A tawdry tale of blackmail and misogyny:
The House Ethics Committee says it's giving itself until mid-August to make a decision on whether Meadows improperly paid his departed chief-of-staff after he left his job. The committee can punish House members who violate ethics rules.
The committee has considered the Meadows matter since March. A Meadows spokesman did not respond Wednesday to messages seeking comment.
He was too busy crossing his fingers and hoping this would just go away. And considering Republicans are in charge of the House and its Ethics Committee, it very well might go away. But the voters in Meadows' District, especially the female voters, should be demanding some answers about this stinking mess:
A person close to Meadows said he personally observed West’s behavior around women before he was offered the job, and warned Meadows about West. “There were a number of us who talked to him and basically said, ‘You have a problem here,’ before he ever got sworn into office,” he said. His behavior apparently didn’t change in the congressional office. “I’ve heard that basically since day one,” the source said.
“I don’t know if it’s just his personality, but I know he paws on people. And I do know within his office, there have been a lot of complaints. As one of his staffers told me, ‘The son of a bitch has had a complaint on him by every woman in our office.’”
A second source close to Meadows said that West’s behavior stuck out. “I’m as mountain-boy, country-hick as they come,” this person said. “But you know how to talk in front of women; you know how to talk in a public crowd. And there’s a way that you talk at a bar with your friends versus otherwise. And Kenny would thump his Bible all holier than thou and then make off-color comments, and it was kind of one of these where it was, ‘OK, is he being funny? Is he being serious? Is he just stupid?’ And to be perfectly honest with you, that’s not like Meadows at all to put up with that. I know for a fact and I’ve heard from at least three of the women that he was completely inappropriate and complaints were filed [with Meadows].”
So Meadows knew from the git-go that West would likely be fondling and otherwise sexually harassing female staff, but he let West go ahead and do his thing anyway. And if it hadn't been for multiple complaints, Meadows would have let him continue. As the father of a daughter, that makes me more angry than the harassment itself. Meadows could have protected these women (if not others), but he made a conscious choice to not do that. And it appears that choice had something to do with self-preservation:
A review of Meadows’ campaign disclosure forms finds that the post-complaint congressional payments were not the only unusual transactions between Meadows and West. The strange relationship began with West running against Meadows in the 2012 GOP primary, arguing that Meadows was unfit due to a character issue that West often hinted at, but never discussed publicly. When West eventually endorsed Meadows, the future congressman thanked him for keeping it clean. “Kenny ran a good, clean campaign and talked with passion about the need to reclaim America. I look forward to continuing that fight to reclaim our great country,” Meadows said.
I'm generally well within the "show me" camp when it comes to implied bullshit. Hints of impropriety that are not followed up with solid proof are just that, hints. But the way Meadows has handled this situation comes close to qualifying as proof. He's violated the trust of his female staff, and he's violated Congressional rules (and maybe some laws) with what appears to be hush-money payments. Even if he wasn't "unfit" for office before this series of events, he definitely is now.