House Speaker Paul Ryan says he is confident the controversial painting that depicts police officers as pigs and currently hangs in the Capitol will come down. Ryan told talk radio host Mike Gallagher as much during an interview Thursday morning.
Speaking about the painting, Ryan said: “My take is this is disgusting and it’s not befitting the Capitol. This isn’t a question of First Amendment rights. Of course this young person has the right to do something like this…but we have rules that govern these paintings. So it’s not as if you have a Constitutional right to hang whatever painting you want in the House hallway in the Capitol gallery.”
Ryan also noted that the painting, which was the winner in the annual Congressional Art Competition in Missouri Democratic Rep. Lacy Clay’s district violated competition rules by creating an image that depicted “subjects of contemporary political controversy or a sensationalistic or gruesome nature,” which is not allowed.
Washington Republican Rep. Dave Reichert, a former Seattle Sheriff, is in discussions with the Capitol architect about the appropriateness of the painting presently.
“This is not a free-for all contest where anything can go in the Capitol. There are rules that govern this. We see that this does not fit the rules and so we are processing that decision right now,” Ryan said.
He added, “We have rules of that govern what paintings can go up on here. This one slipped by for some reason.”
When asked by Gallagher if he was confident that the painting would be removed, Ryan said, “I am.”
The painting, which hung in Cannon tunnel among other competition winners from members’ districts for seven months was recently highlighted by Independent Journal Review two weeks ago and sparked debate between law enforcement organizations, Republicans and black congressional lawmakers.
The painting was removed by Republican congressmen then returned to Clay’s office and was later re-hung by Rep. Clay several times between last Friday and the middle of this week. Clay wanted to charge Hunter with theft by Capitol Hill police say that is unlikely to happen.