Yesterday, The Hill ran a story with the headline, “Rep. Ellison calls the cops to snuff Tancredo’s cigar.” It reported that on Wednesday night, Rep. Keith Ellison’s (D-MN) office called the Capitol Hill Police to check on smoke coming from Rep. Tom Tancredo’s (R-CO) office. At the time, Tancredo was smoking a cigar.
MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson picked up on the story and reported that Ellison “demanded that the officer march into Congressman Tancredo’s office and confront him anyway, which the officer did, sheepishly.” Fox News said that Ellison “called the Capitol Hill police on Colorado Republican Tom Tancredo for smoking a stogy in his office next door to Ellison’s.”
These reports are all false. Ellison never called the Capitol Hill police. Rick Jauert, Ellison’s spokesman, confirmed to ThinkProgress that he was the one who made the call. He said he wasn’t sure from where the “smoke odor” was coming, so he called the House superintendent’s office, as is standard protocol. The superintendent’s office then transferred him to the police. Jauert wrote to ThinkProgress:
I informed the officer that along about each day at 5 this vile, offensive and very strong odor began to seep into our offices. I wasn’t even aware of the fact that the Congressman himself suffers from seasonal asthma. … The officer asked me if I knew where the odor was coming from; I said, I thought it seemed to becoming from the direction of the Congressman’s personal office which would mean it likely was emanating from Cong. Tancredo’s office.
Jauert notes that Ellison initially wasn’t even aware he had made the call. Later, when he told him, Ellison “went over to Tancredo’s office to explain to them that he (Ellison) has asthma.”
Tancredo told The Hill that he has no plans to stop smoking: “If he [Ellison] would have [had] the courtesy to say something I’m sure I would have been more accommodating to his wishes.” But Tancredo’s spokesman, Carlos Espinosa, confirmed with us today that “Ellison did come by after the police left to ask us to stop smoking. But when he got to our office, [the congressman] had already left.”