Following a day of confusion sparked by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) decision to exit the race for the next Speaker of the House, new reports have emerged that reveal threatening emails sent to influential Republican figures that referenced an alleged affair between McCarthy and a colleague.
The emails were reportedly sent by conservative activist Steve Baer, a GOP donor based in Chicago. Baer is known for mass-emailing influential Republican and conservative figures. In the hours before Kevin McCarthy dropped out of the speaker’s race, Baer apparently did just that, sending out a missive with the subject line “Kevin, why not resign like Bob Livingston?”
— POLITICO (@politico) October 9, 2015
The email was sent shortly after 8 a.m. on Thursday and was addressed to McCarthy and a host of other Republican figures. One of those who received it was Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), according to the Huffington Post. Conservative media sites have suggested that Ellmers is romantically linked to McCarthy, an assertion that both parties have strongly denied.
Following his announcement that he was departing the speaker’s race, McCarthy was asked about a letter which circulated on Wednesday, written by Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.). The letter suggested that any candidate for the speaker’s position who has committed “misdeeds” since joining Congress, which could be embarrassing to themselves, the Republican majority, or the House itself, should withdraw from the race. When asked about the letter, McCarthy denied that it affected his decision, saying instead that he chose to depart the race so his fellow Republicans wouldn’t have to face a difficult vote. He insisted that a “fresh face” is required for Republicans in the House to unite.
— TIME.com (@TIME) October 7, 2015
In a bizarre twist, Ellmers’ Wikipedia page was edited to reflect the allegations, saying that she had been rumored to be “involved in an extra-marital affair with Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy since 2011.” Another Wikipedia editor reversed the edit, citing unreliable sources (a Breitbart article that didn’t reference the allegations and a blog post by conservative blogger Charles C. Johnson were cited). Strangely, however, Mediate points out that the original edits came from a federal government IP address located within the Department of Homeland Security.
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) October 9, 2015
Outside of conservative media, few outlets have reported on the allegations surrounding McCarthy. As New York Magazine’s Daily Intelligencer points out, Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin sent out a cryptic tweet that seemed to reference the situation, while Politico ran a report on Jones’ letter. The Hill reported that GOP House members confronted McCarthy regarding rumors that could derail his potential speakership without stating what those allegations actually were.
That time everyone in politics & journalism knew what happened and readers/viewers/listeners were left in the dark.
— Mark Halperin (@MarkHalperin) October 8, 2015
In his email, Baer reportedly linked to a story regarding Jones’ letter and asserted that concealing an affair could create a potential national security risk, due to the possibility of extortion. Baer also implored McCarthy to consider the ramifications of the allegations becoming public, asking him to spare his family and colleagues from experiencing such an ordeal.
Erick Erickson, RedState editor-in-chief, asserted that some 91 influential Republicans both inside and outside Congress had been sent emails referencing the allegations against McCarthy. The Huffington Post asserted that they had confirmed Baer was the person responsible for sending those emails. Erickson also referenced a comment made by Ellmers in the Hill, which has served to further stoke the rumor mill surrounding McCarthy.
‘[Kevin McCarthy] has not spoken to me personally for my vote, and Jason Chaffetz has, so that’s where I am right now. At this point I will be casting a vote for Jason Chaffetz,’ said Ellmers, who is facing a GOP primary challenger. ‘I can’t vote for someone who doesn’t ask for my vote.’
‘I’m apparently not high on his priority list,’ she added.”
Erickson further pointed out that there is no evidence of any truth behind the rumors regarding Ellmers and Kevin McCarthy.
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