Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Crashes Marine Funeral to Lobby Against War

Catherine Baker Knoll, Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Governor, came univited to the funeral of Marine Staff Sergeant Joseph Goodrich and proceded to hand out business cards and lobby against the war, according to the deceased’s family members.

Lt. gov. crashed Marine’s funeral, kin say (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

The family of a Marine who was killed in Iraq is furious with Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll for showing up uninvited at his funeral this week, handing out her business card and then saying “our government” is against the war.

Rhonda Goodrich of Indiana, Pa., said yesterday that a funeral was held Tuesday at a church in Carnegie for her brother-in-law, Staff Sgt. Joseph Goodrich, 32. She said he “died bravely and courageously in Iraq on July 10, serving his country.”

In a phone interview, Goodrich said the funeral service was packed with people “who wanted to tell his family how Joe had impacted their lives.” Then, suddenly, “one uninvited guest made an appearance, Catherine Baker Knoll.”

She sat down next to a Goodrich family member and, during the distribution of communion, said, “Who are you?” Then she handed the family member one of her business cards, which Goodrich said she still has. “Knoll felt this was an appropriate time to campaign and impose her will on us,” Goodrich said. “I am amazed and disgusted Knoll finds a Marine funeral a prime place to campaign.”

Goodrich said she is positive that Knoll was not invited to the funeral, which was jammed with Marines in dress uniform and police officers, because the fallen Marine had been a policeman in McKeesport and Indiana County. “Our family deserves an apology,” Rhonda Goodrich said. “Here you have a soldier who was killed — dying for his country — in a church full of grieving family members and she shows up uninvited. It made a mockery of Joey’s death.” What really upset the family, Goodrich said, is that Knoll said, ‘I want you to know our government is against this war,’ ” Goodrich said. She said she is going to seek an answer from Gov. Ed Rendell’s administration if it opposes the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Knoll was traveling yesterday, away from the Capitol, and couldn’t be reached. But an aide said she “extends condolences to all families who have lost loved ones” serving in the military. Without having talked to her, the aide, who asked not to be named, said, “The family members of fallen soldiers are in our hearts and prayers. Our prayers go out to their loved ones in their hour of grief.” Asked to comment on Goodrich’s complaints about Knoll’s conduct at the funeral, the aide said that “would be inappropriate.”

Not as inappropriate as trying to make a political event out of a war casualty’s funeral.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, Military Affairs, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ICallMasICM says:

    ‘”The family members of fallen soldiers are in our hearts and prayers. Our prayers go out to their loved ones in their hour of grief.”‘

    The insincerity is almost palpable.

  2. Anderson says:

    N.b. that John Cole has already noticed that this Goodrich person is a lively Republican activist; he is waiting to see what other confirmation there is of her version of events.

  3. ICallMasICM says:

    Like the apology from the Governor?

  4. ALS says:

    Exactly why politicians need to stay away from all military funerals (unless the politician is a friend or family member of the dead Soldier).

    Turns out Bush’s decision to avoid all military funerals was a good one.

    There’s just too much chance that it will turn into a freaking circus.

  5. denise says:

    Good point, ALS.

    There was an article in yesterday’s paper about Fred Phelps picketing soldiers’ funerals. This story reminded me of that.

  6. M. Murcek says:

    Reporting in from PA, where I’ve lived all my life, except for 4 years away at college. The dim bulb voters of Pennsylvania elected Catherine Baker Troll. They sure got what they deserved. The governor – of whom I am no fan – has wanted to throw her under the bus – literally – since before he was even elected.

  7. ALS says:

    Good point, ALS.

    There was an article in yesterday’s paper about Fred Phelps picketing soldiers’ funerals. This story reminded me of that.

    OMG! This is the first I had heard about this. What a sick SOB. This POS deserves to have his picket signs rammed up his 4th point of contact.

  8. Herb says:

    Now we have seen the lowest form of life on this planet. I wonder what snake hole she was ejected from. Just leave it to a Liberal to dishonor our hero’s who gave their lives so she could glorify those who want us dead while she is showing everyone what a self righteous, selfish, and self centered lowlife she is.

    Democrats will probably hail her as a hero.

  9. Lt bell says:

    this was placed by Karl Rove
    just as the supreme court nomination was placed by ROVE
    this is conservative propaganda another LIE

    Where is Osama Bin Laden
    Where is the treasonist Karl Rove
    Where are the terroists
    Where is the President and the rest of the Bush Crime Family

  10. June Gordon says:

    I researched Goodrich and she is indeed a very active — not to mention volatile — Right Wing activist. Furthermore, she is just a sister-in-law of the soldier who died, not a sister as some sources have reported. She appears to be exploiting the situation for political reasons.

    Furthermore, Knoll has attended the funerals of scores of veterans, some of whom surely hailed from Republican families. I’ve seen nothing in her remarks that seems inappropriate. She denies Goodrich’s claim that she said the government opposes the war. I believe Knoll.

  11. Herb says:

    Lt. Bell, while you comments are somewhat interesting, they are indeed hilarious. I do Hope that someday you will set some smarts and learn that Lefty Democrats are leading you astray.

  12. CSM CM Paugh says:

    As a member of the US military, I can tell you that I support Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll expressing her views on the war. We are fighting to protect people’s freedom of speech and other Constitutionally protected rights. Anyone attempting to silence this women soley because they disagree with her is not a patriot, and they do not love this country. I will go as far as to say anyone attempting to silence her views insults the memory of this Marine who gave his LIFE to support her right to free speech.

    This war is controversial. With 20 years military service under my belt, I know it violates international law, and there may come a day 10 years down the road that I myself may be tried for war crimes for having “just followed orders” fighting in it. I am first of all an American, and I do what my country tells me to do so I accept that risk. Having said that, I can tell you that over half of us in Iraq are against this war, and we believe it cannot be justified. We wish more people would SUPPORT us by speaking out AGAINST the war. Being against the war is NOT being against us, the troops. How twisted are people who think this?

  13. James Joyner says:

    No one is arguing the woman doesn’t have a right to express her opinion on the war. We’re merely saying that the venue–a Marine’s funeral–was inappropriate.

  14. ICallMasICM says:

    ‘Furthermore, she is just a sister-in-law of the soldier who died, not a sister as some sources have reported.’


    ‘She appears to be exploiting the situation for political reasons.’

    You clearly have the situation ass backwards.

    ‘She denies Goodrich’s claim that she said the government opposes the war.’

    Maybe you could cite her denial?

  15. ExtremeCentrist says:

    I’m a veteran and a small business owner, and I heard about this in my VetNews newsletter (a somewhat inappropriate place for an item like this). My first impression was that it sounded very much like an ‘urban legend’. Further research on the web has done nothing to change my opinion on this.

    I doubt the veracity of the story as told, simply because I have been witness to the lies and hypocrisy of the right wing since the mid ’90’s, especially the neo-con ‘chickenhawks’ that run our federal government. I am astonished that these and other conservatives can vilify the left or the center with a clear conscience. The lack of civility that people bemoan came from the right, not the left. This ‘news’ item is yet another example.

    it is Rhonda Goodrich who shows a lack of respect here. Lt. Gov. Knoll made time, however brief, to attend the funeral of a fallen native son. Her intent, as an elected official of the state, was to show that the state of Pennsylvania recognizes the loss of the family and the sacrifice of the fallen soldier. I for one would be honored if either our Republican governor or our Democratic lt. governor here in Georgia attended the funeral of one of my family members in a similar situation, and would be touched if either of them offered their contact information.

    Clearly the right have gotten so carried away with themselves that they feel justified in denigrating anyone who disagrees with their views, as Ms. Goodrich is doing to her Lt. Governor here. Ms. Goodrich has taken each of Lt. Governor Knoll’s actions and cast them in the most negative light possible, predictably ratcheting up the ‘moral outrage’ of her neo-con companions. It is despicable and disrespectful behavior such as Rhonda Goodrich’s that is the reason I am no longer a member of the Republican party.

  16. ExtremeCentrist says:

    You know, I just noticed the source of this story–the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. This is the paper that the former male porn star, working under an assumed name, infiltrated the White House press corps and made a mockery of ‘objective journalism’. This is the paper owned by Richard Mellon Scaife, who responded to a question from reporter from a *real* newspaper by saying, “Get out of my face, you f*cking Communist c*nt.”

    So we’re just supposed to trust that this story is accurate, right? Yeah, sure….