53 House Republicans Join The Far-Right Crusade Against Kevin Jennings
October 15, 2009 1:16 pm ET by Matt Finkelstein
The Washington Examiner's Byron York reports that 53 House Republicans have now signed a letter written by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) calling on President Obama to fire Kevin Jennings, who runs the Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools.
In the letter, the conservative members condemn Jennings' "pro-homosexual agenda," while repeating the claim that he was willing to "overlook" the "sexual abuse" of a 15 year-old "child." However, that allegation, which gained traction after being heavily promoted by Fox News host Sean Hannity, has been thoroughly debunked by Media Matters and CNN. Fox News even issued an online correction to its negligent reporting.
The student in question was actually 16 years old, the legal age of consent in his home state of Massachusetts, when he spoke with Jennings. He also denies having any sexual contact with anyone at the time. Regardless, it's not logical that advice Jennings gave as a still-green 24 year-old should negate over two decades of relevant experience, which makes him by far the most qualified person to hold his position his years.
For his part, King is touting the 53 signatures as "proof" that his campaign against Jennings has nothing to do with his well-documented animosity toward gays. "A week ago, Barney Frank was declaring me to be a bigot," King said. "Now, we have 53 who have taken a stand on this....I think the president has to listen to what I think is the core of the mainstream values of America."
It's worth noting, though, that over half the members who signed hail from areas generally considered to be part of the "Bible Belt" -- which doesn't exactly represent the American "mainstream." And, while noted right-wingers like Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Chris Smith (R-NJ), and Virginia Foxx (R-NC) have endorsed the letter, Republican leaders John Boehner (R-OH) and Eric Cantor (R-VA) have not.
Read the full letter here.