Rep. AndrÃ© Carson had no idea the guy he posed with at an Islamic event was a fake intern, and thinks the accusations that the Council on American Islamic Relations planted spies on Capitol Hill is “shameful.”
A spokesman for Carson (D-IN), one of two Muslim members of Congress, told TPM the campaign to investigate whether CAIR spies were interns is “fearmongering at its worst.”
Justin Ohlemiller, Carson’s communications director, said in an interview the photo is one of dozens members of Congress take every week with constituents and at events. He didn’t know the man was pretending to be Muslim and doesn’t recall interacting with him.“I don’t think my boss was necessarily aware of who this person was or that he was posing as a Muslim to help write the book,” Ohlemiller said.
He said his boss thinks the Republicans are wasting taxpayer money on “extremist, off-the-wall stuff” and added they have provided no proof there were spies. He added that all members should be trying to avoid stereotypes and unite people of all faiths.
Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) just weighed in with a statement along those same lines:
“It shouldn’t need to be said in 2009, and after the historic election of our first African-American president, but let me remind all my colleagues that patriotic Americans of all races, religions, and beliefs have the right – and the responsibility – to participate in our political process, including by volunteering to work in Congressional offices. Numerous Muslim-American interns have served the House ably and they deserve our appreciation and respect, not attacks on their character or patriotism.”
TPM has contacted the offices of all four Republican members who are asking for an investigation. We will update when they respond.