The GOP has an opportunity to pick up a Senate seat in Minnesota. After the Democrats forced Al Franken out of office, Governor Mark Dayton appointed his Lieutenant Governor, Tina Smith, to serve until the general election in November. Smith is a little-known and rather faceless office-holder. As an urban leftist with questionable ties, e.g. as a former senior executive of Planned Parenthood, she is vulnerable. The question for Republicans is whether we have a strong candidate. Tim Pawlenty chose to run for governor rather than senator, so the most credible candidate so far is Karin Housley, a state senator who may be best known as the wife of Phil Housley, perhaps the best hockey player Minnesota has produced.
Now a guy named Richard Painter has stepped into the perceived vacuum and thrown his hat into the ring. Who is Richard Painter? He is a classic fake Republican. At one time, he held an “ethics” position in the George W. Bush administration, and he has parlayed that brief tenure into a career of Republican-bashing. We all know the type: a nominal Republican who probably hasn’t voted for a GOP candidate in a long time, but who sucks up time on cable news, trading on his supposed status as a Republican to lend weight to his attacks on actual Republicans. It is, frankly, a despicable species.
Over the last fourteen months, Painter has devoted himself to unhinged attacks on President Trump. Paul wrote about Painter’s baseless claims against Trump here. A Republican activist in Minnesota–a real Republican, in other words–sent us these comments on Painter. Copious footnotes are omitted:
What do you call someone who campaigns for Democrats, is vice chair of a left-wing “watchdog” group, voted for Hillary Clinton and then, atop his sinecure as a publicly paid university law professor, filed a lawsuit against President Trump less than a month into his administration?
Why, if you’re the Minnesota media, he of course is simply described as “a top ethics scholar who worked as Republican President George W. Bush’s chief ethics lawyer from 2005 to 2007.” Star Tribune pseudo columnist C.J., in her usual understatement for all things liberal, gushes over the “reasonable Republican” and “U corporate law professor and network TV political pundit who’s all over the flat screen.”
As I said, there is a demand for fake Republicans on Democratic Party cable news shows.
Richard Painter has the world on a string. Getting glowing media coverage all the while pulling the wool over the eyes of everyone else.
You see, Mr. Painter has been cleverly utilizing his brief tenure in the Bush administration for cover while he pursues the most liberal agenda one can fathom.
His lawsuit against Trump was ostensibly about a President not properly divorcing himself from business interests while serving in office. Painter even cites the “emoluments clause” of the Constitution prohibiting officeholders from receiving payments from foreigners.
But a federal judge in Manhattan threw out the lawsuit on behalf of Painter’s group CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) and a few corporate cronies who compete with Trump, saying, “It is only natural that interest in his properties has generally increased since he became President,” Judge Daniels wrote, adding that ‘patrons may choose to frequent Mr. Trump’s businesses over his competitors’ for any number of reasons.”
The emoluments clause theory is, in my opinion, idiotic.
CREW, as most political observers in the press know, has long since abandoned any pretense of nonpartisanship, “focusing most of its firepower on Republicans” and lodging “ethics complaints against Republican vs. Democratic members of Congress at a rate of 9-to-1.” The Washington Free Beacon reports that “CREW’s complaints are just one part of a larger strategy to take down Trump using opposition research, media pressure, and the court system.”
As the website ZeroHedge so aptly put it when describing one of Painter’s more wild-eyed charges of Republican treason:
His Twitter feed reads like a disjointed Anti-Trump fanatic — hedged by his role inside of the GW Bush administration.
During the campaign, Mr. Painter was an outspoken advocate for Hillary — writing an oped piece in the NY Times saying she was the “only qualified candidate in the race and she should become president.” And: “There is little if any evidence that federal ethics laws were broken by Mrs. Clinton or anyone working for her at the State Department in their dealings with the foundation.”
Right (wink, wink). In short, the media, once again, have been caught trying to be duplicitous with their headlines — painting Painter as a former Republican distraught by the presence of Donald Trump in the White House — a conscientious objector, when in fact he’s nothing more than a life long liberal who happened to have a 2 year stint inside of GW’s administration.
Indeed, Painter routinely rails against the “mega-rich” recipients of the recently passed Republican tax cut. Trump’s travel ban, which was upheld by the Supreme Court, should have been overturned because “The president’s executive order is offensive and unconstitutional not only because it denies due process and is a thinly disguised ban on Muslims…but it also is heavily tilted toward the predominantly poor countries where the Trump organization is not doing business.” Really.
In an op-ed in the Times, the left wing activist Painter has also come out hard for gun control, saying, “The most blatant protection racket is orchestrated by the National Rifle Association…” and that naturally “the last election showed the costs to Republicans of succumbing to the N.R.A. and to other groups with extremist views on issues like homosexuality and stem cell research.”
Just your average Republican, according to the Star Tribune.
Richard Painter is a public employee at the University of Minnesota, deriving his hefty six-figure salary from the taxpayer while ostensibly holding one of the few jobs in America that would afford someone the time to file politically motivated lawsuits on the side.
If ethics are the new topic du jour of the Trump era, it’s high time someone in the press ask the university if taxpayers are really getting their money’s worth.
Does this Democrat in sheep’s clothing have a chance in the GOP primary? No. Republicans might be, as some have said, the stupid party, but we aren’t that dumb. Painter is actively campaigning for the Democratic candidate in Minnesota’s 2nd District, who is running to unseat solid conservative Jason Lewis. Not exactly the act of a loyal Republican, or a conservative. But we will continue to follow Painter’s attempt to steal the Republican nomination, particularly if he seems there is a risk he might fool Republican voters.
UPDATE: Richard Painter tweeted a link to this post and added, “Far right extremists are getting worried.” If he thinks mainstream conservatives like us are “far right extremists,” perhaps he is preparing to run in the Democratic primary against Tina Smith, despite his claim to be a Republican. That would, at least, be honest.