According to Glenn Beck, his August 24 rally in Jerusalem may be the fulfillment of biblical prophecy and will open up the "very gates of heaven." Naturally, Beck wants as much congressional support as possible for the rally and has even written to members of Congress pleading with them to lend their support and attend. Now his plans have hit a snag. Members of the House of Representatives are being told that attendance at Beck's event in their official capacity violates House rules.
(House members Louis Gohmert (R-TX), Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Joe Pitts (R-PA), and Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) have already been listed by Beck as "supporters" of Beck's event.)
House members are required by House ethics rules to obtain pre-travel certification for private-sponsored travel from the House ethics committee. And Beck said on his radio show today that House members who made such a request were told that " 'the Glenn Beck event' -- this is a quote -- 'is not something that congressmen should attend in office capacity based on the conflict of interest for him as a member.' "
Representative Joe Walsh (R-IL), who was interviewed by Beck today, said that he was told that Beck's rally "had the appearance of a political event." Walsh further said that the House ethics committee rejected his request to travel to Israel for Beck's rally at the expense of the International Israel Allies Caucus Foundation, a non-governmental organization with a branch in the United States.
House ethics rules place strict limitations on the ability of members of Congress to travel on someone else's dime. In general, unless the trip is paid for by a personal friend; is part of an outside business venture, like a book deal; or has an "officially-connected purpose," the House gift ban prohibits a private source from paying for the trip. These limitations were put into place after it was revealed that members of the House Republican leadership were going on lavish junkets paid for by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
It seems perfectly reasonable to say that a trip to attend Beck's self-aggrandizing spectacle in Jerusalem is not connected with any official purpose.
After all, is it part of Congress' official duties to open the "very gates of heaven"; to (alternatively) witness the opening of "the very gates of hell"; to fulfill the "Zechariah prophecy"; or to be witness to the appearance of "a pillar of fire"? That's appears to be what Beck thinks may happen at his rally.
Beck, of course, responded to the House ethics committee decision by spinning a conspiracy theory in which House Speaker John Boehner is refusing to allow members of the House to attend Beck's rally in retaliation for their votes against the bill to raise the debt ceiling. Beck ranted: "Speaker Boehner, you should be ashamed of yourself. The Republican Party should be ashamed of themselves." He added: "The Republican Party sickens me."
Here's transcript of the segment:
BECK: I heard this story last night and I find this absolutely incredible. You want to start at the beginning and tell this story?
WALSH: Well I will, Glenn, but again, I'm just a lowly little freshman. So when it comes to House ethics, you probably know more than I do. I mean, the International Israel Allies Caucus Foundation, a wonderful group, was going to, you know, sponsor this fact-finding mission, was going to come over for two or three days, engage in some very interesting meetings with some Israeli officials, join you at your two very important events promoting, you know, an undivided Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, and lo and behold, ethics yesterday said it did not approve the trip. They listed a few reasons. Again, I'm not knowledgeable enough. They said the -- your portion of the fact-finding mission had the appearance of a political event they told me.
They said there wasn't enough meeting time built into the schedule and they identified the Israeli Allies Caucus Foundation as a lobbying group currently lobbying Congress on legislation when, in fact, they are a 501(c)(3) charity. So it's terribly disappointing because I would have given anything to have, as a member of Congress, been there with you and seen first-hand what needs to be done to promote this issue of eventually, as quickly as we can, making Jerusalem the undivided capital of Israel.
BECK: I will tell you something, Joe. You're not the only congressman that is having this problem. They have been having a problem with John Boehner's office approving anybody who has wanted to join on this, on this, you know, trip to Israel to stand. There were 35 congressman, I think, at one point and there may have been more. I don't know how many are actually coming because they've had to self-fund everything. It is my understanding, Joe, that you were told -- it may not have been you -- that it was rejected twice and then congressmen were told, "Well, if you find other funding for it, then you'll be able to -- we'll approve it." Is that what you were told?
WALSH: No. We were rejected, and we were not told that. That sounds even odder. I mean, that's bizarre.
BECK: Yeah. Well, they found the -- here's the thing, Joe. They found the funding, and they were immediately rejected, and if I'm not mistaken, the events -- "the Glenn Beck event" -- this is a quote -- "is not something that congressmen should attend in office capacity based on the conflict of interest for him as a member." Now I don't know what the conflict of interest is.
WALSH: Again, Glenn, I'm with you. I don't either. To me it surely is additional -- an additional way to go over there and do some fact-finding and learn. That's what we as members of Congress do. But for some reason, they shied away from what you are doing over there.
BECK: Yeah, I wonder why. Alright. How did you vote -- how did you vote, Joe, on the -- by the way, I'm going to post this -- I'm going to post this and any time anybody says that I'm a shill for the Republican Party, I want you to remember this. Because this is the Republican Party standing in the way of congressmen wanting to come at this time where we have the Palestinians coming to the U.N. in September. We're just a few weeks away from what could be a global catastrophe. And at this time, congressmen want to come over. And because of me or, let me ask you this: How did you vote -- did you vote with Boehner last time or were you one of the tea party holdouts?
WALSH: I voted no every single time.
BECK: Yeah. I wonder if it's --
WALSH: Well, I was one of 22 --
BECK: I wonder, Joe, if it's you or if it is -- go ahead. Go ahead.
WALSH: No, I was just going to say, I was one of 22 Republicans that voted against the speaker's own compromise plan.
BECK: Um hm. I'm just wondering if it is you and the vote to make sure that Boehner says to anybody who voted, you know, not with him, "You better come through me and you better do as I tell you or you're not going to get anything from me," or if it is me as somebody who holds the Republicans' feet to the fire -- if that's what's letting Speaker Boehner and the Republican Party try to stand in the way of people coming to Israel at this critical time. I'm just not --
BECK: I'm just not sure what Speaker Boehner had in mind there. But it's an interesting policy.
BECK: Speaker Boehner, you should be ashamed of yourself. The Republican Party should be ashamed of themselves. They don't have to attend my event. Let them come to our biggest ally and the only friend we still have in the Middle East in their hour of need. They don't have to attend my event. In fact, I'll ban them. Does that make you happy? Let Congress come here. You should be ashamed of yourself for playing politics. And that's what it is Boehner, and you know it.
The Republican Party sickens me. There are so many good people in the Republican Party. There are so many good people that are in the Republican Party trying to fight for common-sense values, trying to hold some semblance of the line of America, trying to hold together what little credibility we have overseas. But the Republicans would much rather punish bad Republicans. Good for you, Speaker Boehner. Good for you.
Americans are done with politics as usual. They are done with charities that are over-bloated, that are top-heavy and don't do what they say they're going to do. They're done with global corporations like GE that say, "Hey we bring good things to life." Do you? You're raping us. You're not paying taxes, and you're in bed with the government. You're raping us. We're done with it. We're done with it.