“They Pray to the Money”; House Republicans Decry Speaker John Boehner’s Lobbyist-Friendly Congress

Two House Republicans who joined the attempted ouster of Speaker John Boehner last week say their main issue is how much he caters to moneyed interests.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 11:  U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) speaks about House Majority Leader Eric Cantor during a photo opportunity with Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia at the U.S Capitol in Washington, DC June 11, 2014 in Washington, DC. Yesterday House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) lost his Virginia primary to Tea Party challenger Dave Brat.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Last week’s surprise bid by a group of House Republicans to oust Speaker John Boehner wasn’t about Boehner’s ideology, two members of the would-be rebellion said in a radio interview Thursday. It was about how Boehner uses congressional power to raise money over the interests of individual legislators.

“He’s not a policy leader. He’s a political leader. He knows how to raise money,” Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., told North Carolina radio host Tyler Cralle. “We have allowed the money to control policy in Washington, D.C.”

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., another lawmaker who tried to oust Boehner, said the media is wrong to portray the fight as the Tea Party versus the establishment, or some other ideological battle.

“The lobbyists in Washington, D.C. are not ideologues. They have no ideology,” Massie said with a laugh. Cralle suggested that lobbyists do believe in making money. “Well, that’s their god, too, that’s what they pray to, the money,” Massie said.

The fundamental issue, Massie continued, is about who has the power in Congress. Massie argued that the Founding Fathers never intended for the American people to be “represented by the moneyed class in Washington, D.C.”

Listen to Massie and Jones explain their opposition to Boehner on the Tyler Cralle show below:

When Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., offered a controversial resolution on July 28 that condemned Speaker Boehner for seeking to “consolidate power and centralize decisionmaking, bypassing the majority,” it came as a surprise, and many members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus were quick to ridicule it as a waste of time. Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., a member of the caucus, called it the “dumbest idea I’ve seen here.”

The resolution did attract support from a handful of legislators, including Massie, Jones, and Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla.

Earlier this year, Massie alleged that GOP leaders had distributed a “do not give list” to lobbyists in order to choke off campaign funding to lawmakers perceived as disloyal to Speaker Boehner.

Massie, who voted against electing Boehner as speaker in January, has also upset party leaders with his push to end surveillance programs. Massie joined with fellow civil libertarian Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., to stand guard in the House of Representatives to ensure that provisions of the Patriot Act expired on June 1. They promised to object to any short-term extension of the program.

Jones is one of the few Republican lawmakers in office who has consistently voted in favor of greater campaign finance disclosure and stronger regulations for the financial industry, and the only House GOP member to vote this year to support publicly financed elections. Jones is known for his sharp criticism of foreign wars and the influence of money in politics.

Last year, GOP leaders backed a campaign by a Wall Street consultant named Taylor Griffin to run against Jones in the Republican primary. Though over $1 million in Super PAC and dark money campaign funds flooded the district in support of Griffin, Jones prevailed. Jones is expected to face another establishment-backed candidate next year.

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