Back in the good old days of April 2006, it looked like a Democrat might be elected to represent California’s 50th Congressional District. Republicans were in disarray after their 50th district stalwart, Randy “Duke” Cunningham resigned, confessed and went off to prison. The best candidate the badly split Republicans could cough up in an early April special election was a lobbyist who had never lived one day in the 50th district.
Polls showed Democrat Francine Busby even or ahead of Republican lobbyist and carpetbagger, Brian Bilbray, and it looked like Busby had a real chance for an upset victory despite the huge Republican voter registration advantage in the district. Money and support were pouring in to the Busby campaign and she looked strong preparing for the June 3 run-off that would decided who filled out the final months of Cunningham’s term.
Then in mid-April the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) went nuclear on Busby with a series of attack ads that made the Swift Boating of John Kerry look like a teenage prank video on YouTube. The NRCC threw millions at the race and worked diligently to discredit Busby.
The most egregious ad the NRCC threw up attacked Busby as being soft on child pornography. The rationale for the NRCC charge was that a teacher, who worked in the Cardiff School District, on whose board Busby serves, was suspected of having child pornography on his personal computer at his home.
The teacher in question was under investigation based on information gleaned from credit card records and other personal information. As soon as the school district administration was informed of the investigation, the teacher was stripped of his teaching credential and he was placed on administrative leave. He never entered a classroom or had contact with another student from that time forward. The teacher subsequently resigned rather than face a school board administrative action to terminate him.
The man behind the NRCC advertising that put the Busby campaign in a defensive mode, none other than Representative Tom Reynolds (NY-26). Reynolds is the head of the NRCC and in April with the Busby/Bilbray race the only congressional action on the table, Reynolds was free to turn all his time and effort to the attack.
Compare the behavior of the Cardiff School District and board member, Francine Busby, with the behavior of the man responsible for the NRCC’s advertising, in the Foleygate page sex scandal. By his own admission, Reynolds told “his supervisor,” House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert (IL-14) that Representative Mark Foley’s behavior toward house pages seemed inappropriate. AND, then, Reynolds walked away. He didn’t follow-up, he didn’t ask his own chief of staff, Kirk Fordham. Fordham, would have been a good person to ask as he had spent ten years as Foley’s chief of staff before going to work in the same capacity for Reynolds.
Reynolds is attempting to spin the story by offering up his “sincere” mea culpa that he should have done more and suggesting that others dropped the ball and did nothing to protect congressional pages from his colleague Representative Foley.
“Nobody’s angrier and more disappointed that I didn’t catch his lies,” the New York representative says, referring to Foley, in the television commercial that appeared Friday on stations in Buffalo and Rochester. “I trusted that others had investigated. Looking back, more should have been done, and for that, I am sorry.”
Interesting, huh? When a Democratic candidate does everything possible to protect children, Republicans like Reynolds make up stuff to discredit her. On the other hand, when a senior member of the Republican leadership is told that one of his colleagues is behaving inappropriately with young men, who are supposedly under the protection of the institution of which Reynolds is a leader, Reynolds passes the buck up and does nothing.
Bringing this back to the 50th district, there are two things to keep in mind here. First, when Reynolds and crew went after Busby in April, she called upon Republican Brian Bilbray to repudiate the ads and to ask the NRCC to stop running them in his behalf. Bilbray smirked and said that there was nothing he could do about the ads.
Bilbray is still smirking as he continues to support Reynolds and Hastert and the rest of the Republican leadership as they twist, spin and lie in an effort to deflect the public from its perception that they are engaged in a massive cover-up. Bilbray is just another Republican who has one single interest, reelection. The needs of the people in his district, the needs of the pages under his protection, none of that matters to men like Bilbray. Getting power and holding power is what it is all about for them.