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Rep. Walter Jones’ Letter & Rumors Of Scandal Blow GOP Speaker’s Race Wide Open

An explosive letter written by Rep. Walter Jones (NC-3) to the Chairman of the House Republican Conference has blown the race to replace establishment Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner wide open. 

Renee Ellmers Kevin McCarthyThe letter addressed to House GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash-5), Jones asked that Republicans discuss urging candidates for leadership to drop out if they might one day embarrass the party because of past indiscretions. 

"With all the voter distrust of Washington felt around the country, I’m asking that any candidate for Speaker of the House, majority leader, and majority whip withdraw himself from the leadership election if there are any misdeeds he has committed since joining Congress that will embarrass himself, the Republican Conference, and the House of Representatives if they become public," Jones wrote. 

"Some of the most difficult times have been when our Republican leaders or potential Republican leaders must step down because of skeletons in their closets," Jones wrote. 

"As members of the House of Representatives, we need to be able to represent the will of the people unhindered by potentially embarrassing scandals." 

Jones (elected in the Contract with America class of 1994) cited former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Bob Livingston, who ran for Speaker in 1998, as examples of how personal scandal undermined the Republican brand. Both Gingrich and Livingston admitted to extramarital affairs in the wake of the Bill Clinton – Monica Lewinsky scandal. 

The Jones letter hit like a bombshell in the House GOP Conference and on Capitol Hill where speculation was rife that there was a connection between Jones’ admonition to the Republican candidates for Speaker and a just-exposed battle between Rep. Renee Ellmers and the website and investigative journalist and political provocateur Charles C Johnson. 

Earlier this year published an article “BREAKING, EXCLUSIVE : DC Sources: ‘Rep. Kevin McCarthy& Rep. Renee Ellmers Are Having An Affair’,” that cited anonymous sources alleging a relationship between Rep. Renee Ellmers and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. 

While the original article was apparently ignored by McCarthy and Ellmers a second article, “EXCLUSIVE: #Boehner’s Replacement Is Carrying On Long Running Affair With Congresswoman” published by in the middle of McCarthy’s campaign to succeed his mentor, John Boehner, as Speaker prompted an attorney for Ellmers to fire off a cease and desist letter to 

The letter to included a categorical denial of an improper relationship between Ellmers and McCarthy, terming them “indisputably false.”  

However, not only stood by its reporting, but doubled down, with Charles C. Johnson replying to the cease and desist letter online saying, “ stands by its story regarding the DC, NC, and Bakersfield rumors regarding an alleged affair between Congresswoman Renee Ellmers and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. We look forward to the opportunity to avail ourselves of deposition with seated members of congress should it come to that.” 

That Representatives Ellmers and McCarthy are “close” has long been noted by observers of the DC social scene and an affair between two sitting Members of Congress would not be unprecedented. Former Representatives Connie Mack of Florida and Mary Bono of Florida allegedly had such an affair which prompted Mack to divorce his wife and leave his young family to marry Rep. Bono.  Both Mack and Bono were defeated in subsequent elections. 

It should be noted that Rep. Walter Jones is backing Rep. Daniel Webster (FL-10) for Speaker. Webster faces-off against the front-runner McCarthy, with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (UT-3) also in the race. 

As The Hill’s Cristina Marcos explains the process of electing the next Speaker in the wake of Boehner’s resignation, “House Republicans will vote behind closed doors on Thursday to nominate a candidate for Speaker to replace retiring John Boehner (R-Ohio). Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is expected to emerge as the victor, but will still have to secure 218 votes on the floor when the House votes to elect a new Speaker on Oct. 29.”

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