After the initial amusement of watching Congressman Garrett get schooled by Rep. Weiner for citing a memo that was proven to be a hoax, more information started to trickle out about just when the memo was determined to be fake – or at least the distinct possibility that it was not real. And with that, I started to wonder if Garrett knowingly cited a fraudulent memo on the House floor – or if he should have known and was irresponsible in his actions.
I’ll look at two things in this post: (1) Garrett’s past history of being deceitful with his constituents on healthcare and (2) the timeline of events on Friday leading up to his House floor speech.
For starters, Garrett’s own website cites a study by “The Lewin Group”, which is supposed to show just how evil health care reform is and how bad it is for the American public. Garrett also cites The Lewin Group in other pieces as “proof” of his views. What Garrett fails to mention is that The Lewin Group is WHOLLY-OWNED by United HealthGroup, so he is citing the insurance industry for his support without disclaiming that there is a tremendous conflict of interest, at best.
Garrett also disingenuously referred to the health care bill as “having bipartisan opposition”, yet the Medicare Part D bill in 2003 (which he voted for) was (1) grossly and willfully underestimated in terms of cost; (2) was a giveaway to big Pharma (noting that Garrett was one of a handful to vote for allowing insurance companies to continue collusion and price fixing a few weeks ago) and (3) had the vote kept open for HOURS while deals were cut to pass by a single vote – and had bipartisan opposition.
So, to say the least, there is a history of him being deceptive and taking the moral low road in order to push his personal or political agenda.
- 12:30PM – Republicans first “learned about” the memo. Interestingly, some Republican offices did nothing with this information since the origin could not be verified;
- 12:30PM Democratic Senate offices started receiving inquiries as to whether the claims were true (not whether the memo was real or fake though);
- 12:45PM – Politico story posted about the memo (also posted on right wing sites like Washington Times and Breitbart). Picked up by Drudge;
- 1PM – Rep. Boehner’s office sent the memo to reporters, without verifying whether it was fake;
- 2:40PM – After Democrats verify memo didn’t come from any offices, they pushed back on it;
- Mid afternoon – The Atlantic posts apology for posting the fake memo, Politico takes down the memo and The Hill tweets that it opted against posting the memo;
- 3:40 PM – Press conference with Eric Cantor and other Republican leaders indicating they knew the memo was fake but dismissed its importance (after pushing it hard all afternoon);
- 5:15PM – Scott Garrett makes remarks on House floor
Now, Garrett’s excuse was that it was distributed by a “reputable Capitol Hill newspaper” and he didn’t know it was retracted. But neither Politico nor Washington Times would have issued this in a print version, so he had to have received it online. And with his House colleagues/leadership all knowing a few hours earlier that this was at a minimum, not necessarily a real memo (not to mention the fact that there was no name and nobody could source the memo), it is incredibly irresponsible for him to cite something that could not be verified, was only received electronically, was taken down and refuted by numerous sources throughout Washington at various points throughout the day, and Garrett – someone with a history of bending or cherrypicking his facts to suit his agenda “didn’t know” about the retraction, the updates on every blog and publication, the press conference by his own caucus or even the hint that this memo was fraudulent?