Porkbusters Oust Green Over Flake Flap
Rob Bluey has details:
Just when it appeared House Republicans had turned the corner on earmark reform, party leaders did the unthinkable. They picked Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) for the vacant seat on the Appropriations Committee, bypassing conservative Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and the opportunity to show they were committed to real reform.
Bonner may talk a good game when it comes to earmark reform. However, his record is abysmal. The three-term Republican scored just 2% on the Club for Growth’s 2007 RePORK Card, meaning he voted for just one of the 50 anti-pork amendments offered by conservatives. Andy Roth notes that’s the same score as liberal Reps. Steny Hoyer, Bill Jefferson and James Moran. Flake, on the other hand, not only supported all 50, but he introduced many himself.
Amazingly, this is making news. Jackie Kucinich and Klaus Marre for The Hill:
“At the request of several key groups in the porkbusting coalition, I have decided to eject the House GOP leadership’s representative, Bill Greene, from the Coalition mailing list,” said blogger Rob Neppell. [Better known to most in blogosphere circles as “N.Z. Bear” – ed.]
Neppell called the omission of Flake evidence that the Republican leadership wishes “to remain part of the problem, not the solution, and as such, have no place on the discussion list.”
In response to the decision, an aide to House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said GOP leaders are committed to earmark reform. “Republican Leaders in the House are committed to an immediate moratorium on earmarks and fundamental earmark reform,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. “The only thing that stands in the way of working to end wasteful pork-barrel spending is House Democrats. We will continue to work with anyone and everyone who has an interest in earmark reform and fixing a broken Washington.”
WaPo’s Ben Pershing weighs in as well.
Capitol Briefing explained last month why he believed Flake had little chance to win the seat, despite a concerted online lobbying effort for him. Flake is disliked by many members of the GOP Conference who, regardless of whether they agree with him on earmarks, believe the Arizonan is too interested in getting press attention by criticizing his own party.
But Flake’s loss doesn’t mean House Republicans are ignorant of the importance to their base of the earmarks issue. Before he won the seat, Bonner — never known before as a reformer — had to assure leaders he would say the right things on the issue. And when he got the slot, Bonner said, “The current earmark process has become a symbol of a broken Washington. I sought this seat on the Appropriations Committee because I believe the time for change and reform — especially of the appropriations process and the much scrutinized subject of earmarks — is now.”
Republican leaders know that Flake is a cause célÃ¨bre in the blogosphere. They knew passing him over would prompt a backlash. But while they want to keep hammering away on the earmarks issue, they simply were not going to reward Flake for what they perceive to be insufficient loyalty to the team.
It’s very interesting that the blogs have become a sufficiently important factor in the process to at least have the leadership wary. Bloggers are routinely solicited by the public relations outreach efforts of the Congress and the parties and inclusion on conference calls on the like has become routine in recent years.
But internal politics are likely always going to trump external pressures from commentators. While many of us participated in conference calls with during the process for selecting the new GOP leadership team after the 2006 election debacle, they ultimately picked the guys they wanted, not the ones we wanted. Indeed, Flake lost then, too. And Whip candidate Mike Shadegg recently announced that he was retiring rather than continue to fight a losing battle.
I’d note some small irony in the conservative blogosphere championing a cantankerous fiscal conservative from Arizona perceived by his colleagues as insufficiently loyal to the team.