The Family, the secretive Christian group that has gotten so much attention lately, is not all Republicans. There are a few Democrats involved as well, including Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, who lives at the now-infamous C street house. I had the chance to do a press teleconference with the congressman on Thursday morning and asked him some questions about his involvement with the group and wrote about it at the Michigan Messenger.
He denied completely any involvement at all with The Family, saying he didn’t know what I was talking about at all and he just rents a room there. On the call, he was clearly caught off guard by the questions and seemed to be rather flustered in trying to answer. He kept repeating “I rent a room there” as he fumbled around for a coherent response.
There is good reason to doubt his claims of ignorance. First of all, Jeff Sharlet, who lived with the Family at their Ivanwald complex in Arlington, Virginia, told me that Stupak was assigned by the group to be a mentor to one of his Ivanwald “brothers” (which is what they called each other there). He also said that Stupak was a regular attendee at the Cedars, another Family owned compound that hosts a weekly prayer breakfast led by Ed Meese.
But even without that, we know that the other legislators who live there are members of the Family. We also know that they have all pledged secrecy, as Rep. Zach Wamp admitted to his local newspaper recently. It seems to strain credulity more than a bit to accept Stupak’s flat denials of any involvement or even any knowledge of the group and what it does.
Also on the teleconference call was Deb Price of the Detroit News. She didn’t ask anything about this subject but she did rush to publish an article about it after the conference call. In fact, she scooped me on it, getting the article up a couple hours before I did. But only because she didn’t bother to do any further research, she just repeated Stupak’s denials without taking the time to find out if they are likely to be true or not.
This is a good example of how the new media often does a better job of real journalism than the traditional media (and I say that as someone who has a lot of respect for Deb Price and thinks she’s a good journalist).