Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy draws criticism for cameos in Batman movies

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Not everyone is as thrilled as Democratic Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy about his cameo in the upcoming Batman movie.

“In terms of being another example of the way Washington works and how senators trade their office for their private amusement and enjoyment, it’s a good example,” said Tom Fitton of the conservative government watchdog group Judicial Watch.

Leahy, an admitted longtime Batman fan, has an on-screen speaking role in “The Dark Knight Rises,” which is slated for release this weekend. It follows previous cameos the lawmaker has made in Batman movies, including 2008’s “The Dark Knight.”

In a brief interview outside the Senate floor this week, Leahy brushed off the suggestion that it may be inappropriate for him to accept a movie role when the Senate Judiciary Committee he chairs has jurisdiction over issues affecting the movie industry.

He denied that his cameo could be seen as a gift from those in the movie industry.

“No, it’s not a gift from the film industry,” Leahy told The Daily Caller. “It’s a huge gift to the children’s library in Montpelier, Vermont.”

Leahy has said he’s donating all royalties and fees to the Kellogg-Hubbard Library — the Vermont library where he first read comic books as a child.

Leahy’s Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over copyrights and intellectual property, which means the committee covers anti-piracy issues of interest to the movie industry.

Among legislation the committee has considered is PIPA, or Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act. The legislation proposes to crack down on copyright infringement online.

It was sponsored by Leahy and is supported by groups like the Motion Picture Association of America. “The Dark Knight Rises” is a Warner Brothers film.

Asked about Leahy’s cameos, the senator’s spokesman, David Carle, told TheDC that, “Batman’s connection to Vermont is a great thing that spans many years.”

“The Batman character has been one of Patrick Leahy’s lifelong passions, and it has spawned and energized an enduring bond to Vermont,” he said.

The Hill reported that Leahy’s Batman credits also include a 1997 cameo in the “Batman & Robin” movie and a voiceover in the 1990s animated “Batman” series.

Fitton of Judicial Watch acknowledged that Leahy isn’t the only senator to have made cameos in Hollywood productions, citing Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain.

“Washington loves these types of opportunities,” he said. “But most Americans, they look at it with disgust.”

Discussing Leahy, Fitton said, “I’m sure he is a Batman fan and is very excited about being in the movie, but he’s in the movie because he’s a senator. If he’s being asked to do this sort of thing he otherwise wouldn’t be asked to if he was a private citizen, he ought to have second thoughts about doing it.”

As for “The Dark Knight Rises,” the Democratic lawmaker says he caught an early screening.

“It’s actually a good movie,” Leahy told TheDC. “I saw it Sunday night.”

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