The leader of the House Republican Job Creators Caucus, Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI), told reporters over the weekend that the best place for him to help with job creation is at a $1,000/host skeet-shooting fundraiser 45 minutes away from his own jobs fair.
Ribble said his attendance at the jobs fair his office set up and advertised was “a bit of a distraction” to people trying to find work.In the political business, this kind of thing is generally referred to as a epic optics fail.
Here’s the backstory. In March, Ribble founded the House Job Creators Caucus, channeling his experience as a small businessman into the main issue that put his party in control of the House: jobs. (He also got in a some hot water back home for supporting the House GOP measure eliminating job retraining funds from the federal budget, but that’s another — though not entirely unrelated — story.)
“No offense to my colleagues here, but we’ve created a caucus for just about everything under the sun except creating a job,” Ribble said in a press release announcing the creation of the caucus. “I hope this group of business owners-turned legislators can help fill that void.”
So far, so good.
Flash forward to this weekend, when Ribble dropped this tweet on his constituents, promising to put all that experience to good work by hosting a free jobs fair in Appleton, WI:
Again, sounds great — Job Creators Caucus chair heading out to do some private sector job creation. This is a win for Team Ribble. Except for what Ribble didn’t say — at the same time he scheduled his jobs fair, his campaign had scheduled a $1,000/host ($100/guest) Roundtable Discussion and “Sporting Clays Tournament” at a place called Triple J Wing and Clay in Brillion, WI.
Here’s the invite. Ribble was scheduled to be at the event at 11:30, while his jobs fair was still underway. He needed to leave pretty early, considering the fundraiser was 45 minutes away from the jobs fair according to Google Maps:
That didn’t give Ribble much time to hang out at his own jobs fair, and Democrats called him on it. So begins the final phase of this story, the less-than-ideal (if you’re a Ribble fan) video clips.
First we have a Wisconsin Democratic Party operative confronting Ribble about the fundraiser, and Ribble declining to deny he’s leaving his jobs fair to go raise a few thousand bucks. Instead he says, “How did you know I’m leaving the job fair early?” Watch:
Not great, maybe, but it is from a Democratic tracker who’s clearly trying to make Ribble look bad. So not an epic optics fail quite yet. But then we have the kicker: Asked by a local Fox affiliate about the Democratic complaint that he’s abandoning the jobs creation event to attend his own campaign coffer maintenance event, Ribble literally says it’s probably best he doesn’t attend the jobs fair anyway.
“Here’s the reality,” Ribble said in an interview from his jobs fair. “The more time I spend in here, I’m a bit of a distraction because the employers want to talk to people.”
So there you have it: the founder of the House GOP Job Creators Caucus explaining why it’s better for him to be fundraising than at his own jobs fair.
Ribble’s office responded after this story was published. Check out their take here.