Until today, D.J. Bettencourt was the anti-tax, anti-choice, anti-healthcare, Mitt Romney-loving, Catholic, Republican New Hampshire House bulldog with the bad skull-shave who spent his earlier days devoting his time to putting unqualified, misguided, stupid, and/or just plain mean Republicans into office, including George W. Bush (who was unqualified, misguided, stupid, and just plain mean). He was also a special aide to Romney during the latter’s reign over the temporarily-insane state of Massachusetts.
Today, D.J. Bettencourt is still an anti-tax, anti-choice, anti-healthcare, Mitt Romney-loving, Catholic, Republican bulldog with a bad skull-shave, but he’s out of office, having resigned after being caught faking his academic credentials. (Yes, yes, we know: It is hard to believe a Teabagger has any academic credentials, but just go with it.)
“Bettencourt,” wrote the Boston Globe’s Shira Schoenberg in 2011, “a 27-year-old law student and Republican from Salem, has led the nearly 300-strong Republican coalition in the 400-person New Hampshire House. The youngest House majority leader in New Hampshire history, he rose to a position of leadership with support from the newly conservative majority elected to the Legislature in 2010 and has been the public face for the Republican agenda in the House.”
But Schoenberg’s article wasn’t about Bettencourt so much as it was about Mitt Romney practically getting down on his knees to thank Moroni for Bettencourt’s endorsement, then considered “a coup for Romney, who has made an effort in recent days to reach out to conservatives, including the Tea Party movement.”
Before it disappears from his campaign site, here’s what Willard had to say about Bettencourt last September: “I am proud to have the support of Majority Leader Bettencourt. He shares my goals of creating jobs, balancing our budgets and reversing President Obama’s failed policies. I look forward to working with him as I campaign across the Granite State spreading my pro-growth message.”
So, what did he do? Bettencourt, then a third-year law student at the University of New Hampshire, interned for Republican Rep. Brandon Giuda… once, for about an hour. Yet he turned in reports to UNH saying he’d interned for 165 hours over the course of 11 weeks.
What’s interesting is the first paragraph of the Concord Monitor’s write-up of the story: “House Majority leader D.J. Bettencourt officially resigned from the New Hampshire House yesterday after Rep. Brandon Giuda threatened to release documents showing the extent of Bettencourt’s fabrication of an internship he claimed to have completed at Giuda’s law office.”
“The extent?” Could there be even more “fabrications” we haven’t heard about (and probably never will, now that Bettencourt has resigned)?
In any case, Giuda is glad Bettencourt is gone, and, from the sound of it, so are lots of other New Hamsters.
(Not, mind you, that this makes Giuda a good guy or anything. As a poster at Democrats for Progress notes: “Before we annoint Giuda the hero, let’s look at the replay, shall we? Giuda gave Bettencourt this internship, but Bettencourt never showed up. Between January and May 24, it never occurred to Giuda that something was up? He is either full of it or he is oblivious to an epic degree. Since he waited until Bettencourt was safely out of his leadership post before saying anything, I am having a real hard time viewing him as a profile in courage. Let’s also consider the possibility that Giuda is trying to deflect attention from his own ethical issues. During floor debate on a tort reform bill a few weeks back, Giuda admitted that the legislation had been crafted in closed-door work sessions with health insurance industry lobbyists at his law office. This is a violation of both House rules and the state’s open-meeting statutes.”)
As for Bettencourt, he issued a public apology: “With deep disappointment, I announce that I am leaving the Legislature immediately. It is true that I misrepresented work as work I performed for Attorney Giuda. I take full responsibility for my conduct; I apologize to my family, friends, colleagues and above all my constituents.”
With “deep disappointment”? In whom, Betty, yourself? In Rep. Giuda for threatening to expose you? Or in some Higher Power for failing to keep your grade-school-level cheating a secret?
To be fair, there are some things — okay, two things — we like about D.J. Bettencourt:
1. He’s not a birther — and, in fact, blasted fark through professional birther nut and all-around whackadoodle Orly Taitz (who, BTW and OMFG, is actually going for the Repub nom for the U.S. Senate in California, which makes us wonder 1] if even she realizes the birther idiocy has run its course, and 2] if we should send her up a nice, long list of other kooky conspiracy theories to keep her busy and out of the business of clogging up valuable ballot space).
2. He called Bishop John Brendan McCormack of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester “a ‘pedophile pimp’ for his role in allegedly protecting abusive priests.” [Schoenberg] While not exactly accurate, that colorful phrase wasn’t exactly off the mark, either.
Victims’ attorney Roderick Macleish disagrees with us; in a 2011 Monitor op/ed, “McCormack should spend retirement in prison: Assessment by legislator was right,” Macleish wrote: “I could not disagree with New Hampshire Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt more on the Republican cuts to the budget. … But I disagree with the Monitor that Bettencourt’s choice of words, admittedly coarse but factually accurate, should have caused him to resign. I might not have used the term ‘pedophile pimp’ to describe the bishop but, stated simply, the facts are clear and unequivocal to support this assertion.”
Another interesting perspective on the Bettencourt-McCormack dust-up came in a surprisingly thoughtful piece from Michael Sean Winters in the Catholic Reporter (hardly the go-to place for anything more than staunch apologia). Winters agreed with Bettencourt, yet still managed to point out Bettencourt’s own glaring hypocrisy:
“[Bishop McCormack] may not have been a ‘pimp,’ as Bettencourt suggested, but he certainly participated in the cover-up of clergy sex abuse. … In a truly fine article posted at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, James Salt explained one of the reasons Bettencourt’s tirade was so wrong. Bettencourt had never questioned the bishop’s moral authority when the bishop came to the legislature to testify against same-sex marriage or abortion. Only when Bishop McCormack spoke out on behalf of the poor, and against budget cuts that would harm the poor, did Bettencourt attack his moral authority. Bettencourt’s moral inconsistency makes him an unlikely hero for those who remain angry about the sex abuse crisis.”
Let’s hope this is the last we hear of D.J. Bettencourt — at least, until UNH voids his diploma. We don’t know his diploma will be voided. There’s been no talk of his diploma being voided. We’re just hoping it will be voided. Seriously, as weaselly as lawyers can be, would you trust this guy as your lawyer? Not because he lied (isn’t Lying 101 a required first-year course in law school?), but because he was so darned stupid to think he could get away with it.
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