The Purging of Jeff Flake


You know, it's going to be hard for Americans to rush back into the bosoms of the Republican minority if they keep doing crap like this.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, who had promised last May that "bad behavior" by House Republicans who voted against their leadership would not be rewarded, announced to a party conference Wednesday that reform Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona was being removed from the Judiciary Committee.

With the change in House control, several Republicans had to be removed from committees. However, Flake was about halfway up the Judiciary panel in seniority, and this was his priority appointment. The decision was made by the Republican Steering Committee, dominated by Appropriations members who resent Flake's vigorous campaign against earmarks.

Boehner later told Flake he was purged because of his verbal attacks on party leaders. Flake was undone by his critical remarks on CBS's "60 Minutes" just before the election.

In case you've forgotten (and sorry, I'm not loaning out my K-Tel Jeff Flake's Greatest Hits compilation), these were Flake's critical remarks.

As they work their way through Congress, earmarks are so shrouded in secrecy you often can't tell who benefits from them, who sponsors them, or why.

"The vast majority of them we have no idea. Sometimes you'll see a press release when somebody's taking a victory lap. Some of them don't want anyone to know ever that they got that earmark, other than the lobbyist that they got it for," Flake tells Safer.

So, no personal attacks on members… just bemoaning the culture of earmarks, which was one of the reasons the GOP lost. The nerve of that guy! Strike him down!

Flake was far more harsh in his interview for our "libertarian vote" feature before the election (which was conducted before the Foley scandal broke).

Reason: What policies could a GOP-run Congress enact that would appeal to libertarians?

Flake: At this late date? Adjournment.

For what it's worth, Flake claims he lost the Judiciary seat because of his stance on immigration. (He's against tying Mexicans to the hoods of pick-up trucks and driving them into the Rio Grande.)