By Molly K. Hooper - 07/17/12 09:00 AM EDT
Lawmakers say that ex-Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.), who abruptly resigned earlier this month, won’t pick up the phone to explain his decision.
A handful of members who chatted regularly with McCotter during votes on the floor said they’ve spent the past week trying to figure out why the former leadership legislator quit without providing any notice.
Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) called McCotter last week and left a lengthy message, but he has not heard back from his quirky ex-colleague.
McCotter’s silence comes as a Democrat, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (Ill.), is on an extended leave of absence for what his office has stated is treatment for a mood disorder.
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said that he “has not heard” from McCotter and did not know what made the former House GOP Policy Committee chairman send in his letter of resignation.
According to a source familiar with the situation, McCotter “isn’t talking to anyone, not even the guys in the Michigan delegation.”
The announcement capped a “nightmarish” six weeks for McCotter that began when the Board of Elections removed his name from the ballot because his campaign submitted irregular petition signatures. He then briefly launched a write-in campaign before opting not to run what would have been an uphill race for a sixth term in the House.
Since discovering the petition irregularities, McCotter requested and received an official attorney general investigation to determine whether his own campaign was seeking to sabotage him.
While that investigation takes place, however, McCotter took a vow of silence not to talk with reporters about the matter.
In a bizarre twist, The Detroit News earlier this month obtained a copy of a “tawdry” TV pilot that McCotter penned following his short-lived presidential campaign last fall. In it, he and other staffers make crude remarks, drink and comment on women’s bodies.
A day later — on a Friday afternoon when the House was out of session over the July 4 recess — McCotter announced his resignation.
A source close to McCotter explained to The Hill recently that two “disgruntled employees of his are taking the work product and shopping it around town anonymously, trying to get the reporter to report on it … the material was never intended for the public square, and they are putting it out there, trying to slam him … and he can’t respond.”
The Detroit News said it obtained the TV pilot script, “Bumper Sticker: Made On Motown,” from “a former aide who offered it as evidence of what the five-term congressman was pitching while in elected office.”
At 5:14 p.m. on July 6, McCotter spokesman Randall Thompson emailed the official resignation statement, in which his boss invoked Bob Dylan lyrics.
“The recent event’s totality of calumnies, indignities and deceits have weighed most heavily upon my family. Thus, acutely aware one cannot rebuild their hearth of home amongst the ruins of their U.S. House office, for the sake of my loved ones I must ‘strike another match, go start anew’ by embracing the promotion back from public servant to sovereign citizen,” McCotter said in the statement.
Without any word directly from McCotter, some members speculate that the TV pilot was his downfall.
“There could be people out to get him, but the submission of the script — that was tawdry. That was his doing,” GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert (Texas) told The Hill.
Gohmert added that McCotter was one of the funniest members of the House.
McCotter told The Detroit News that he wrote the script on his own time, and that it was a “cathartic” exercise following a disappointing presidential bid.
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) suggested that he heard from McCotter recently, but wouldn’t expand on how or when.
Sessions said, “Thad’s a former member of Congress who served with honor and distinction,” calling him “a close and dear friend of mine.”
A source close to McCotter told The Hill, “He’s waiting, just like everybody else is, and when the report comes out to see who’s responsible and what took place, then I’m sure you’ll hear loud and clear from him.”