Providing for Consideration of H. Res. 567, Establishing Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghaziby Representative Louise McIntosh Slaughter
Posted on 2014-05-08
SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me the
customary 30 minutes and yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, the 2012 attack on Benghazi was a tragedy that took the [[Page H3955]] lives of brave American public servants representing and serving our country. And Congress has an obligation here--both to the families of the victims and to the country--to try to prevent this from ever happening again. But that is not at all what we are doing here today.
The Senate has produced two bipartisan reports on the issue, and the State Department's Accountability Review Board has produced a constructive, unbiased report. There is a vast body of evidence already collected, and none of it demonstrates any sort of coverup or conspiracy.
The majority here has had 13 congressional hearings over four committees, 50 briefings, produced five reports and 25,000 pages of documentation, wasted countless millions of dollars, and has gotten absolutely nowhere. One more committee weighted in favor of the majority is not going to do any better. We have bottomed out on Benghazi.
Nonetheless, the majority has repeatedly demonstrated that rather than engaging in a serious, objective examination of the circumstances, they want to use the tragedy as an excuse to generate partisan talking points, and then has descended into the crass and the unbelievable.
Several press reports this week, including one from Politico, indicate that the National Republican Congressional Committee sent out a fundraising email entitled ``You Can Become a Benghazi Watchdog Right Now,'' and that leads to a donation page where you have to pay to be a Benghazi watchdog. And even after their fundraising effort was exposed, Republicans are continuing to use this effort to raise money off of this tragedy. This morning's Politico says: ``Republicans stick with Benghazi cash grab.'' Mr. Speaker, I would like to submit into the Record these two articles from Politico, May 8 and May 9. The first one, ``NRCC''--which stands for the National Republican Congressional Committee-- ``fundraising off Benghazi,'' and the second one this morning, ``Republicans stick with Benghazi cash grab.'' [From POLITICO, May 7, 2014] NRCC Fundraising Off of Benghazi (By Jake Sherman) The House Republican campaign arm is rebuffing the chairman of the Benghazi select committee and is raising money off the GOP's investigation into the 2012 attack.
A post on the National Republican Congressional Committee website dated May 6 is titled ``You Can Become a Benghazi Watchdog Right Now.'' ``House Republicans will make sure that no one will get away from [Trey] Gowdy and the Select Committee,'' the blog post says. ``This is going to be a national effort for a national investigation.'' Once a visitor to the site enters their name, email and ZIP code, it asks for a donation to ``stop Democrats from controlling all of Washington.'' But Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), whom Speaker John Boehner (R- Ohio) tapped to chair the panel, said Wednesday morning on MSNBC's ``Morning Joe'' he would ask Republicans to forgo fundraising off the attacks.
``Yes, and I will cite myself as an example,'' Gowdy said. ``I have never sought to raise a single penny on the backs of four murdered Americans.'' For right now, the NRCC doesn't appear to be backing down.
``The Obama administration has not been honest with the American people with regards to the security failures in Benghazi, which left four Americans dead,'' said NRCC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek. ``Our goal is to hold Democrats in Congress accountable who vote against creating the select committee on Benghazi and who continue to try to sweep this controversy under the rug.'' ____ [From POLITICO, May 7, 2014] Republicans Stick With Benghazi Cash Grab (By Byron Tau and Katie Glueck) Republicans have no intention of listening to Trey Gowdy.
A number of Republican candidates and conservative groups have openly used the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi, Libya, as a cash grab. And that's likely to continue despite a strongly worded rebuke from the new chairman of the Republican select committee assigned to investigate the response to the attacks.
Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, commented on MSNBC Wednesday that he and fellow Republicans should not fundraise off ``the backs of four murdered Americans''--creating a new standard by which the party can be judged and opening the GOP up to charges of past, present and future hypocrisy.
That's put the party in an awkward spot. Republicans on Capitol Hill are eager to lend the looming committee investigation into the murder of four Americans an air of sobriety, dignity and seriousness. But political strategists are eager to mobilize the GOP base and amp up grassroots fundraising by capitalizing on the base's outrage over how the Obama administration handled the attacks.
The 2012 consulate attack and accusations of a White House cover-up are catnip for grassroots donors and activists. And Benghazi--and the select committee assigned to investigate it--is a key part of the GOP fundraising and mobilization strategy. This week, the National Republican Congressional Committee rolled out a new fundraising campaign called ``Benghazi Watchdogs''--an effort by the aiming to raise money off Gowdy's new position. Publicly available domain registration data shows that the site was registered Tuesday.
Other fundraising solicitations about Benghazi include: A fundraising page from the NRCC with a photo of Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, accompanied by big bold text proclaiming: ``Benghazi was a coverup. Demand answers.''--and asking for donations of up to $500.
A May 2 blog post from the National Republican Senatorial Committee titled ``Dude. You're Being Lied To About Benghazi.'' The post was in response to former White House spokesman Tommy Vietor's appearance on Fox News last week where he used the line ``Dude, that was like two years ago.'' It concludes: ``Americans deserve the truth about Benghazi and it's clear Democrats will not give it to them. Donate today and elect a Republican Senate majority.'' A May email blast from the conservative nonprofit Special Ops OPSEC Education Fund that asks for an ``immediate contribution'' of $25, $50, $100 or more to ``hold Obama and Hillary's feet to the fire until justice is done.'' A January email from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in the aftermath of the State of the Union noting that Obama ``failed to mention Benghazi, the IRS, or the NSA'' and asking for donations.
A John Bolton PAC email from April accused Obama, Clinton and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta of refusing to take responsibility for ``leaving Americans to die at the hands of terrorists.'' An email from Senate candidate Joe Miller saying that there is ``strong evidence that senior administration officials crafted a false narrative for purely political purposes.'' An email this week from Rep. Scott Rigell's (R-Va.) campaign asking for ``$5, $10, $20, or $50 to help keep him in Congress and hold the Administration accountable'' that also asks ``Why didn't the military respond to the events in Benghazi Were there even military assets in the region available? If not, why not? Who made the decision not to send support? House Republicans are committed to finding out the truth about Benghazi.'' An email from House candidate Andy Tobin accusing Obama of ``covering up vital information about what happened that night'' and asking for donations.
Conservative pundits and former politicians like Mike Huckabee, Allen West and others have sent emails to their lists, according to the liberal watchdog group Media Matters.
Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for the NRSC, said that there hasn't been a coordinated effort from the committee to fundraise off of the issue, even though his committee wrote a blog post with a fundraising solicitation about the hearings.
``Part of politics is fundraising. I think fundraising is a separate activity than calling attention to important issues,'' he said in an interview. ``Benghazi is going to be a topic of discussion because it deserves answers, and I think it's important for both candidates and elected officials to discuss it.'' GOP strategist Rick Wilson said that while fundraising off of such a sensitive topic needs to be done within the ``bounds of propriety,'' candidates on both sides of aisle aren't hesitant to try to turn the ``story du jour'' into donation pitches, especially when seeking to round up small- dollar contributions.
``It's a tragedy, a serious national security question that has to be resolved, and the administration owes answers,'' Wilson said of Benghazi. ``On the other hand, you're going to see people on both sides use it to build mailing lists, build name ID, fundraising lists, etc. There's a base level of inevitability.'' Democrats pointed to both the committee itself and the fact that it was being used as a fundraising ploy as evidence that the entire investigation was a political farce.
Chris Lehane, a veteran Democratic strategist, said that Republicans fundraising off of Benghazi could easily overplay their hand.
``At the end of the day you're dealing with an issue that was a tragedy,'' he said. ``From a political perspective, that's raising money from a situation where people representing our government were killed. It's a politically perilous, treacherous thing to do.'' In a general election, he said, a Democrat could easily dismiss such a Republican as ``playing politics with people's lives.'' White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Wednesday jabbed the NRCC for its fundraising efforts.
``I think that the fact that the National Republican Congressional Committee is raising money off the creation of this committee [[Page H3956]] is a pretty good indication of the political motivation that's at work here,'' he said aboard Air Force One.
And Republicans aren't the only ones to use national tragedies for fundraising or list-building.
The nonprofit Organizing for Action has come under fire several times for using gun-related events to build their email list--sending emails on the anniversary of the Newtown shooting and the day of the Navy Yard shooting.
Republican officials defended their tactics as giving voters answers to pressing questions.
``The Obama administration has not been honest with the American people with regards to Benghazi, and if Nancy Pelosi becomes speaker the American people will never know the truth. Our goal is to hold Democrats in Congress accountable who vote against creating the select committee on Benghazi and who continue to try to sweep this controversy under the rug,'' said NRCC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek.