Newly elected Representative Alex Mooney (R-WV) demonstrated with his vote in favor of re-electing John Boehner as Speaker of the House on Tuesday that he is a master of the political art of word-parsing and rationalization, especially when it comes to advancing his own ambitions.
On December 9, 2013, when the opportunistic former Chairman of the Maryland GOP was considered a long-shot candidacy to win the Republican primary in West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, he signed the Madison Project Candidate Pledge. Part of that says: “I pledge to vote against the current leadership when the first reasonable opportunity presents itself. (House)”
“We obviously view John Boehner as current leadership and Tuesday’s vote was a reasonable opportunity,” Drew Ryun of the Madison Project tells Breitbart News on Thursday.
But Mooney is demonstrating a Clintonesque handling of the English language. His spokesperson tells Breitbart News, “[t]he pledge said he would vote against leadership when a ‘reasonable opportunity’ presents itself. It is the Congressman’s belief since ‘there was no alternative candidate with a reasonable chance of success’ this was not a reasonable opportunity.”
That rationalization held little water with the Madison Project’s Drew Ryun. He called Mooney to remind him of his December 9, 2013 pledge shortly before the vote for Speaker.
“He put a pen to paper and wrote his signature,” Ryun tells Breitbart News. ” It’s not my job to remind him of that. Regardless, I know he received phone calls about our pledge specifically. He was not unaware of it. I called him as well before the vote to remind him of it.”
In May, Mooney won a crowded six person Republican primary with 36% of the vote, a comfortable 13% better than pharmacist Ken Reed’s 23%. As Breitbart News reported at the time:
Mooney, former chairman of the Maryland GOP, moved to West Virginia in 2012 in order, he said, “to live in freedom.” He promised voters to “fight Obama to preserve it.”
Several major national Tea Party groups endorsed Mooney, including Tea Party Express, the Senate Conservatives Fund, and the Madison Project. In addition, several conservative groups, including Gun Owners of America and Citizens United, also endorsed him.
Advertisements funded by several of these national groups focused on Mooney’s conservative credentials.
“He’s never supported a single tax increase, and he will fight to repeal Obamacare,” one radio ad paid for by the Senate Conservatives Fund said.
Richard Viguerie’s Conservative HQ called Mooney “a ‘boat rocker’ like Ted Cruz that will stick to his principles – even when it means taking on his own Party when its leaders forget who elected them.”
Several key local Tea Party activists also supported Mooney. Malcom Kildale and Michael Holz of the Blue Ridge Patriots Tea Party in Berkeley County, Douglas Skinner of the Potomac Patriots Tea Party in Morgan County, and Wade Caskey of the Kanawha Valley Tea Party all endorsed Mooney.
But by the November general election, Mooney had morphed into a Boehner ally. The Speaker showed up in West Virginia to campaign for Mooney on October 29. In November, Mooney defeated Democrat Nick Casey by a 47% to 44% margin to win his seat in the House.
Mooney’s spokesperson had no response to a Breitbart News inquiry asking if Mooney told Boehner of the pledge he signed in December 2013 to vote against his re-election as Speaker.
“As for John Boehner campaigning for him,” the Madison Project’s Ryun tells Breitbart News, ” I did not know that and likely 99% of West Virginians didn’t know either. But thousands of conservative donors from across the country, from Madison Project and others like SCF, supported him on the promise that he was going to go change DC. That change starts with new leadership.”
Though Mooney clearly broke the Madison Project Candidate Pledge he signed in 2013, Breitbart News has found no evidence that he publicly and explicitly promised the voters of West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District that he would vote against electing Boehner as Speaker. That pledge was apparently a promise made to the Madison Project to obtain its early financial support for his candidacy, but one that Mooney did not subsequently repeat in public.