Rep. Aaron Schock Says He’s Never Seen “Downton Abbey”

Congressman Aaron Schock interviewed by ABC News’ Jeff Zeleny

A few days ago I reported on the “Downton Abbey” themed congressional office of GOP Congressman Aaron Schock of Illinois.

At the time, it was a bit of a light-hearted story as gay rumors have followed the congressman for years. So, having a bright red, “Downton Abbey” inspired office seemed right up the young legislator’s alley.

Now – however – after all the attention, it seems Schock has been hit with an ethics violation inquiry as it seems he’s spent a LOT of money on decorating his office and it seems to be coming out of the taxpayer’s pocket. In addition, his decorator said he offered her services for free which is considered a violation in itself.

In December 2009 he paid $7,400 to an Illinois design/build firm called KBL Design Center, and then another $21,000 to a hardwood floor company, a building contractor and company called Old World Granite and Marble that apparently makes high-end countertops. He then spent $6,600 on an Illinois painting contractor.

Two months later, Schock spent $79,061 on furniture purchases, including $5,123 from a company called Mulnix Industries that specializes in hardwood podiums.

Around the same time, Schock spent more than $4,000 with a fine-leather furniture company called Garrett Leather.

[snip]

The Washington Post story quoted the designer of Schock’s Capitol Hill office as saying she provided her design services to Schock for free. That led the liberal group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington to file a complaint Tuesday with the House alleging that Schock may have received an improper gift.

Schock says he paid his decorator last time she worked for him, and he will again.

And, he denies having ever seen a single episode of “Downton Abbey.”

Riiiiiiiiiiight. That’s why his offices were decorated in this bold manner.

The Pope Will Address Joint Session Of Congress

Pope Francis

The Pope is coming! The Pope is coming!

The Hill is reporting today that the pope is planning to come to Washington on Sept. 22, and will address a joint session of Congress during that time.

Francis will visit the White House on Sept. 23 and celebrate Mass at Washington’s Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception later that same day, Auza added.

“And we might say really the highlight of the Washington visit might be his speech to the joint-meeting of Congress, so the Senate and the House of Representatives,” Auza told CNA.

“But these are just proposals. At the end of February there will be the first organizational visit (from a Vatican delegation), and then we will see what we could really fill in,” the archbishop added, according to CNA.

The U.S. trip will include visits to New York City and Philadelphia.

Speaker of the House John Boehner extended the invitation to address Congress last March.

Democrats File Legislation To Repeal Defense Of Marriage Act

Off to a fast start, Democrats in the House and Senate have re-introduced legislation to repeal the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

From Dallas Voice:

The Respect for Marriage Act was introduced by Reps. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida, in the House and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, in the Senate. 77 additional House members and 41 other senators have signed on.

The Supreme Court struck down the portion of DOMA barring federal recognition of same-sex marriage in 2013. Since that ruling, same-sex marriage is legal in 36 states and Washington, D.C. But same-sex marriage is still banned in 14 states, including Texas, and they do not have to recognize marriages performed elsewhere. (The Texas marriage case will be heard before the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans on Friday.) The Respect for Marriage Act would fix that.

“The vast majority of Americans live in states where same-sex couples can marry and public support for marriage equality is growing stronger by the day. We must finish the job begun by the Supreme Court by passing the Respect for Marriage Act. The Supreme Court has ruled that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional, but Congress still must repeal the law in its entirety,” Nadler said in a statement.

GOP Congressman Steve Scalise Acknowledges Speaking To White Supremacist Group

Yesterday, I reported on Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise (R) who apparently spoke at a white supremacist group’s meeting in 2002.

At first, Scalise said he didn’t remember if he did or did not attend the meeting.

Today, he says he remembers but acknowledges it was a mistake.

Via MSNBC:

“Twelve years ago, I spoke to many different Louisiana groups as a state representative, trying to build support for legislation that focused on cutting wasteful state spending, eliminating government corruption, and stopping tax hikes,” Scalise said in a statement on Tuesday.

“One of the many groups that I spoke to regarding this critical legislation was a group whose views I wholeheartedly condemn. It was a mistake I regret, and I emphatically oppose the divisive racial and religious views groups like these hold.

“I am very disappointed that anyone would try to infer otherwise for political gain. As a Catholic, these groups hold views that are vehemently opposed to my own personal faith, and I reject that kind of hateful bigotry. Those who know me best know I have always been passionate about helping, serving, and fighting for every family that I represent. And I will continue to do so.”

Speaker of the House John Boehner stands by his guy with this statement:

“More than a decade ago, Representative Scalise made an error in judgment, and he was right to acknowledge it was wrong and inappropriate,” Boehner said. “Like many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, I know Steve to be a man of high integrity and good character. He has my full confidence as our Whip, and he will continue to do great and important work for all Americans.”

Gay GOP Congressional Candidate Carl DeMaio Has ANOTHER Scandal On His Hands

Yet another scandal is rocking the campaign of Republican US House candidate Carl DeMaio as accusations of secretly authoring a UT San Diego editorial that slammed his opponent, Democratic Rep. Scott Peters have surfaced today.

From NBC 7 in San Diego:

Former DeMaio staffer Todd Bosnich said he and campaign spokesman Dave McCulloch were the authors of an editorial entitled “Scott Peters and the Mount Soledad Shuffle.”

Bosnich accused DeMaio of improper sexual conduct in an interview with CNN on October 10. The DeMaio campaign says Bosnich was fired for plagiarism.

“I worked with Dave on it,” Bosnich said. “So it was, basically, the two of us who wrote it.”

The December 2013 editorial says that “The newly renewed debate over the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial — and how Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, actually feels about it — isn’t just a tiff over trivia. Instead, it’s a revealing reminder that Peters has a history of being both slippery and in substantive.”

The emails provided to NBC 7 indicate that after the editorial ran, McCulloch reached out to a consultant, other campaign staff and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) boasting that “UT San Diego scorched Peters over the Soledad Cross today, saying ‘Peters has a history of being both slippery and insubstantive’ and that ‘rewriting his own history and ducking responsibility for his actions have always come easy to Scott Peters.’”

In response, Alleigh Marree of the NRCC said: “This is great. Will be able to use these lines A LOT.”

In the email thread provided to NBC 7 Investigates, DeMaio wrote back, “Well, we did wrote (sic) it ourselves.”

William Osborne, editorial/opinion director of UT San Diego, told NBC 7 Investigates that UT San Diego editorial writer Chris Reed wrote the editorial. According to Osborne, the DeMaio campaign claimed the email thread had been fabricated.

“If that email is authentic, I cannot explain it and won’t speculate,” Osborne said. “I can only tell you that Carl DeMaio personally denied to me that he wrote it and said it (the email) was a ‘fabrication.’”

Bosnich said the email thread was not altered in any way, adding that the editorial appeared almost “exactly word for word” as he and McCulloch wrote it.

It’s worth noting that UT Sand Diego has endorsed Carl DeMaio for Congress.

San Diego City Beat reporter Kelly Davis took her thoughts public when she felt she was being stonewalled by the DeMaio campaign:

(via JMG)

San Diego: GOP Candidate Carl DeMaio Struggles On Many Campaign Fronts

Openly gay GOP Congressional candidate Carl DeMaio

Gay Republican candidate Carl DeMaio is having troubles with his campaign on more than one front.

First of all, the LGBT community is not fond of him. There has been no “rallying around the gay candidate” in this case. Apparently, he’s very unlikeable and his policies don’t jive with the community.

Second, there’s the current scandal going on right now as he has been accused of sexual harassment of a former staffer. Not the news you want in the headlines just weeks before an election.

And then there’s the issue of a comment he made at a fundraising event where he said if elected he would owe “everything” to the Tea Party.

Three strikes, you’re out Mr. DeMaio.

See the report by NPR below.

Florida Rep. David Jolly is the 8th GOP member of Congress to support marriage equality

Freshman GOP Congressman David Jolly of Florida steps up to become the eighth sitting GOP member of Congress to endorse marriage equality.

From the Washington Post:

When asked by The Washington Post whether he supports gay marriage, in light of a Florida judge’s decision last week to overturn the state’s ban, Jolly said that his personal views on marriage are that it should be limited to one man and one woman.

But, he added, states should not be defining the “sanctity” of marriage.

“As a matter of my Christian faith, I believe in traditional marriage,” said Jolly in a statement to The Post. “But as a matter of Constitutional principle I believe in a form of limited government that protects personal liberty. To me, that means that the sanctity of one’s marriage should be defined by their faith and by their church, not by their state.

“Accordingly, I believe it is fully appropriate for a state to recognize both traditional marriage as well as same-sex marriage, and therefore I support the recent decision by a Monroe County Circuit Judge.”

While his support for marriage equality is clearly welcomed, it’s worth noting that he holds traditionally GOP positions on Obamacare, abortion rights, military support for Israel, and gun control.

Also expressing support for same-sex marriage in Washington are GOP Senators Rob Portman, Lisa Murkowski, Mark Kirk and Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Charlie Dent, and Richard Hanna.