Why Paul Ryan snubbed a Republican congressman's fundraiser

It's better to be a white nationalist than to vote against Paul Ryan's tax reform bill

Published December 29, 2017 2:34PM (EST)

Paul Ryan (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
Paul Ryan (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Speaker Paul Ryan is showing his spiteful side.

Ryan decided that the proceeds of a fund-raising event he attended on Wednesday should not benefit the re-election campaign of Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., according to The New York Times. Sources close to the planning of the fund-raiser have told the Times that Ryan is punishing Zeldin — a blue-state REpublican — for voting against Ryan's tax reform bill. Zeldin's campaign confirmed Ryan's decision to the Times but did not comment on it.

At the time of the vote, Zeldin explained that he was particularly opposed to the legislation because it eliminated the federal deduction for state and local taxes.

"I just have too many constituents who are going to see their taxes go up. You’re taking more money from a place like New York in order to pay for deeper tax cuts elsewhere," Zeldin said.

The proceeds from the fund-raising event went to Ryan’s political operation and the National Republican Congressional Committee instead of Zeldin's reelection campaign.

If Ryan decides to take out his anger on all of the Republican congressmen who voted against his bill, he will need to include 11 other names on his list. The other dissenting votes were Reps. Dan Donovan of New York, John Faso of New York, Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, Darrell Issa of California, Walter Jones of North Carolina, Peter King of New York Leonard Lance of New Jersey, Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey, Dana Rohrabacher of California, Christopher Smith of New Jersey and Elise Stefanik of New York.

While Ryan seemed to have found Zeldin's vote against the Republican tax reform legislation to be one step too far, he hasn't taken the same approach with GOP politicians who have had much more controversial views. When Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, declared in March, "We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies," Ryan responded that he "clearly disagrees" with King's statement, but didn't see fit to make sure he could no longer serve as Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution & Civil Justice.

Ryan also refused to campaign with Donald Trump during the final weeks of the 2016 presidential election after an "Access Hollywood" tape was leaked in which Trump bragged about sexual harassment. Since then, though, Ryan has been trying to avoid bringing up Trump's history of sexual harassment claims.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Donald Trump Gop Tax Cuts Gop Tax Reform Bill Lee Zeldin Paul Ryan Tax Cuts Tax Reform Bill