Did Karl Rove compile a “loyalty file” on former GOP congressman Tom Feeney? That’s what Rove himself has reportedly claimed.
Politico reports on a chance encounter at Charlie Palmer’s Steak last night between Bush’s brain and Jason Roe, a former chief of staff to Feeney, the Florida congressman who was defeated for reelection last fall*.
Roe walked over to the table, “I’m Jason Roe.”
Rove: “Oh, the famous Jason Roe.”
Roe: “I don’t know that I’m famous but I’m Tom Feeney’s former chief of staff and I’m offended by your comments on Fox about Tom. You guys wouldn’t be in the White House without Tom. And you made these really degrading comments about him that offended a lot of people.”
(Sidenote: Tom Feeney was the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives during the whole Bush/Gore 2000 recount.)
[TPM Ed Note: Last November, Rove said on Fox that the GOP incumbents who had lost their seats “were people who had not done their homework and hadn’t gotten ready for a tough race.” He named Feeney specifically, who he said “had a bunch of ethical issues raised and then voted against the rescue package.]
Rove: “Well, I have a file on the things Tom Feeney said about George Bush.”
Roe: “That says more about you than me that you kept a file on Tom Feeney. This guy was so restrained in his desire to criticize the President — even against this staff’s advice.”
Rove: “I have a file.”
Roe: “I’m right here, tell me to my face what’s in that file.”
Rove: “I’ll send you the file.”
Roe: “Well I hope the file is the beginning of the conversation and not the end. I would love to disabuse you of whatever you think of Tom Feeney’s loyalty from this file.”
Rove: “If you keep talking over me this conversation’s going to end right now.”
Then a lady came over to fill up Rove’s water glass, breaking up Roe and Rove and Roe returned to the bar. Rumor has it Rove was waiting to have dinner with former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman.
But did Rove really just admit that he kept a file of Feeney’s criticism’s of George Bush? If that’s true, he almost certainly didn’t stop at Feeney — there were plenty of Republican lawmakers who were just as outspoken as Feeney, if not more so, on the subject of Bush’s failings. Who else did Rove have files on?
I suppose this ranks on the lower end of the list of acts of political hardball that Rove committed over the course of his career. But it’s pretty Nixonian — not to say Hoover-ian — nonetheless.
* This sentence has been corrected from an earlier version.