House Majority Whip Steve Scalise has enlisted John Feehery, a Federal lobbyist with a deep hatred of the “racists” and “hucksters” who he believes make up the Tea Party, to help fill staff positions.
That’s according to a new report illustrating the disconnect between the GOP establishment and Main Street American conservatism.
The piece, written by reporters Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman, was shrugged off as a non-story by some because it focuses largely on ethical questions regarding Scalise’s decision to seek staffing advice from someone with such cozy K-Street relationships.
Quinn Gillespie & Associates’ John Feehery sat in on and participated in multiple official interviews with job candidates last month for the new majority whip’s press operation. Scalise has not yet announced who he will name as his communications director.
Sometimes lawmakers rely on lobbyists for strategic advice. But inviting a lobbyist into an interview is highly unusual. Several ethics lawyers and current and former leadership aides said they have never heard of a similar arrangement.
Scalise enjoys closer relationships with lobbyists than many House conservatives — a reality that is sometimes helpful but also adds to his reputation of being closer to the establishment wing of the party than some in the conference had wanted.
Feehery is registered to lobby on behalf of major corporations like AT&T, Sony Corp., Qualcomm, 21st Century Fox and others that have interests before Congress and the House Energy and Commerce Committee, of which Scalise is a member.
But conservative Republicans have more to fret about Feehery than his lobbying ties. He also deeply dislikes the Tea Party faction of the GOP and wants it destroyed.
Since the POLITICO story broke, there has been a lot of attention on the lobbyist’s blog “The Freehery Theory”. There, the man helping Scalise assemble a crack team of K-street-compliant staffers, offers opinions on who he thinks the GOP good guys are in posts with titles like “The Tea Party Must Be Crushed.” (Trigger Warning: He describes Mitch McConnell as “probably the most conservative leader of either party in the history of the Senate.”)
Here’s a sample:
The Tea Party was started in the middle of Barack Obama’s first year, as he moved to nationalize the auto industry, the banking industry, the health care industry, and the energy sector.
Rick Santelli, the CNBC correspondent, sparked the revolt when he asked a simple and profound question: Why do people who play by the rules have to bail out people who broke the rules?
It was a good question, and it is still a good question.
When the Tea Party started, it was a national movement of good people who were worried about the future of the country.
But today’s Tea Party has morphed into something far different. It has become a collection of wing-nuts, racists, hucksters, extremists, con-men and front-men, who collaborate with Hollywood and left-wing organizations to plot the demise of Republicans in good standing, Republicans such as Mitch McConnell, who is probably the most conservative leader of either party in the history of the Senate.
Why does Freehery dislike the Tea Party so much?
He explains in another post, titled “Tea Party Treachery”:
Its vision of conservative varies with the Tea Party group. Some of the Tea Partiers focus on immigration. Others attack crony capitalism. Still others hate all government spending. Some think the Constitution needs to be rewritten, just as they call themselves constitutional conservatives.
They hate common core standards. Hate Obamacare. Hate extending the debt limit. Hate reopening the government. Hate the NSA. Hate immigrants. Hate the establishment. Hate big corporations. Hate Labor. Hate the Federal Reserve. Hate foreigners. Hate. Hate. Hate.
Freehery’s rants are reminiscent of House Speaker John Boehner’s February declaration that the Tea Party had “lost all credibility” as he touted a two-year, $1.1 trillion budget and a separate $950 billion farm bill, both of which were widely maligned by fiscal conservatives.
The lobbyist’s current moment in the spotlight is an indication that the GOP establishment’s effort to purge lawmakers who don’t toe the party leadership’s line is alive and well. In fact, it’s likely kicking into high gear to quell the threat of a Tea Party-linked Republican stealing the thunder (and GOP primary support) of the stuffed suit the establishment leadership decides is up for a chance (or third chance) to carry the GOP Presidential ticket.