2014 was the year in which the Republican Party began their domination of Capitol Hill. In the Mid-Term elections their majority in the House of Representatives was increased and they took control of the Senate for the first time since 2007 whilst also gaining 31 Governors. However, as Congress returns from their break into a new Republican majority two scandals have managed to put the party into the limelight for the wrong reasons.
The Republican leaders are moving swiftly to put out the fire started by Michael Grimm, who admitted to federal tax-evasion charges, and Steve Scalise who admitted to addressing a white supremacist group before he came to Congress. The House speaker John Boehner was the man to take the situation head on essentially pushing Congressman Michael Grimm towards resignation and backing the Majority House Whip Steve Scalise; the damage could have already been done.
Tax evasion may have been the final nail in his Congress coffin for Michael Grimm but it was by no means his first public scandal. He was once considered a star Republican recruit despite in 2011, whilst serving as an FBI agent, allegedly pulling out a gun in a Queens Nightclub initiating a racially charged incident (a claim he denies.) After pleading guilty to one charge in a twenty-count federal indictment for tax fraud and perjury he said he would not step down. The wrongdoing of Steve Scalise could have much bigger repercussions for the party as they have backed the man with one of the most powerful roles in the House despite admitting to the claims he gave a speech to a neo-Nazi white supremacist group. Scalise admitted to appearing before European-American Unity and Rights Organization, although he says he didn’t know the group had been accused of espousing a neo-Nazi agenda. Also said to be in attendance, adding fuel to the fire, was former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke who had been a key political figure in Louisiana. John Boehner said he had ‘full confidence’ in the Louisiana representative.” He added that Scalise “made an error in judgment, and he was right to acknowledge it was wrong and inappropriate.” He called Scalise “a man of high integrity and good character.”
Despite it showing the ability of the speaker to be both ruthless and cautious it continues for many to highlight the party’s inability to connect with minorities and gain their votes. Mitt Romney admitted the main failure of his 2012 Presidential campaign was the disconnect with minority voters. Looking forward to the 2016 Presidential elections minorities will have an even bigger say in who wins the White House battle. For the Republicans it will need to be two years of successful and incident free Congress if they want one of their party members as Commander and Chief.