Ohio2006 Blog

News, analysis, and comments on Ohio elections.

Tuesday, March 7

Cong. OH-18: James Brodbelt Harris (R) and the Congressman's New Clothes


Okay, just for the record, folks. By a press release dated yesterday, Congressional candidate James Brodbelt Harris (R-Zanesville) has announced that in the (likely) event of an indictment of incumbent Bob Ney (R-Heath) ... Harris expects to receive the offical endorsement of the Republican Party. This remarkable announcement deserves quotation at length:

"The Republican primary challenger in Ohio's 18th Congressional District, James Brodbelt Harris, CFA, has asked Republican leaders in Washington, the Ohio Republican Party, and county GOP Chairmen to issue statements that they will support his candidacy in the event Federal prosecutors in the Bush Administration and the Justice Department indict Rep. Bob Ney for a felony, for bribery, or for any crime against the government. ...

"Rep. Ney is the embattled incumbent at the center of the Federal Justice Dept.'s Abramoff bribery investigation and the media are also scrutinizing his involvement with an offshore Florida casino, his offshore gambling trip to Europe linked to an effort to overrule Reagan's International Security Act in order to export parts to the terrorist state of Iran, and '05 donations from his largest donor, employees of Stanford Financial Group et al, which operate banks and offshore accounts. The media are also delving again into the Congressman's history during which his former staffers were convicted of bribery crimes and when he was investigated as an Ohio legislator for receiving honoraria.

"In Ohio, the state GOP Chairman, Bob Bennett has clearly stated to the media that if Ney is indicted, then Ney should resign. ... Republican leaders in the counties and in Washington would likely feel the same way, and would make known to their Republican members, to the media, and to the country at large that the Republican Party will never endorse crimes against America. Ney reacted by repudiating what he calls the "party boss", saying to The Hill, If I am indicted, I'm running. In response, Harris asserts Republican honor:

"The Ohio Republican Party has honorably issued a statement drawing a political line in the sands of integrity. We Republicans of Ohio will not support an incumbent who is charged with a federal felony by a Republican administration. ... I personally think Ney should retire now, but if my opponent is charged with a felony, then it will be obvious to all that Ney must step down - and I would expect all officials of the Republican Party to stand behind me as I fight for our party's future and our state's honor."

My reaction to this is that I've seen this unfold before ... isn't this basically the story of The Emperor's New Clothes? I mean, to hear a Republican candidate recite the litany of investigations hanging over Ney in such detail, when Ney and the Republican establishment have been so intent on pretending them away. (It was Republican Lieutenant Governor candidate and current State Rep. Joy Padgett, I believe, who pronounced Ney innocent on the basis of having looked him square in the eye, taking advantage of the precedent set by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's videotape diagnosis of Terri Schiavo I suppose.) Well, if the fresh young eyes of James Brodbelt Harris can see Bob Ney's ethical nakedness, perhaps the rest of his subjects will stop pretending to believe in his royal garb.

But the best part of the press release has got to be "The Ohio Republican Party has honorably issued a statement drawing a political line in the sands of integrity." I knew there was a good visual metaphor for Republican ethical standards out there, but we're all indebted to Mr. Harris for articulating it.

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