Fmr staffer: Ron Paul planned ‘No’ vote for Afghanistan invasion, staff threatened mutiny
In a statement released on Monday, a 16-year former aide to Texas Rep. Ron Paul writes that the presidential candidate “was opposed to the war in Afghanistan, and to any military reaction to the attacks of 9/11,” but ultimately voted “Yay” [sic] in the face of a threatened staff rebellion and near-certain political suicide.
Eric Dondero, the statement’s author, served closely with Paul from 1987 through 2003, beginning as his travel aide and personal assistant when he ran for president on the Libertarian ticket, and ending as a senior aide in Congress from 1997 through 2003. Dondero wrote that he resigned after becoming disillusioned with the congressman, ultimately citing personal and policy differences, including Paul’s opposition to the Iraq War. (RELATED: Wash. Post’s Lane: Ron Paul has the ‘foreign policy views of Jeremiah Wright’)
Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Paul “engaged in conspiracy theories including, perhaps, [that] the attacks were coordinated with the CIA, and that the Bush administration might have known about the attacks ahead of time,” Dondero wrote. “He expressed no sympathies whatsoever for those who died on 9/11, and pretty much forbade us staffers from engaging in any sort of memorial expressions, or openly asserting pro-military statements in support of the Bush administration.”
“On the eve of the vote,” the former Paul staffer continued, “Ron Paul was still telling us staffers that he was planning to vote ‘No’ on the resolution, and to be prepared for a seriously negative reaction in [his Texas] district. [Current District Case Director] Jackie Gloor and I, along with quiet nods of agreement from the other staffers in the district, declared our intentions to Tom Lizardo, our chief of staff, and to each other, that if Ron voted ‘No,’ we would immediately resign.”
Lizardo became Paul’s chief of staff in 1997 and resigned in 2008.
“At the very last minute,” Dondero writes, “Ron switched his stance and voted ‘Yay,’ much to the great relief of [Gloor] and I. He never explained why, but I strongly suspected that he realized it would have been political suicide; that [the] staunchly conservative [Texas town] Victoria would revolt; and the Republicans there would ensure that he would not receive the nomination for the seat in 2002.”
Dondero, who is Jewish, also addressed allegations that Paul is an anti-Semite, racist and homophobe.
Paul, is “absolutely” not an anti-Semite, he continued, but he is “most certainly anti-Israel and anti-Israeli in general,” wishes that “the state of Israel did not exist at all,” and “supports [the Palestinians] calls for the abolishment of the Jewish state, and the return of Israel, all of it, to the Arabs.” (RELATED: Scarborough: ‘There is always a strain of anti-Semitism’ at Ron Paul events [VIDEO])
“There was another incident when Ron finally agreed to a meeting with Houston Jewish Young Republicans at the Freeport office,” Dondero added. “He berated them, and even shouted at one point, over their un-flinching support for Israel. So, much so, that the 6 of them walked out of the office. I was left chasing them down the hallway apologizing for my boss.”
“In short,” the statement continued, Paul is not a racist — just “out of touch with both Hispanic and black culture.”
Finally, on the issue of homosexuals, Dondero writes that Paul has no interest in their private lives but is ” personally uncomfortable around homosexuals, no different from a lot of older folks of his era.” He related one episode in which Paul allegedly asked him to concoct an excuse to go out to a fast-food restaurant so he could avoid using the bathroom in a gay supporter’s house.
“If Ron Paul should be slammed for anything,” the statement concluded, “it’s not some silly remarks he’s made in the past in his newsletters. It’s over his simply outrageously horrendous views on foreign policy, Israel, and national security for the United States. His near ‘No’ vote on Afghanistan.”
Editor’s note: Paul described Dondero as a “disgruntled former employee” who “literally was put out” during a 2007 “Meet the Press” interview with Tim Russert.