ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf Reports: Who says the political fingerpointing in Washington is all for naught?
Back in September, when Democrats and Republicans were sniping at each other over the Iraq war, Republicans passed a nonbinding resolution in the Senate condemning Moveon.org for calling David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, "General Betrayus" in a newspaper ad.
For their part, Democrats sent a letter calling for Rush Limbaugh to be reprimanded for calling soldiers who opposed the war "phony soldiers."
The furor seemed to have died down as the Senate moved away from voting on a string of Iraq resolutions to voting on domestic spending bills.
But today comes word that a Wasghinton, D.C. area philanthropist, Betty Casey (or bettyc588, as she is known on Ebay) is going to pay over $2 million for a letter Senate Democrats wrote to Mark Mays, President of Clear Channel, asking him to condemn Rush Limbaugh for the "phony soldiers" comment.
All proceeds from the auction of the letter will go to the Marine Corps – Law Enforcement Foundation, which distributes aid to the families to the children of fallen Marines on behalf of law enforcement officers.
Rush Limbaugh himself put the letter up for auction on EBAY. Limbaugh sits on the board of the foundation and he has reportedly said on his show that he will match the winning bid — a total of $4.2 million for the foundation.
Rush identified Casey on his show today as a listener since the show’s inception. Casey is listed as trustee of the foundation named for her late husband, the real estate developer Eugene B. Casey, who died in 1986 and had worked as director of the Farm Credit Agency under President Franklin Roosevelt.
Betty Casey seems to have disparate political interests. According to campaign finance reports, In past years she has given money mostly to Republican Senate candidates, from Mel Martinez, who succeeded in Florida, to Pete Coors, who was unsuccessful in Colorado.
She gave money to Rudy Giuliani’s exploratory committee in 1999 and then Rick Lazio, the Republican who ultimately challenged Senator Hillary Clinton in that the 2000 race for senate in New York.
But this year, Casey gave the maximum individual contribution to Clinton’s chief opponent for the Democratic Presidential nomination, Illinois Senator Barack Obama. Both Clinton and Obama signed the letter Casey spent $2.1 million on. In fact, their signatures are right next to each other and the "n" at the end of Clinton runs into the "B" at the beginning of Barack.]
Casey was described in 2004 by the Washington Post as eccentric and press-shy. She had at one point tried to create a lavish $50 million mayoral residence for the mayor of Washington, D.C., but those plans fell through amid squabbling with city officials. Casey donated the land for the mansion to the Salvation Army, stunning city leaders.
Back on October 1st, Harry Reid brought the letter to the Senate floor and asked Republicans to join him condemning Limbaugh for saying that soldiers who oppose the Iraq war are "phony soldiers."
No Republicans signed the letter and Limbaugh has made light of it. Also on Ebay, you can buy a t-shirt that reads "Phony 41" on the back. 41 Democratic Senators signed the letter to Limbaugh.
This was a line of political rhetoric that fed off Republicans and their condemnation of Moveon.org for the "General Betrayus" ad. There were nonbinding resolutions and letters written and that was supposed to be it.
At the time, Reid called on Republicans — who had condemned Moveon.org for the General Betrayus ad — to sign the letter condemning Limbaugh. But only 41 Democrats, including Reid, signed the letter.
Today, Reid was more conciliatory to Limbaugh and whoever is paying for the letter. Though he said on the Senate floor that as he had watched the bidding throughout the week, he never thought it would get to $2 million.
"Now, everyone knows that Rush Limbaugh and I don’t agree on everything in life and maybe that is kind of an understatement," Reid said.
"But without qualification Mark May, the owner of the network that has Rush Limbaugh, and Rush Limbaugh should know that this letter that they’re auctioning is going to be something that raises money for a worthwhile cause. I don’t know what we could do more important than helping to ensure that children of our fallen soldiers and police officers who have fallen in the line of duty have the opportunity for their children to have a good education," he said.