Earlier this month, The Weekly Standard accused President Obama of selling a judgeship to win over Rep. Jim Matheson’s (D-UT) vote on health care. The Standard’s John McCormack first published a blog post floating the conspiracy that Obama had nominated Scott Matheson, Jr, the brother of Rep. Matheson, to the Tenth Circuit to pressure the Blue Dog Democrat into supporting the Senate’s health care reform bill. That evening, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) called for an “independent investigation” of the White House on Larry King Live and the story was immediately picked up by Drudge and other conservative media.
On Monday, a day after the House approved the Senate legislation, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) again suggested that Matheson voted for the bill because of the alleged quid pro quo:
BARRASSO: What a coincidence! In Utah, a member from Utah who voted for the bill, he was against it and then he was for it. And what a coincidence, his brother just got named to be a federal judge. How do you make those decisions?
Barrasso apparently didn’t know that the right wing conspiracy theory had already been de-legitimated. The nomination did not sway Rep. Matheson’s vote. He voted against the Senate bill last week.
Barrasso’s spokesperson is now claiming that the senator simply “misspoke.” “I think there were a lot of different stories last week about the appointment, and that’s how he got or had the wrong idea,” the spokesperson claimed. In their rush to make false allegations against Democrats, conservative blogs and Fox News propagated unsubstantiated stories that unfairly tarnished Scott Matheson’s legal qualifications.