It was a target-rich environment for the media Saturday night at the GOP's Statesmen's Dinner. A gang of Republicans were herded into the same room with reporters and forced to answer questions about Paul Stanley for the first time. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey was in the tightest spot since he's the one in the governor's race with the most to lose in this scandal. The fundraiser actually was good timing for Ramsey, who was beginning to raise eyebrows by his silence on the matter. With a strong condemnation of Stanley, he made headlines and managed to buy more time from critics. Eventually, though, it seems likely that Ramsey will have to force Stanley to quit the Senate as well if the speaker wants to remain unscathed himself.
Ramsey said the news came as a big surprise to him. He said he forced Stanley to resign his committee chairmanship, and he denounced Stanley's affair with a legislative intern as "unconscionable" and "reprehensible." Quotes from Ramsey:
"It's sufficient (action) right now," he said
of Stanley's quitting his chairmanship. "And I'm not going to say that resignation from the Senate is going to be out of order, let's put it that way. But you know, I obviously am taking it one step at a time, and I think that's significant now until Paul kind of gets his life back in order."
But what ultimately happens "is really between him and his constituents more or less. I don't appoint him as senator. I do appoint him as committee chair. That's the only thing I have control over so I asked him to step down."
"Well, obviously, when you have friends like this in the legislature, you are going to be as supportive as you can as human being, But what he did was wrong. What he did was reprehensible. I wouldn't do something like that. It sheds a bad light on all of us. So, obviously, I'm upset."
"It caught me completely off guard.
He's obviously a friend of mine ... but what he did is unconscionable, and he should not have done that. Whether you like it or not, it does reflect on all of us."
More the Statesmen's Dinner:
"When anybody violates the trust of the public, we all sink. It's disheartening.Neither party is exempt. Neither party has an exclusive on integrity."
House GOP leader Glen Casada:
"I don't see it as a distraction, it's just a painful thing. It's like a disease -- like if a friend gets cancer -- it just hurts."
Sen. Ken Yager,
R-Harriman: "It's a tragedy for everybody. But we're committed and focused and ready to move forward."
Rep. Debra Maggart,
R-Hendersonville: "It certainly is a distraction, but as long as we all continue to pray for him and the young lady, and Paul's wife and his children, I think the best we can all do."
Sen. Jack Johnson
, R-Brentwood: "I've heard some suggest this reflects badly on the Republican Party. No, it doesn't. It reflects poorly on the situation. He's a good guy that allegedly did a bad thing. I hope he gets things right with his family and gets his house back in order."
See the Associated Press
... Andy Sher
... Tom Humphrey