SEEKONK, Mass. (WPRI) — If there’s one thing Massachusetts Congressman Jake Auchincloss is usually known for, it’s message discipline. But not this week.
Top staffers in Auchincloss’s congressional office have made national news twice for disputes that drew the attention of the U.S. Capitol Police, one involving TV host Stephen Colbert and the other involving archconservative Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.
The Colbert incident unfolded last Thursday, when a crew from the late-night comedian’s show was on Capitol Hill to tape a segment about the Jan. 6 hearings featuring the snarky puppet character named Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Auchincloss was among those being interviewed.
While there continue to be disagreements about whether the Colbert crew was properly credentialed to access the Capitol, at some point an Auchincloss staffer let the crew into the building. They were later arrested for being in the complex after hours.
“The congressman had a scheduled interview with CBS, as did other members of Congress,” Auchincloss spokesperson Matt Corridoni said in a statement. “Our contact with them ended well before the building closed for the evening. We do not condone any inappropriate activity and cannot speak to anything that occurred after hours.”
Colbert addressed the issue during his monologue on Monday’s broadcast. “The Capitol Police are much more cautious than they were, say, 18 months ago, and for a very good reason,” he said.
He added, “If you don’t know what that reason is, I know what news network you watch” — a dig at Fox News, which was the first news outlet to report that his crew had been arrested.
Republican Congressmen Jim Jordan and Rodney Davis have both requested more information about the incident, and Fox News host Tucker Carlson has made hay out of it, mocking the TV crew for what he labeled an “insurrection.”
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The second incident stems back to an ongoing feud between Greene and Congresswoman Marie Newman, the Illinois Democrat whose office is across from hers.
Newman’s daughter is transgender, and she supports Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline’s Equality Act, which would extend federal civil rights protections to LGBTQ Americans. That led Greene to put a poster up outside her office saying there are two genders, male and female; Newman put a trans-rights flag outside hers.
There are now various posters outside Greene’s office, and on Monday she revealed that U.S. Capitol Police have issued an arrest warrant for Auchincloss’s chief of staff — Tim Hysom — after he was caught on surveillance camera multiple times putting stickers on one of her posters.
In a speech on the House floor, Greene criticized the U.S. attorney in Washington for declining to prosecute Hysom despite the arrest warrant.
“In order to have a justice system that is fair and good and one that the American people can trust, it should be a justice system that prosecutes crime just because it’s a crime,” she said, arguing the U.S. attorney was siding with Democrats by leaving Hysom alone.
Corridoni, the Auchincloss spokesperson, argued Greene and other lawmakers “do not own the exterior walls of their office.” He noted that House Buildings Commission regulations bar posters from the hallways, and said, “These stickers were never threatening and always respectful.” He also questioned the content of Greene’s posters, including one that implies an expletive directed at the president.
“While the Capitol Police were obligated to pass along Rep. Greene’s accusation of ‘destruction of public property’ to the U.S. attorney’s office, they have set aside the charges and have declined to prosecute,” Corridoni told 12 News. “Congressman Auchincloss knew nothing about what his chief of staff had done.”
“Adhering a sticker — to a poster that shouldn’t be there in the first place — is hardly a federal crime,” he added.
Still, the statement was silent on whether Auchincloss retains confidence in Hysom or plans to keep him in place as his top aide. Hysom has held the job since Auchincloss took office last year, and had previously worked for two California congressmen, Democrats Alan Lowenthal and Adam Schiff.
Auchincloss and Greene have crossed swords before: in January 2021, the newly elected Democrat called for her to resign or be expelled from the House. “If you don’t understand that calling for the murder of political rivals is a threat to democracy, you shouldn’t be allowed to represent one,” he said.
Auchincloss represents Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District, which stretches from Fall River through Taunton and the Attleboros up to Newton and Brookline. He is unopposed for re-election this fall, after his Republican and Democratic opponents all quit the race before the filing deadline.
Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook