The GOP rank and file tore into Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (Ohio) on Wednesday for his role in coordinated attacks on Republicans who have backed Speaker John Boehner’s (Ohio) debt limit proposal.
According to participants, during a closed-door Republican Conference meeting Wednesday, Jordan and a top RSC staffer came under fire from their colleagues for their role in the attacks.
The RSC, Heritage Action for America and others have closely coordinated their opposition to Boehner’s debt plan — including circulating a public pressure hit list of Republicans prepared by the RSC.
Significantly, several of the Members on the list are also members of the RSC and were none too pleased that their dues were being used to gin up attacks against them, according to numerous lawmakers and staff.
The list was circulated to Heritage Action and other members of the Cut, Cap and Balance Coalition and Erick Erickson, an influential conservative blogger who has often waged open warfare against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and other Republicans he views as too moderate.
In the email, a RSC junior staffer wrote: “Today is the day to kill the Boehner deal. We need statements coming up to the Hill every hour of the day in mounting opposition to the plan. If we keep this from ever coming to the Floor, we have a greater chance of victory than defeating a vote on the floor.”
In an apparent reference to a previous email from Erickson, the aide continued, “To echo Erick’s email, we need some serious heat up here,” before listing the Republicans whom the activists were to target.
During the meeting, Jordan apologized for the list and promised his colleagues that it would not happen again, participants said. RSC Communications Director Brian Straessle also apologized in a statement, saying, "This action was clearly inappropriate and was not authorized by the Chairman or any other members of the staff. This has never been — and never will be — the way we do business at the RSC."
Reps. Renee Ellmers (N.C.), Bill Flores (Texas) and others who found themselves on the list gave angry speeches about the incident, and at least one lawmaker demanded Jordan fire the junior staffer for sending out the email.
Rep. Greg Walden (Ore.) also read the text of an email that Paul Teller, the RSC’s top staffer, sent to outside activists. According to a copy of the email, Teller wrote: “Guys — not feeling good. Just got out of Conference, and there was a lot of rally-‘round-the-Speaker sentiment, even while admitting the plan was ‘not perfect.’”
Teller’s email went on to complain about the process outlined in the closed meeting, noting that the “bill text will be available tonight and will likely be on the floor Wednesday morning, in clear violation of the 3-day layover rule. The CCB pledge is nowhere to be found in any of these deliberations.”
Walden, who bluntly told Teller that he was “privileged” to be in the GOP Conference meeting, then lit into the aide, arguing that, “You should not use that privilege to tear down this team for outside organizations.”
Following the meeting, Jordan insisted he had no knowledge of the emails and said he was discussing what to do about the aides internally.
But the RSC Member list is not the first time conservatives have stepped out of traditional bounds during the debt fight.
On Tuesday, former Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Okla.) took to the House floor to lobby his former colleagues to vote against Boehner’s plan, raising questions about the propriety of such actions.
Istook is a distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.