In searching for reasons to discredit opposition to North Carolina’s House Bill 2, conservatives found a nugget of information ripe for fodder: Charlotte’s invalidated anti-discrimination bill was supported by convicted sex offender Chad Sevearance, a former music minister who in 1998 molested church youth.
To make more hay, conservatives embellished by falsely claiming Sevearance was the “leader of efforts” behind Charlotte’s bill, when in reality his biggest role was that he was quoted on the defeat of a similar measure in Charlotte last year.
However, before conservatives try to discredit something based on its support by a sex offender, they may also want to look at another recent news item: the uncovering of Dennis Hastert having groped four teenagers back in his days as a high school wrestling coach.
Granted, the statute of limitations for Hastert’s groping has long passed, so he will not become a sex offender in this case. And, because Thought Front believes in balanced reporting, it bears noting that Hastert’s defense attorneys argue that a groin rub is something perfectly reasonable for a wrestling coach to do, such as for a massage.
But that was not Hastert’s only brush with sexual behavior with teens. There was also the 2006 leaking of Rep. Mark Foley’s sexually explicit e-mails and instant messages to teenage congressional pages. At first Hastert denied having knowledge of Foley’s behavior before it made headlines, only to later acknowledge that his staff knew about it in 2005. House Republicans kept the matter under wraps, and Foley even got to co-chair the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus.
“I’m deeply sorry that this has happened,” said Hastert. “And the bottom line is that we’re taking responsibility, because ultimately – as someone has said in Washington before – the buck stops here.”
What, then, are the policies that Hastert supported during his time in the public eye?
From the beginning, Hastert served on the House Commerce Committee, and gained a reputation as an expert on healthcare. In 1993, Hastert was Chairman of the Health Care Task Force of the House Republican Research Committee, and is credited as being one of the most prominent denouncers of Bill Clinton’s plan for universal healthcare.
Hastert would go on to have the longest tenure of any Republican speaker in history, from 1999 to 2007, assuming the post right after the House (including him) voted to impeach Clinton. Along with his GOP colleagues, Hastert immediately presented a four-point agenda: tax cuts, increased defense spending (including a missile defense system), privatization of Social Security, and local control of schools. Tort reform would also become a major item on his agenda.
During his tenure, Hastert oversaw many of George W. Bush’s signature policies and achievements such as the Patriot Act, the Iraq War, No Child Left Behind, and tax cuts for the wealthy.
So if conservatives are trying to discredit HB2 because a supporter is a sex offender, does that mean everything Hastert supported is also discredited?