Media barred from event

Photo by Carly Farrell

Photo by Carly Farrell

ALBANY, Ga. -- The top Republican in the U.S. House was reportedly the keynote speaker at a fundraiser for congressional candidate Mike Keown on Wednesday morning.

The event, which was held at Doublegate Country Club off Old Dawson Road, was closed to the public. And when three reporters arrived to cover the arrival of House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, they were asked by campaign staff -- who were accompanied by local and federal authorities -- to leave the premises entirely.

Keown is locked in a tight race with longtime Democratic Congressman Sanford Bishop, D-Albany.

The Albany Herald notified campaign officials Tuesday it would be covering the event and was told that, while the breakfast itself was closed to the public and the media, media would be allowed to stand outside, where Keown could make a few comments. Boehner, The Herald was told, would not make any comments.

Andrew O'Shea said the decision to boot reporters was Boehner's and that it was done largely out of security concerns.

The Democratic Party, he said, has hired a person to attend all of Keown's events, and while the campaign tries to prevent unauthorized recordings from getting out, they still somehow manage to.

Keown, who is running as the anti-spending, tea party-backed candidate in the race, told supporters at a taped Lee County GOP breakfast Sept. 11, reportedly filmed by a Democratic party official, O'Shea said, he wouldn't "sell out," to special interests or bow to the will of the power of congressional leadership even if it came from within the Republican party.

"I absolutely will not be sold out or sell out to any special interest. And, I'll be honest with you, I won't let the Republican Party push me around and tell me to do something I don't want to do, or something that's not good for the 2nd Congressional District," Keown said during that event.

Regardless of the coverage, the fact that Boehner made the trip is a boon for Keown, who, both in terms of polling and fundraising, is running neck-and-neck with Bishop.

Boehner, who will likely become the next speaker of the House of Representatives should Republicans take control of the House, has pledged his support to secure Keown a seat on the House Agriculture Committee if the Republican is elected.

Keown's fundraiser was the second significant stop on Boehner's trip below the gnat line this month. Boehner also stopped in Centerville to endorse former state representative Austin Scott, R-Tifton, for the 8th District Congressional seat.

In a video of the event posted on a local radio station's website, Boehner also promised to "do everything I can" to get Scott a seat on the Armed Services Committee.

While a staunch opponent of health care legislation and frequent critic of government spending, Boehner voted for a massive bank bailout that has been criticized by conservatives. This week, the Republican National Congressional Committee began airing ads attacking Macon Democrat Jim Marshall -- Scott's opponent -- for his support of the bailout.

According to the website opensecrets.org, the NRCC has spent more than $119,000 to back Keown in the 2nd Congressional race.