Guy Reschenthaler has a problem that is also our problem.
How so? Reschenthaler, the Republican who, rumor has it, represents Fayette, Greene and Washington counties (plus a portion of Westmoreland) in Congress, is attempting to raise political dollars with major whoppers – fabulous falsehoods – plain and simple.
In these already difficult times, such behavior makes maintaining a democracy doubly difficult, and that hurts all of us.
Last week, Reschenthaler, who seems to spend more time on cable news than he does among his constituents, blasted out a fundraising email which included a clip of himself speaking with Steven Hilton, a Fox News host, about a bill he has introduced to “defund EcoHealth Alliance,” a small New York nonprofit engaged in the vital work of heading off another pandemic.
EcoHealth, Reschenthaler breathlessly informed his would-be funders, has been sending American taxpayer dollars to the Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, “the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak.”
“ ... I plan on ensuring the National Institutes of Health does not send EcoHealth another dollar.”
Reschenthaler added that he intended to uncover the amount of money the U.S. nonprofit has shipped to the Chinese.
He told Hilton he’s “pessimistic” about the bill ever becoming law. He then sinisterly added, “I often wonder what the Chinese Communist Party has on the Democrat Party.”
Joe McCarthy, who infamously ran down “communists” in government in the 1950s, couldn’t have done a better job of smearing EcoHealth and endangering the public well-being, and simultaneously undermining national security by throwing shade for no good reasons on Democrats.
(The Biden administration is so far taking a tough line against the Chinese government, following markers set down by Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo.)
The truth is that EcoHealth has been receiving U.S. government research dollars since 2002. In 2019, the Trump administration extended a National Institutes of Health contract with EcoHealth for the study, in Southeast Asia, of the role bats play in spreading coronaviruses to humans.
As for the cash paid the Wuhan laboratory for the contracted work of collecting and analyzing bat feces, saliva and blood, Reschenthaler might have consulted the public record. It’s in the neighborhood of $600,000.
The total worth of two NIH bat-study contracts with EcoHealth is in the $7.5 million range.
Reschenthaler’s bogus alarm echoes the spurious siren in the night sounded by the Trump administration earlier in the COVID-19 crisis. Recall, the administration tried to shift the focus from its own shortcomings to the Chinese government’s halting cooperation with the international community in discovery of the origin of the pandemic and in stopping its spread.
As part of the blame shifting, the NIH suspended its contract with EcoHealth.
The administration was called to account by 77 Nobel laureates who took notice of the critical work EcoHealth was doing in its investigation of the bat-human-coronavirus connection.
As Richard Roberts, the chief scientist at New England Biolabs, told the online publication Biospace during the EcoHealth-Trump administration dustup, “It is totally outrageous when political considerations steamroller over science.”
Reschenthaler should heed the advice offered last summer by the Coalition of the Life Sciences, which stated “there is no justification for NIH’s ... blockade of ... funding. We need ... scientists at EcoHealth to continue their research without fear of political interference.”
What is the likelihood of Reschenthaler changing his outrageous tune about this matter and others, including his false-flag take on last year’s presidential election?
(Reschenthaler is not just a science-decliner, he is a democracy-denier as well – one of 147 House Republicans on record in opposition to Joe Biden’s lawful November election.)
Sorry to say, a change in direction doesn’t look to be in the cards for the congressman.
Another of his recent fundraising gambits was to peddle a falsehood about the security fencing in place at the Capitol since the Jan. 6 insurrection, wrongly claiming Democrats want to make the fencing permanent.
He mystifyingly talks about the Democrats’ “glaring double standard” when it comes to Capitol Hill fencing while having nothing to say about the extra fencing and security in place at the White House since June to protect now ex-president Trump.
If ever there was a time for honest public reckoning, now is that time. Guy Reschenthaler is not helping matters. The country, and his constituents, deserve better than the blatant misrepresentations the congressman has been mouthing.
Richard Robbins lives in Uniontown. His latest book, “JFK Rising,” is available on Amazon. He can be reached at email@example.com.