- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 12, 2017

House Speaker Paul Ryan waded into the debate Thursday over a controversial painting depicting cops as animals, saying he is confident the “disgusting” painting will have to come down.

Mr. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, said he is confident the painting — chosen by Rep. William “Lacy” Clay as winner in a congressional art contest — appears to violate the rules of the competition, which bar “exhibits depicting subjects of contemporary political controversy or a sensationalistic and gruesome nature.”

“This is disgusting,” Mr. Ryan said on the Mike Gallagher radio show. “It’s disgusting and it’s not befitting the Capitol.”

Mr. Clay and members of the Black Congressional Caucus have maintained that the “Untitled #1” painting — inspired by the 2014 civil unrest in Ferguson, Mo., should remain, arguing that it is a matter of First Amendment free speech rights, and pointing out that the painting has been hanging inside the Capitol, along with over 400 other winners, since the summer.

The painting includes cops that appear to have boar heads.

Mr. Clay, Missouri Democrat, had had to rehang the painting three separate times this week after House Republicans pulled it down and returned it to his office.

Rep. Dave Reichert, meanwhile, is spearheading the GOP efforts to have the painting taken down for good.

The Washington Republican has sent a letter to the Architect of the Capitol requesting him to review whether the painting conforms with the contest rules, and is waiting for a response.

Mr. Ryan said the teenage artist — who is now in college — had a right to craft the painting, “but we do have rules that govern these paintings.”

“This is not a free for all contest where anything can go in the Capitol,” he said. “There are rules that govern this.”

The rules of the Congressional Art Competition dictate that the winners be reviewed by the Architect of the Capitol and a panel before they were put on display, though it is unclear whether that process occurred.

The Architect of the Capitol has not responded to emails seeking clarification.

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