While Kevin McCarthy attributed his stunning decision to pull out of race for Speaker of the House on his Benghazi committee gaffe and a struggle to get the necessary votes, the focus has increasingly turned to his personal conduct. The pressure on lawmakers to see McCarthy as a fatally flawed candidate came from some unlikely sources, among them a church.
Pray for US, a Nevada-based online congregation, had been campaigning to elect conservative Christian Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) as the next Speaker of the House. The messages that Pray For US was sending out to its followers were not so much anti-McCarthy, but pro-Gowdy.
“When we started actually looking into Kevin McCarthy, outside of his voting record, our jaws hit the floor at a story the mainstream media has ignored since last January,” said Bob Mallory, editor of Pray For US.
Among more than 30 conservative news sites that had been reporting on McCarthy’s personal conduct, Gotnews.com interviewed current and former staff members of Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC). Those staffers allege that McCarthy and Ellmers – both married – have been carrying on an affair since 2011. Renee Ellmers’ official Facebook page is in fact riddled with accusations about the affair from her constituents.
With reports about McCarthy’s alleged infidelity swirling, Pray For US followers sent thousands of FaxGrams to the House and made personal phone calls to their district Representatives supporting their candidate, Christian Trey Gowdy.
“We definitely did not want to see a repeat next year against the Republicans that Floyd Brown‘s 1988 ‘October Surprise’ when Michael Dukakis got hammered for releasing murderer Willie Horton from prison, created against the Democrats,” said Charles Benninghoff, founder of Pray For US. “There is so much energy in the country right now to put a Christian back in the White House that we felt it was not worth the risk to the country. We had to tell Congress about the allegations against Kevin McCarthy.”
In the wake of the FaxGram blizzard, FoxNews.com reported on what happened next:
In a curious development, Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., also sent a letter to House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., urging a full vetting of all leadership candidates to avoid a repeat of 1998, when the conference selected then-Rep. Bob Livingston in November to succeed outgoing House Speaker Newt Gingrich. It then emerged Livingston had been conducting an affair. Jones asked that any candidate who has committed “misdeeds” withdraw.
Shortly thereafter, McCarthy withdrew his name as a candidate for the Speaker post.