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Scandal: Ryan Involved in Photo Op

This is a real headline, courtesy of NBC News: “Ryan did wash dirty dishes during soup kitchen visit.”

So what happened? Well, the Ryan campaign contacted a soup kitchen in Ohio run by the St. Vincent de Paul Society on Saturday, and asked if it would be okay for Paul Ryan to come by. Per the Youngstown Vindicator, Juanita Sherba, who runs the kitchen on Saturdays, gave the campaign the green light (Sherba now regrets that, saying, “In hindsight, I would have never let him in the door,” and “I didn’t know it was my place to say ‘no.’ I made a mistake.”)

Then the Washington Post reported this yesterday (emphasis mine):


Brian J. Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, said that he was not contacted by the Romney campaign ahead of the Saturday morning visit by Ryan, who stopped by the soup kitchen after a town hall at Youngstown State University.

“We’re a faith-based organization; we are apolitical because the majority of our funding is from private donations,” Antal said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “It’s strictly in our bylaws not to do it. They showed up there, and they did not have permission. They got one of the volunteers to open up the doors.”

He added: “The photo-op they did wasn’t even accurate. He did nothing. He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall.” 

Two pieces of crucial information have since come out: Antal, who self-identified as an independent, has voted in Democratic primaries since 1995 (which to its credit, the Washington Post unearthed, although not until today), and Ryan, in fact, washed a dirty dish or two (which the Post has updated its story with). From NBC News:


Amid questions and criticisms related to Paul Ryan’s visit this weekend to an Ohio soup kitchen, the charity’s president said the Republican vice presidential candidate did, in fact, scrub dirty dishes though his visit wasn’t officially sanctioned.

The question of whether the Wisconsin congressman cleaned dishes that were actually dirty – as opposed to re-washing already clean dishes so as to get a good photo opportunity — Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society President Brian Antal clarified that Ryan did clean soiled dishes. This differs from what Antal had told The Washington Post Monday.

Speaking Tuesday morning with NBC News, Antal said he was not on-site when Ryan was at the soup kitchen and attributes his earlier comments that the dishes were clean when Ryan washed them to hearing the details second-hand from a volunteer.

Ryan spokesperson Brendan Buck e-mailed this comment in response: “We are always happy to highlight the importance of volunteerism and local charities.”

Katrina TrinkoKatrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...


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