has included scrubbing a web logo with a picture of herself with the president from her campaign website. A campaign spokesman stated this summer that she was "adamantly opposed to privatization" of Social Security, a rather brazen flip-flop since she was part of the GOP leadership that placed a high priority on Social Security phaseout until they realized that the issue was a political loser (she co-authored the Republican playbook with Rick Santorum that advised GOP congressmen to use the word "personalization" rather than "privatization"). Pryce has been blasted for all of this by the Kilroy campaign, who have pointed out that Pryce has voted with the Republican party line 90% of the time, and that she has said of Bush, "To the last person in there, we are all behind him", and recently that "He's a leader among leaders" who has "led us in a noble way, and I am very proud of the job he has done."
Since the Foley scandal broke last week, Pryce once again has tried to duck under the radar and keep her distance from her party. She issued a rather bland and safe news release in which she condemns his behavior as reprehensible and abhorrent and calls for investigation and prosecution. Certainly no one could disagree with that, but she conspicuously did not call for any investigation into the role of House leadership.
Meanwhile, it appears that various Republican members of the House knew something about Foley's freakish interests for months and even years. Boehner has said that he spoke to Hastert about it months ago (now the two of them can't remember if they remember), and so has NRCC chairman Tom Reynolds (who seems to be sticking by his story). Rodney Alexander and John Shimkus evidently knew something about "over-friendly" emails about a year ago, and now there are reports that GOP congressional staff was warning pages about Foley five years ago.
I was originally going to write a diary about "what did she know and when did she know it", because until today she had said nothing about her knowledge of Foley's conduct (despite calls by the Kilroy campaign for her to break her silence about the affair and to return campaign funds she received from Foley's PAC, as noted in progressivearlingtonian's diary yesterday). But now there's today's Dispatch article saying that she didn't know until she was asked by a reporter last week.
As bryan points out on the Buckeye State Blog, the Dispatch seems to covering for her, burying her statement in a single sentence submerged way down at the bottom of a report about the Brown/DeWine debate on MTP. That would indeed be just like the Dispatch, being the putrid GOP propaganda rag that it is. It is indeed remarkable to think that everyone in the House Republican leadership knew about and busily covered for a pervert in their midst for months and years, except her, oblivious to it all. But unless there are new revelations that implicate her, there's no justification for accusing her of anything else; except to wonder what the hell good she is as a party leader, drifting along cluelessly while creepiness and corruption swirled all around her for years. It seems that she really is little more than a hack for the Rubber Stamp Congress, precisely what Mary Jo Kilroy has been hammering for. As Kilroy's spokesmen said in today's press release, "She would rather us believe she is incompetent than complicit. Frankly, it stretches the bounds of credibility that she didn't know about this when the leadership knew about this as far back as last November."
But now there is an opportunity for Pryce to prove her mettle as a leader and an independent, if she really wants us to believe that's what she is. Dennis Hastert has written to Alberto Gonzales asking for a Justice Department investigation that, on the face of it, appears to call for a full accounting of the entire affair (I must admit that I was fooled when I first read it). But as Dustbowl Observer points out in today's recommended diary, as well as the ever-brilliant Glenn Greenwald and Nancy Pelosi, Hastert wants to exclude any investigation of a cover-up by House members and leaders. He does this by distinguishing the "over-friendly" emails, that were known for a long time, and the explicit IMs that were allegedly only just revealed. Hastert only wants the DOJ to investigate the latter, leaving out the whole business of Republican Congressmen staying silent about what they knew, which is in fact the real scandal.
It is critical to keep in mind what this scandal is about and what it is not about. It is true that there are legal and criminal aspects to this scandal, but legal issues here are secondary at most. This is not a case involving complex federal criminal statutes or debates over whether enough evidence can be compiled demonstrating that GOP House leaders broke the law. Instead, the issue is one of political corruption and lack of character -- the fact that the GOP House leadership is so devoted to preservation of its own power that they are willing to do anything, no matter how corrupt or repugnant, to cling to that power.
The behavior of the GOP House leadership here is reprehensible and intolerable even if they are able to avoid criminal prosecution for it.
According to Deborah Pryce's claims, she has nothing to fear from an investigation of House members' complicity in the Foley scandal, and she has no excuse for going along with Hastert's farce. If she really wants to be independent, and doesn't want to associated with the kind of corruption for which Ohio Republicans have become notorious, now is the time to prove it. A break with Dennis Hastert on the investigation would be a dramatic way to do it. Party loyalty isn't always a bad thing, if it doesn't require a betrayal of basic decency, but it would be grotesque to go along with Hastert's attempt at a cover-up. If she does, she is complicit in the entire affair after all.
As a citizen of Ohio's 15th district, I call on Deborah Pryce to do the decent and right thing by pushing for a full investigation of this entire matter, and accountability from everyone involved. And do it now, before the election, because voters in the whole country have a right to the truth.
From Mary Jo Kilroy's spokesman in today's press statement:
Pryce should be as shocked and appalled at this disgusting turn of events as is every other reasonable Central Ohioan. She should demand that every member of Congress, particularly those in the leadership which she serves, with prior knowledge of the danger Foley posed to children and failed to act must immediately resign.
Mary Jo Kilroy for Congress
Ohio 15th district blog
Buckeye State Blog
Play The Pryce is Not Right!
The Pryce War