GOP lawmaker warns leadership candidates of 'skeletons in their closets'
© Greg Nash

Rep. Walter JonesWalter Beaman JonesThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic infighting threatens 2020 unity Heavy loss by female candidate in Republican NC runoff sparks shock Greg Murphy wins GOP primary runoff for North Carolina House seat MORE (R-N.C.) wants to avoid the possibility of a member of the new House GOP leadership resigning from office because of a scandal.

In a letter to House GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Jones asked that Republicans discuss urging candidates for leadership to drop out if they might one day embarrass the party because of past indiscretions.

"With all the voter distrust of Washington felt around the country, I’m asking that any candidate for Speaker of the House, majority leader, and majority whip withdraw himself from the leadership election if there are any misdeeds he has committed since joining Congress that will embarrass himself, the Republican Conference, and the House of Representatives if they become public," Jones wrote.

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Jones, who's served in the House since 1995, offered former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Bob Livingston, who ran for Speaker in 1998, as examples. Both Gingrich and Livingston admitted to extramarital affairs.

"Some of the most difficult times have been when our Republican leaders or potential Republican leaders must step down because of skeletons in their closets," Jones wrote.

"As members of the House of Representatives, we need to be able to represent the will of the people unhindered by potentially embarrassing scandals."

House Republicans will vote behind closed doors on Thursday to nominate a candidate for Speaker to replace retiring John Boehner (R-Ohio). Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is expected to emerge as the victor, but will still have to secure 218 votes on the floor when the House votes to elect a new Speaker on Oct. 29.

Jones is backing Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) for Speaker. Webster is considered a long shot against the front-runner McCarthy, who also faces Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).