Stupak aide schemed with McConnell staffers over health bill
I hate to say it, but Politico wins the afternoon: One of Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI)'s aides was caught conniving with Sen. Mitch McConnell's staff and other top anti-choicers over abortion funding in the Senate health reform bill...
An aide to Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) coordinated opposition to the Senate health bill’s abortion compromise this morning with the Republican Senate leadership, according to a chain of frantic emails obtained this morning by POLITICO.
Stupak, in an interview with POLITICO, called the Senate bill’s abortion position "unacceptable" – but disavowed his staffer’s collaboration with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“I never talked to McConnell about the health care bill,” said Stupak, adding that “I did not authorize the email [which] “was sent without my knowledge.”
Guys - when will we see your letters of opposition to the managers amendment?? We need them ASAP!” wrote Erika Smith, the Stupak aide, at 9:23 this morning, less than an hour after the amendment had become available.
The email’s recipients included key staffers for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Right to Life, the Family Research Council, as well as Autumn Fredericks Christensen, aide to top pro-life Republican Chris Smith, and Lanier Swann, a McConnell aide.
A minute after Smith sent out her plea, Lanier reiterated it to the list.
“Nelson is telling people in the building he will vote yes. If there was any time to weigh in against this deal —- THIS IS IT,” Swann wrote at 9:24 a.m.
The frenzied correspondence began when the anti-choicers realized that Ben Nelson might supply the critical 60th vote to defeat a GOP filibuster and put the Senate health bill on the road to passage. Part of the price of Nelson's vote would be to tighten restrictions on abortion funding under health reform, though not as severely as the notorious Stupak amendment to the House bill.
Stupak claims he didn't know what the aide was doing. I don't believe that a congressman's aide would enter into dialog with the Senate Minority Leader of the opposing party on the President's signature piece of domestic policy without a nod from her boss. McConnell is, of course, determined to kill the bill at any cost.
If Stupak doesn't fire this aide today, I'll assume he knew and approved of what she was doing. Allegedly, Stupak opposes abortion funding because he's such a devout Catholic. Well, Bart, the Bible has a lot more to say about lying than it does about abortion.