Yesterday, ThinkProgress reported on a testy exchange between Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) and a group of his constituents during a meeting. At several points during the discussion, Walsh lost his temper, screaming and threatening to eject participants in the meeting. “Don’t blame banks,” yelled Walsh, who disagreed with a constituent who correctly noted that banks use the revolving door and campaign contributions to dominate government.
After our story, the Capitol Fax, an Illinois political website, contacted Walsh for a response. Walsh wrote in an e-mail that he was “working on an empty stomach and had a quicker fuse than normal.” Despite the fact Walsh’s biggest campaign benefactors come from the banking industry — $132,329 in campaign contributions from the finance industry and $18,400 from bank employees — the freshman congressman claims that he’s “no pal of the big banks.” He also reiterated, “but [banks] didn’t get us into this mess — government policy” did:
I do these cup of joe’s every wkend, I show up at a coffee shop or restaurant anywhere in district and anyone can come meet with me and talk to me about anything. They are fun, engaging sessions, I often get people who disagree w me on issues at these events and the conversation can be very spirited. I am very passionate at these events as well as at my town halls. This was no different except I was working on an empty stomach and had a quicker fuse than normal.
The woman I had the heated exchange with was great and she appreciated how open and unusual these events are. I apologized to her for getting a bit to passionate and she smiled and didn’t mind at all. Regarding the substance rich of what I was trying to say — I’m no pal of the big banks and I wouldn’t have voted to bail any of them out. If they’ve abused their charters they need to be prosecuted fully. But they didn’t get us into this mess — goverment policy which has dictated for years that everyone should own a home got us here. The banks only followed the rules government set. And further government meddling will only exasperate the problem.
View the full video and Walsh’s rant here.