In today's MinnPost, Devin Henry reports in Members of Congress to stump for McFadden, Westrom this week:
On Wednesday, Louisiana Rep. John Fleming will be in Alexandria for a fundraiser and an Affordable Care Act roundtable with Torrey Westrom, Rep. Collin Peterson’s opponent in the 7th District. Fleming, a physician, has long been a critic of the ACA, a law Westrom has vowed to repeal.
A member of the Tea Party Caucus, Fleming has gained headlines for a lot more than that, and reading the content of the articles makes us wonder whether this isn't as high profile a race as the NRCC pretends.
Is it a head fake? Check out Fleming's national media appearances and decide for yourself.
In 2012, The Wire reported in Congressman Falls for The Onion's Planned Parenthood 'Abortionplex' Story:
Meet John Fleming, the unfortunate Republican U.S. Representative from Louisiana who made that wonderful and all-too-common mistake of thinking that an Onion article was real and telling his Facebook followers to read it. Fleming's Facebook status was posted by Literally Unbelievable, a Tumblr that collects images of Facebookers who think Onion satires are the real deal and post them on their walls. . . .
What's doubly sad about this posting (obviously deleted now) is that The Onion article shared, "Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex," is from May 2011 and is something of a viral classic, even inspiring some users of Yelp to "review" the facility described. So not only did Rep. Fleming (who calls abortion a "pernicious evil") or at least one of his staffers believe Kansas now has an abortion clinic with "coffee shops, bars, dozens of restaurants and retail outlets, a three-story nightclub, and a 10-screen multiplex theater," but it's not even recent fake news. (Though it's a fake news item that's gotten other people who weren't U.S. representatives.)
Hudson Hongo, the freelance writer who runs Literally Unbelievable, explained what happened by email. "The Onion reran their Abortionplex article in response to the Komen Foundation controversy and it has found a second life among misled abortion opponents," he writes. Rep. Fleming shouldn't feel too bad, though: The Abortionplex does have legs. As Literally's Hongo says, "I would completely agree about this being LitUnbelievable's greatest post."
Given that Westrom refuses to disavow the National Republican Congressional Committee's fake campaign website and fake news site, we think Fleming is a perfect fit for a Westrom fundraiser.
And there's his 2011 interview on MSNBC about how tax increases would make his lifestyle so difficult. The Times Picayune reported in Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana catches flak for income remarks:
Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden, came under attack from liberal bloggers this week after going on MSNBC to urge defeat of President Barack Obama's plan to increases taxes on millionaires like himself. MSNBC host Chris Jansing asked Fleming, who owns a chain of Subway sandwich shops and United Parcel Service stores, about a Wall Street Journal report that he had gross income of around $6.3 million.
"The amount that I have to invest in my business and feed my family is more like $600,000 of that $6.3 million," said Fleming, a physician, businessman and conservative tea party member. "So by the time I feed my family I have, maybe, $400,000 left over to invest in new locations, upgrade my locations, buy more equipment." . . .
Yeah. That guy. He also opposes laws allowing medical cannabis to be used by children living with seizure disorders. A local television station reported in Medical marijuana sparks hot debate in Louisiana:
U.S. Rep. John Fleming has a different view of medical marijuana.
"All it is is just an excuse to get past the laws so that people can use it recreationally," the Republican from Minden says.
As a physician and former director of rehab centers, Fleming fears fraud and abuse of medicinal marijuana.
"We have plenty of other good drugs, some of them controlled, some of them non-controlled, that treat everything that marijuana is reportedly designed for for medicinal purposes,." Fleming says.
But patients, ranging from those with cancer suffering from nausea caused by chemo, to AIDS patients with low or no appetite, to people afflicted by seizure disorders, say marijuana works best, and has the least side affects.
Westrom voted against Minnesota's highly restrictive new medical cannabis law, so Fleming might find a sympathetic ear in the state senator from Elbow Lake.
And then there's Fleming's positions on the Farm Bill, which might raise a few eyebrows here in the heavily agricultural district. The Hagstrom Report noted that Fleming signed on to the idea of removing nutrition assistance from the Farm Bill in Stutzman leads members who want separate farm, nutrition programs.
The Louisiana Democratic Party collected much of the response to this idea in What They Are Saying: Congressman Fleming’s Dysfunctional Politics Jeopardizing Farm Bill. Here's a sample:
Delta Farm Press: Vote on SNAP benefits could cost farmers, consumers dearly [Delta Farm Press, 9/19/13]
“The House Republican leadership’s ‘misplaced priorities’ on food stamps are likely to cost farmers and consumers dearly by preventing the House and Senate from conferencing on a new farm bill prior to the end of the government’s fiscal year Sept. 30 […] ‘All this bill (H.R. 3102) is going to do is make it harder, if not impossible, to pass a new farm bill this Congress.’”
National Farmers Union: House Nutrition Bill a Hindrance to Passing Farm Bill [National Farmers Union, 9/16/13]
“Separating nutrition programs from the farm bill was a mistake from the very beginning. Consideration of H.R. 3102, a politically charged bill that would hurt those in our society who most need help, unnecessarily complicates the farm bill process […] We urge members of the House to vote down this bill and work together to end the detrimental separation of nutrition programming from farm programs. Passage of H.R. 3102 will only make the already complex farm bill process more difficult.”
American Farm Bureau: House Nutrition Bill Makes Farm Bill Conference More Difficult [American Farm Bureau, accessed 9/18/13]
“Probably bad news in that instead of trying to negotiate the difference between a $20 billion cut that the House had before and $4 billion in the Senate side, now you’re looking at trying to negotiate the difference between $40 billion and $4 billion. So it will make conference and then coming up with something that can come back and pass the House and the Senate probably more difficult. So a little bit hard to say — did we talk a step forward, or a step back?”
So there's that. We've found many wonderful coverage on other issues as well, and wonder about Westrom's judgement in bringing this champion of the Tea Party Caucus to the district.
Photo: John Fleming. via Politico's John Fleming links to Onion story on Facebook.
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