Did Kevin McCarthy’s quit the race for Speaker of the House after he received a personal threat about allegations he had an affair? A piece of enterprise reporting by The Huffington Post bolsters those who have thought it could have played a role — as does the context of what Republicans and the entire country now seen unfolding in the GOP-controlled House:
The article by HP Senior Media Reporter Michael Calderone is titled: Kevin McCarthy’s Exit Came After Personal Threat Over Affair Allegations
“Why not resign like Bob Livingston?”
Here’s a chunk of it:
In the hours before House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) abruptly withdrew his candidacy to be the next speaker of the House, he was sent an email from a conservative activist threatening to expose an alleged affair with a colleague. The subject line: “Kevin, why not resign like Bob Livingston?”
The email, sent just after 8 a.m. on Thursday, came from Steve Baer, a Chicago-based GOP donor known for mass-emailing conservative figures and Republican lawmakers. It was addressed to McCarthy and numerous others, including the personal account of Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), who conservative media sites have suggested is tied romantically to McCarthy.
McCarthy has brushed off the affair allegation. After announcing that he would not seek the speaker’s post on Thursday, he was asked about Wednesday’s cryptic letter from Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), which asked that “any candidate for speaker of the House, majority leader, and majority whip withdraw himself from the leadership election if there are any misdeeds he has committed since joining Congress that will embarrass himself, the Republican conference, and the House of Representatives if they become public.”
“No. No. Come on,” said McCarthy. His decision to withdraw, he said, was to ensure that fellow GOP members didn’t have a tough vote. “For us to unite, we probably need a fresh face,” he said.
A story in Politico explains McCarthy’s reasons for getting out of the race. The basic reason: it’d be nearly impossible job. The lede: “The doubts haunted Kevin McCarthy. Publicly, he projected an air of confidence, the appearance of the man who would be the next speaker of the House. But in private, his allies told him the pursuit for power was changing him and he wasn’t himself. Some said that even if he won, he couldn’t govern.”
But The Huffington Post says it has proof of the threatening emails:
But the existence of the Baer email, passed to The Huffington Post by a source, shows that there were personal threats being made prior to McCarthy’s abrupt announcement.
In the email, Baer linked to a Washington Examiner story published earlier Thursday with the headline: “Specter of sex scandal injected into GOP leadership race.” The article referenced Jones’ letter in the context of Speaker-elect Bob Livingston abruptly resigning in 1998 following a sex scandal.
Baer urged McCarthy to spare his family and congressional colleagues the ordeal of the allegations being raised, and suggested that concealing an affair would be a national security risk because of the possibility of extortion.
Few news organizations have touched the affair allegations, beyond the Drudge Report and conservative media. Charles Johnson, the conservative provocateur behind GotNews.com, reported them back in January. (Johnson, who is currently banned from Twitter, took a victory lap Thursday on Facebook.)
The rumors gained more traction in the last week in conservative circles, perhaps partly due to Baer’s multiple emails over that time, sent to a string of high-powered Republicans.
RedState editor-in-chief and radio host Erick Erickson wrote Thursday that someone sent links to blog posts about the alleged affair a few days ago to 91 people, including members of Congress and “highly influential conservatives outside Congress.” Erickson added that “there’s no evidence of the rumor being true.”
Erickson didn’t name the email sender, but The Huffington Post has confirmed it was Baer.
In Thursday’s post, Erickson wrote that a comment by Ellmers in The Hill, in the context of the rumors, further hyped the rumor mill..
Calderone notes how the mainstream media can’t handle these kinds of rumors:
Major media outlets often are reluctant to amplify such claims and famously ignored rumors of John Edwards’ infidelity during the 2008 election. While cable news was all over McCarthy’s decision to withdraw from the speaker’s race on Thursday afternoon, no hosts or guests on CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News explicitly referenced the rumors.
Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin seemed to allude to them during an MSNBC appearance, noting “there’s a lot of speculation” that McCarthy’s decision had “more to do with things outside of his professional life.”
There’s more so go to the link to read it all.
But is this surprising? If it turns out that McCarthy was basically forced out by threats to make things bumpy for him unless he got out of the way, it really should be no surprise. The McCarthy story is part of a broader story about a faction of the Republican Party in the House that is willing to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood funding, consider virtually blackmailing the United States and damaging the country’s credit rating and economy in refusing to raise the debt limit if it doesn’t get its way on policies not supported in polls, and according to statements flooding the media by Republican House members not part of that faction shows little interest in actually g-o-v-e-r-n-i-n-g.
It’s all about confronting and creating a textbook example of Tyranny of the Minority.
Calderone’s update strengthens the earlier HP report:
UPDATE: 11:06 p.m. — The Hill reported Thursday night that Baer “has been flooding lawmakers’ personal email in-boxes with blogs and articles about the McCarthy rumors
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.