Brutal, but not political

BRUTAL, BUT NOT POLITICAL…. Conservative bloggers have been buzzing lately about a terrible assault in New Orleans last week, which they’ve argued was anti-Republican violence. Yesterday, the story started generating broader attention from major news outlets.

But instead of validating the conservative speculation, the focus on the story ended up largely debunking the partisan allegations.

A police report issued Friday says a beating this month of an aide to Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) and her boyfriend does not appear to be politically motivated.

The New Orleans Police Department report, first obtained by the New Orleans Times-Picayune, says that obscenities were shouted at Jindal’s campaign finance director Allee Bautsch and her boyfriend Joe Brown after a Louisiana Republican Party fundraiser held last Friday during the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.

As best as we can tell from the available information, Bautsch and Brown left a popular French Quarter restaurant last Friday night, but were followed by a group of men who shouted obscenities at them. The men eventually caught up with the couple, and brutally assaulted them before running away. The two sustained serious injuries.

In the version of events pushed by far-right bloggers, there were protestors on hand for the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, and the attackers may have come from that group. There appears to be no evidence to support that. The bloggers also claimed that Bautsch and/or Brown were wearing pins in support of Sarah Palin, and that may have helped trigger the brutality, but we now know they were wearing no such pins.

Perhaps most importantly, some conservative sites claimed that a New Orleans police officer said the beatings appeared to be “of a political nature” — a quote that was picked up by some outlets, including Fox News — but the quote appears to have been made up. The police department has denied it entirely.

The results of the investigation aren’t conclusive, but at this point, characterizing the incident as anti-Republican is unsupported by the available facts. It appears, then, that a brutal assault was seized on by partisans in the hopes of scoring some political points. Bautsch and Brown weren’t just victims of an attack; they were pawns for conservative bloggers to exploit.