- The Washington Times - Monday, November 28, 2022

Democratic-allied groups have unleashed an aggressive opposition research operation to dig up unflattering accusations against House Republicans investigating President Biden, his family and his administration.

The effort, designed to discredit and distract from the congressional investigations targeting Mr. Biden, was launched Monday with recycled accusations from years ago against the Republicans who are poised to lead the inquiries: Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and James Comer of Kentucky.

One of the three organizations intent on protecting Mr. Biden by going on the offensive against the Republicans in the next Congress is Facts First. The group’s leader is David Brock, a former self-described “right-wing hit man” who went on to become a high-profile left-wing political operative within the Democratic Party.



Most recently, Mr. Brock’s group sent reporters a story that the Courier-Journal reported in 2015 when Mr. Comer was running for governor. It included an accusation from his college girlfriend that he mentally and physically abused her while both were students at Western Kentucky University in the early 1990s. She also claimed Mr. Comer took her to get an abortion in Louisville.

Mr. Comer, through his attorney at the time, “profusely” denied all the claims by the woman, Marilyn Thomas, and promised a “devastating lawsuit” against the newspaper if it published the story. His attorney at the time specifically told the newspaper that the abortion accusation was “not true.”

Mr. Brock’s organization also circulated a 2020 story from CNN about one of six former Ohio State University wrestlers who told the outlet he was present when Mr. Jordan, who coached the college wrestling team, heard or responded to sexual misconduct complaints about the OSU wrestling team doctor, Richard Strauss.
   
Facts First spokesman Eddie Vale told The Washington Times that the opposition research “is not geared towards pushing [the lawmakers] out of Congress before ’24 but for pushing back on the hypocrisy of those doing the investigations and/or the Republican leadership for their choices.”

He said the hypocrisy includes “having Jordan and Comer leading the charge on a lot of this when they’re accused of covering up abuse and assault.” 

House Republicans say Democrats have given Mr. Biden a pass on oversight during his first two years in the White House. Citing evidence obtained from Hunter Biden’s laptop and through whistleblowers, Mr. Comer said his committee uncovered a “decade-long pattern of influence peddling, national security risks, and political cover-ups” committed by the Biden family with the direct knowledge and involvement of the president.

Although Republicans have a majority to investigate and subpoena Biden administration officials, their single-digit margin in the next Congress will leave them vulnerable to the whims of factions within their party that left-wing political operatives are ready to exploit.

Mr. Brock said his group will have a massive bank account to wage this operation until the next election cycle.

He told NBC News that Facts First would likely have a $10 million budget over a two-year period and that he launched the organization with former Republican Rep. David Jolly, who opposed Donald Trump, and veteran Democratic strategist Maria Cardona.

Kyle Herrig, executive director of the Congressional Integrity Project, said his group’s intentions are not about discrediting the investigators but about discrediting the investigations.

“This isn’t about politics — it’s about exposing these sham investigations by MAGA Republicans for what they are — an effort to damage Joe Biden and Democrats politically, all to benefit Republicans and Donald Trump in 2024,” he said in a statement to The Washington Times. “We are focused on exposing the House Republicans’ hypocrisy for pursuing these baseless investigations while ignoring the actual concerns of the people who elected them.”

David Bossie, a former Trump campaign adviser, told The Times that Republican lawmakers and staffers are all targets. He was a congressional staffer in the 1990s who worked on investigations into the Clintons’ finances, including Whitewater and the Clinton campaign’s fundraising practices.

“They did this to [former House Judiciary Committee Chairman] Henry Hyde, to [independent counsel] Ken Starr, to [former Rep.] Dan Burton and [former Sen.] Alphonse D’Amato back in the ’90s,” he said. “This is the left breaking out the old Clinton playbook of the politics of personal destruction.”

Mr. Bossie, who now heads the Washington-based political advocacy firm Citizens United, said, “Unlike the ’90s, when they went after mostly just the chairman of the committee, and Newt Gingrich, the speaker of the House, now it will be from the top — Kevin McCarthy — all the way down to staff members on these committees. There will be no differentiation. Everyone will be treated equally, and no one will be spared.”

Of all the House Republican lawmakers in the 118th Congress, just seven served during the Clinton administration. Mr. McCarthy, the California Republican who is in line to be speaker, and Mr. Jordan were elected to the House in 2007, and Mr. Comer was elected in 2016.

Mr. Bossie’s advice to these Republicans is to be prepared and not get distracted by the “noise” of the attacks.

“If you were involved in these investigations, to be prepared for a knife fight, if you will. It’s going to get messy,” he said. “They’ve got to go into this thing eyes wide open. They have to stay focused and not get distracted by the noise, and they have to be disciplined.”

In the 1990s, he said, few conservative organizations could assist Republicans in their investigations of the Clinton administration or the communications side of it. Although Republicans have more support today, liberals, through dark money, are “devastating in their intensity and scope of what they’re willing to do,” he said.

“So the Republicans and conservative outside groups need to step up in order to help with the investigations as well as the communications. And the RNC really needs to be a lead on it,” Mr. Bossie said.

• Kerry Picket can be reached at kpicket@washingtontimes.com.

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