All-In on Amnesty: Renee Ellmers Is Boehner and Cantor's 'Tell'
Little comes easier to a skilled speaker than clarity; clarity makes up much of the "skilled" qualifier. Politicians require the ability, and generally have the personality type that draws one to public speaking. Ironically, these facts produce a wonderfully useful corollary: If a politician's statements leave you unsure of his stance on an issue, you can be sure he opposes the popular stance of his electorate.
If you can speak clearly, you can never not.
On Monday, Byron York posted an excellent piece of journalism on the increasing clarity enveloping Speaker John Boehner in regards to House GOP leadership's intentions on amnesty. The following is excerpted from York's piece, "John Boehner's Double-Speak Rattles House Immigration Foes":
Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Boehner, while speaking to donors in Las Vegas recently, said he is "hellbent" on passing immigration reform "this year." A lot of Republicans concluded that when Boehner is speaking to jittery members, his message is: Relax, nothing's going to happen. When he's speaking to fat cats, the message is: We'll get it done.
The report sparked an uproar, which in turn caused Boehner's office to hit the "Relax" button again. "Everyone can tell their editors to chill," Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck told reporters. "Nothing has changed. As he's said many times, the Speaker believes step-by-step reform is important, but it won't happen until the president builds trust and demonstrates a commitment to the rule of law."
The reassurance didn't reassure. Team Boehner's response was "the ultimate non-sequitur," in the words of one Senate GOP aide involved in the immigration battle.
"Most members see the leadership as being supportive of Gang of Eight-style reform," said a House Republican lawmaker who asked to remain anonymous. "We continually hear that once most primaries are over, the leadership will move forward with comprehensive reform." (emphasis added)
This information on the behind-the-scenes consensus reported by York follows last week's perfectly clear, bizarre interaction between House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and President Obama. For background, recall that Cantor -- the second-most powerful GOP House member, subordinate only to Boehner -- just faced significant criticism for headlining an exclusive, private fundraiser on Amelia Island for Steve LaTourette's Republican Main Street Partnership PAC. (Boehner had been slated to attend, but dropped out.) RedState's Erick Erickson revealed the meeting's agenda, as quoted from the retreat's invite:
[B]olster our incumbents who are under attack from the far right, and ensure that we hold on to seats represented by pragmatic Republicans that we would otherwise loose if there was an ultra-conservative in the general runoff.
Then, following the meeting, Cantor faced news of a brewing scandal in his district over the Republican Party of Virginia's newly appointed executive director, Shaun Kenney. Last Monday, to outpace rumors that Kenney's consulting firm K6 was employed by Cantor prior to Kenney's appointment and continues to work for Cantor since, Kenney's Bearing Drift blog -- which is run by Shaun, his brother Jason, and Jim Hoeft, the same three partners who run K6 -- admitted that Cantor's upcoming FEC filing would indeed disclose payments to the firm.
I broke the story nationally here at PJ Media, drawing attention to the dead and buried lede from the Bearing Drift post: the executive director of the Virginia GOP is on the payroll of one of the candidates during a primary. That would rise to the level of "showstopper conflict of interest" even in, say, Egypt. Especially considering the candidate is the most powerful Republican in Virginia, which gives Virginia GOP voters objectively strong reasons to assume that Cantor helped Kenney secure the appointment.
Presume you are a Virginia voter: Why would you invest your time in a party primary if the party shows such disregard for the individual voter's considerable given trust? What would be the point of such a party's existence beyond allotment of leadership's power?
I contacted Cantor's opponent, economics professor Dave Brat, for an exclusive quote. Said Brat:
Since no Democratic challenger has emerged from that party’s own primary process, the GOP primary election on June 10 will result in the next U.S. Representative for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.
Yet with this revelation, any pretense of fairness regarding that June 10th election has been dashed.
We now ask Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins to explain how and why Shaun Kenney was appointed Executive Director.
We are also calling for an independent investigation into the financial relationship between Eric Cantor, Shaun Kenney, and the Republican Party of Virginia. (emphasis added)
Team Kenney has responded by claiming Shaun is not on Cantor's account -- it only belongs to his brother Jason. This defense does nothing to dispel concerns about the motivations behind the appointment, and also is justifiably a crock.
(Note: I have been given several emails written by Shaun in the prior few months. The emails reveal Shaun to have been vociferously defending Cantor and trashing Brat in messages to notable Virginia Republicans and donors.
For a guy not on the account, Shaun sure knows the account's talking points, and whom to send them to. I will get to the emails in future articles.)
So -- that's the background prefacing Cantor's strangely described phone call with President Obama: Cantor was facing allegations of secretly plotting against Tea Party/conservative Republicans at a retreat, plus a revelation that his campaign is paying the company owned by the newly appointed party executive director. (And I won't even get to expanding on this other Cantor scandal from last week in this post, but do yourself the favor of reading it at Virginia political blog The Bull Elephant: Eric Cantor's chief consultant, Ray Allen, was paid $1.13 frigging million by the Republican Party of Virginia. Which is now executive directed by the upstanding Shaun Kenney.)
At this point in time, Cantor chose to release a statement portraying himself as tough on amnesty and on President Obama. His statement was indeed tough, yet it was also muddied enough regarding Cantor's amnesty stance to baffle the voter who hasn't yet considered the "skilled speaker" conundrum.
The consistently sharp Allahpundit at Hot Air wasn't the slightest bit fooled:
It’s pitiful that we’ve reached this point, but Obama’s account of this chat really is more credible than Cantor’s. O’s position on immigration is straightforward: He wants amnesty badly ...
The GOP leadership’s position is anything but straightforward. They’re convinced that they need to pass some sort of immigration bill before 2016 or else Latinos will hand the White House to Democrats, but they’re not sure how far they can go without enraging their own base. Cantor wants you to believe this phone call was contentious because he’s eager to reassure conservatives that he’s holding the line on amnesty, especially conservatives who are less inclined to make him the next Speaker than they used to be. Obama, though, really has no reason to lie in describing it as pleasant. If anything, he’s forfeiting a little juice from his own base by not claiming that it was as contentious as Cantor says.
Long story short: Barack Obama may be the more honest broker in the great Democratic/Republican immigration tango.
This brings us to today's maddening stasis, and the Byron York piece. As York states, the House GOP caucus isn't merely opposed to moving significantly on amnesty, it's about 90% opposed -- perhaps Boehner and Cantor could peel off only 20-30 votes out of 232 Republicans. Yet despite that advantage, the 90% now sits pat, waiting for Boehner and Cantor to actually, inarguably, undeniably show their cards, whatever that action might entail.
Why are they waiting to act? Truly, I don't know why. I could prattle on game theory and risk management, but really, no one could possibly offer a sufficiently logical reason for the wait-and-see.
But the GOP electorate must convince them to act -- and to act immediately. Boehner and Cantor are likely prepared for a post-primary amnesty push. And only a pre-primary, preemptive attack can halt this amnesty drive by House leadership in tandem with locally corrupt party tacticians like the RPV.
As the 90% clearly requires further convincing, do suggest they pay attention to the behavior of arguably the least-talented GOP politician in the House. They must know about Renee Ellmers, by all accounts a Boehner acolyte and confidante. Ellmers is their "tell"; she parrots Boehner's behavior and talking points, but lacks the political acumen or knowledge of the amnesty issue to effectively keep the caucus waiting, as Boehner and Cantor have.
On Monday, Ellmers put out a breezy press release titled: "Congresswomen Renee Ellmers: A Busy and Beautiful Spring Week in the Second District." She spent part of April 15 that week attending an amnesty friendly presentation by two University of North Carolina professors. Here she is, in the yellow:
During the event, Ellmers asked her scripted series of questions:
“Are they taking jobs from Americans?” asked Ellmers of UNC-Chapel Hill Professors James H. Johnson and Stephen J. Appold who were presenting the report “Demographic and Economic Impact of International Migration to North Carolina.”
“Is the migrant population underpaid? Is there evidence that those who are hiring undocumented workers are not being reported? Did it factor into your research?” asked Ellmers.
Then, the House leadership-compliant answers:
“You’ve got these native North Carolinians saying they have a construction company but can’t get jobs,” explains Appold. “When they started their company, they were 25, now they are 60. The work goes to younger people.”
He’s making his point using the numbers from the report, which shows the majority of immigrants to North Carolina in recent years are between 25 and 40, are family-oriented and come to work.
So no, immigrants coming to North Carolina are not taking the jobs of native North Carolinians. “We have an aging workforce in North Carolina, and those jobs that immigrant workers fill, not a large number of native people are trying to fill those jobs,” says Appold.
They call it the three D’s; difficult, dirty and dangerous. “Native workers don’t like to do those jobs. Young native men would rather be a door greeter at Wal-Mart than take a construction job that pays $10-15 an hour,” says Johnson.
Then, the introduction of political correctness and emotion. As usual, every expenditure is reasonable if framed as an "investment":
Johnson says the report shows that the state takes a $67.31 billion(!) loss annually when educating immigrant children, but Johnson says the state should see it as a long-term investment in North Carolina’s communities.
“Immigrants are breathing new life into (our) communities, fostering both population growth and economic and employment growth through their entrepreneurial acumen,” says Johnson. (emphasis added)
So, now you know who Ellmers is.
Really, I would be piling on redundancies by also mentioning ... her recent amnesty-related humiliation by Laura Ingraham, her amateur-hour claim that she has "the same immigration stance as Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee, and Dr. Ben Carson," and her videotaped berating of some of her anti-amnesty constituents.
Back on March 18, I suggested that Ellmers' and Cantor's primary challenges deserve the most attention this season; since then I have done little besides investigate the two races. They have been fascinating as glimpses into the GOP party rift, the corruption of GOP leadership at a local level, and leadership's hiding the banana on positions that abandon their electorate.
Now, they aren't just case studies. They are flash points, the whole battle.
Both are campaigning against party corruption and excessive federal spending, but most notably they are campaigning against the amnesty push being fostered by Cantor and Boehner. Ellmers is very clearly a pawn of Boehner and Cantor, he must be counting on her, or testing the waters with her. Meanwhile, Cantor is possibly directing a state GOP using every trick imaginable to crowd out the Tea Party types, and he literally attended a seminar to discuss how to crowd out the Tea Party types. (And yes, I will be discussing the dirty tricks employed by local North Carolina GOP figures in service to Ellmers in future articles as well.)
Want to stop GOP leadership? Here's Frank Roche on amnesty:
Today, Speaker John Boehner will unveil plans to move the Republican Party toward a full throated support of amnesty for the 10-20 million illegal immigrants whose first act in our country was breaking the law.
We all know the basic economics. Labor markets are still in chaos, and now our leadership wants to import more low wage labor, lower the wage rate for our citizens, and provide BIG business cronies with cheap labor.
The Elites get cheap labor and you get low wages, more unemployment and to pay all the taxes that will support the Ruling Class in DC. This is classic Cantor vs. the People of the 7th District.
We cannot allow our Party to go down this dangerous road!
My opponent in this race has been described as “relentless” in his pursuit of amnesty, and we cannot send Eric Cantor to Washington to once again partner with Barack Obama and Harry Reid to lead the charge on this issue.
During the critical government shutdown, Eric Cantor was holding meetings to establish a roadmap to amnesty. At a time of serious financial crisis, our Majority Leader was more focused on making sure that those who entered our nation illegally would be given a path to citizenship than on reducing our growing debt or making sure we are doing everything we can to put Americans back to work. His efforts have culminated in this summit today.
As your congressman, you can count on me to be a stark departure from our current representation. Whereas Eric Cantor has been an Obama ally and amnesty’s staunchest proponent, I will be a forceful voice against such efforts and among the strongest opponents to this liberal pet policy.
I believe that we must always uphold the rule of law, and we cannot become like the Left, skirting around our laws to benefit a particular group. The foundation of our republic remains strong when no one receives special treatment.
The Cantor/Brat primary date is close, on June 10. The Ellmers/Roche primary is much closer -- May 6. Both need lots of money now.
Want to know more about the detestable manner in which national and local GOP leadership is attempting to tilt these races? Follow and investigate these two races. I will be posting more in the days ahead.
The clock is ticking on these two all-important primaries. When they're over, and if leadership prevails, expect Boehner and Cantor to act on amnesty.