Former Rep. Paul Kanjorski, a Democratic Pennsylvania congressman for more than a quarter century, told the Scranton Times Tribune’s editorial board less than two weeks before Election Day that Rick Scott — the GOP candidate for Florida governor who eventually was elected — should be shot.
“That Scott down there that’s running for governor of Florida,” an Oct. 23 Times-Tribune story quoted Kanjorski as complaining. “Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him.”
The unfortunate choice of words presaged the mass shooting in Arizona during the past weekend that left Rep. Gabby Giffords fighting for her life and others killed or wounded.
Kanjorski, who represented the Scranton-Hazelton region of eastern Pennsylvania, was defeated in November by former Hazelton mayor and anti-illegal immigration crusader Lou Barletta. The subject of Scott came up as Kanjorski was blasting the U.S. health insurance industry for opposing European-style single-payer healthcare.
“They’re blood suckers,” said the then-chairman of the House Financial Services panel’s Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government-Sponsored Enterprises. The Scranton paper described Scott as “ousted in 1997 as head of the giant health care company Columbia/HCA, amid the nation’s largest Medicare and Medicaid fraud scandal. The company paid $1.7 billion in fines and civil settlements.”
“He stole billions of dollars from the United States government and he's running for governor of Florida,” Kanjorski said of Scott, who in early 2009 founded Conservatives for Patients’ Rights to prevent the enactment of ObamaCare and promote health reform legislation based on free-market principles. “He's a millionaire and a billionaire. He’s no hero. He’s a damn crook. It’s just we don’t prosecute big crooks.” Kanjorski voted in favor of the Obama health reform.
On Monday, however, The New York Times published an Op-Ed article by Kanjorski in which this Democrat who calls for Republicans to be gunned down plays peacemaker. The former congressman now contends that “it is incumbent on all Americans to create an atmosphere of civility and respect in which political discourse can flow freely, without fear of violent confrontation.”
Similarly, asked about the Arizona shooting spree on Saturday, Kanjorski told the Scranton Times Tribune, “We ought to just take a deep breath and count to 10 and do what we can do to come together as a nation,” adding, “Our problems won’t be solved by this irrational activity.”
The “put him against the wall and shoot him” statement is far from the first time the erstwhile senior Democrat has used indelicate language. Last June, during a conference committee hearing on the financial regulations bill, Kanjorski differentiated between “minorities” and “defective” people on the one hand, and “average, good American people.”
“We’re giving relief to people that I deal with in my office every day now unfortunately,” he said. “But because of the longevity of this recession, these are people — and they’re not minorities and they’re not defective and they’re not all the things you’d like to insinuate that these programs are about — these are average, good American people . . . responsible, have worked all their lives.”
Kanjorski, who penned much of the financial reform bill Congress enacted last year, also had violent-sounding things to say about prominent Wall Street executives. As a CNBC.com story describes it, “Kajorski thumped his chest, insisting, ‘I was the guy that stuck my thumbs in all their eyes.’”
Referring to JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Kanjorski bragged, “I took his ass on and I defeated him.”
In his 13 terms in the House, Kanjorski brought millions of dollars in pork home to his congressional district, including, as the Times Tribune described it, “more than $9 million for his nephews’ Cornerstone Technologies and a related company, which had a patent for a water-jet technology that he once claimed could revolutionize the region’s economy, but ended up bankrupt.”
In a post-election interview, Kanjorski said “four or five law firms” outside the Scranton area have approached him. He added, “I think I could be very effective in developing a support base to make sure we implement the reform” of the financial industry.
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