How not to complain about a big paycheck

HOW NOT TO COMPLAIN ABOUT A BIG PAYCHECK…. Rep. Sean Duffy (R) of Wisconsin, perhaps best known for having been on an MTV reality show, has struggled a bit after a few months in Congress, but his latest mess is one that’s likely to linger.

Hosting a town-hall meeting in his district last week, Duffy was confronted by an underemployed construction worker whose family is likely to suffer due to Republican budget cuts. The constituent wanted to know how much the congressman makes, and whether Duffy, like the voter’s wife who’s a teacher, “would be willing to take a cut” in pay.

Duffy, unusually tone-deaf, complained about “struggling” on his $174,000 congressional salary. When the constituent explained that the congressman makes triple what his family brings home, Duffy whined about “student loans,” having six kids, and “driving a used minivan.”

Look, I realize that members of Congress often effectively pay for two separate households, and that’s often not cheap. But if Duffy’s looking for sympathy, he’s crazy — there are plenty of families in Wisconsin who have kids, a mortgage, student loans, and a used car, and they’re not making $174,000 a year in taxpayer money. The congressman’s complaints were ridiculous, and reflect poor judgment.

But then Republicans had the not-so-smart idea of trying to squelch the video of the congressman’s remarks. Josh Marshall noted that TPM posted a clip yesterday, only to get a take-down notice.

[T]he fact that Duffy said it was always secondary for us to the fact that the local Polk County Republican party was trying to prevent anyone from seeing the video after they posted it on their own website.

Then this morning, our video hosting service received a take down notice from the Polk County Republican party trying again to prevent anyone from seeing the video. We believe that it’s wrong for a political party to use copyright to prevent the public from seeing something a member of Congress said in the course of his public duties. (This was a townhall meeting.) Equally important, our legal counsel believes they have no case. So we have now reposted the video on our own site along with a news report on the Polk County GOP’s effort to prevent anyone from seeing the video. See it here.

What was a one-day embarrassment is now a multi-day embarrassment. What was seen by a small group of people will now be seen by a larger group of people.

What Duffy said wasn’t smart. The effort to hide the remarks was arguably even dumber.