- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, House Minority Leader John Boehner and the National Republican Congressional Committee are now in the position of endorsing thugocracy. Unless they withdraw their endorsements and financial support for left-wing Republican Dede Scozzafava, they will effectively condone a blatant, unwarranted and somewhat frightening attack on a free press.

Ms. Scozzafava, a New York state assemblyman running as a nominal Republican in a three-way special election for Congress, is no favorite of conservatives. Her extreme support for legalized abortion, close ties with the disgraced leftist social group ACORN, and record of high taxing and spending put her in some ways to the left of Democratic candidate Bill Owens.

Then, on Monday, Ms. Scozzafava moved even further left. A campaign spokesman in September had said the candidate opposes proposed “card check” provisions that would eliminate secret ballots in union organizing elections, but a union-friendly Web site reported on Monday that Ms. Scozzafava had told the AFL-CIO that she supports card check after all.

Understandably, Weekly Standard blogger John McCormack asked her after a speech Monday night which reported position is accurate. After she confirmed her unfortunate solidarity with the union, Mr. McCormack tried asking several other polite questions, but her staff hustled her away. When Mr. McCormack later spotted her in the parking lot, he attempted to resume his questioning, but again was rebuffed - and the candidate and her team drove off.

No big deal, right? Mr. McCormack is by all accounts a mild-mannered and polite young man. By his account, he sat in his car to file his report, only to be accosted a few minutes later by police in a vehicle with flashing lights, asking for his name and address. Yes, police.

Ms. Scozzafava’s team had called the police on a reporter for asking basic, nonconfrontational questions. The next day, they smeared Mr. McCormack as if he were a stalker. As Weekly Standard editor William Kristol dryly wrote, “It really would be better not to start down the road of berating reporters for accurately reporting the facts, or of calling the police when your candidate doesn’t like the questions reporters are asking.”

This brazen use of police power to intimidate reporters is inexcusable. It alone disqualifies Ms. Scozzafava for office. It also indicts every major Republican who stays on her team.