Inappropriate or understandable? Local reaction to Rep. Jim Banks ‘ranking member’ letter

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Jill Long Thompson, the last Democratic party member to represent northeast Indiana in the House of Representatives, joined the chorus of criticism for Jim Banks (R-IN3), who signed a letter as the “ranking member” of the Select Committee to Investigate the breach of the Capitol on January 6.

“For him to use that title when he doesn’t have that title is inappropriate and probably a violation of the rules of the House,” Long Thompson told WANE 15.

Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney entered the letter (see below) into the House record during debate Thursday. A Banks spokesperson denied the letter is misleading as it clearly stated Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not allow Banks to join the committee.

Long Thompson concedes Banks might be entitled as a member of Congress to ask for the information but not with a title he doesn’t have.

“I certainly hope that he will rethink his actions and take corrective measures,” Long Thompson said. “In all my years watching Congress and serving in Congress, I’ve never seen anything like this. You don’t sign-on as a ranking member when you’re not a ranking member.”

Long Thompson pointed out Banks’ claim to be “ranking member” ended when House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy withdrew all his nominations to the committee. McCarthy made the move after Pelosi refused to include Banks and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.

In a statement to WANE 15, Banks’ office contended the critics, not Banks, are playing politics.

Liz Cheney isn’t the Ranking Member. She is the vice-chair because she was appointed by Democrats. This is the first Select Committee in American history that doesn’t have a Ranking Member and is entirely partisan. Rep. Banks chose to highlight the unprecedented exclusion of the minority party in his letter.

The letter clearly states that Rep. Banks was refused the opportunity to fulfill his duties as Ranking Member. This is a bizarre Democrat narrative meant to distract from the actual contents of Rep. Banks’ letter and to avoid talking about the actual activities of the Select Committee, which are partisan, authoritarian and indefensible.

To reiterate, the letter requests the minority party receive access to information shared with the Select Committee. The question every member of the media should be asking: if this is a legitimate ‘above board’ investigation, then why is it being conducted in secret? Why do Liz Cheney and House Democrats think they’re the only ones who deserve to receive information from the executive branch?

Spokesman for Jim Banks

Banks’ office declined an interview request from WANE 15.

Indiana political observer Andrew Downs doubts the move will hurt Banks in the district.

“In the case of northeastern Indiana, the moment you can say ‘I’m doing something against Nancy Pelosi,’ you score a lot of points,” said Downs, Director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Purdue University Fort Wayne. “(Banks) not only underlines what he believes to be the lack of validity of the committee, but brings in a name that he knows people get a negative reaction to. It’s a good move politically for him.”

Downs said it’s “understandable” if Banks is trying to raise his national visibility.

Long Thompson cast the move as beyond politics. “Any member of Congress is accountable to the American public and to the Constitution,” she said. “That’s who one should be beholden to.”

Long Thompson served in the House from 1989 to 1995.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, DC,
September 16, 2021.
Hon. DEB HAALAND,
Secretary, Department of the Interior,
Washington, DC.

DEAR SECRETARY HAALAND:
You are receiving this letter because the House of Representatives Select Committee to Investigate the events of January 6th may have sent you a request for information. The House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy appointed me to serve as the Ranking Member of the Select Committee. Yet, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to allow me to fulfill my duties as Ranking Member.

Pursuant to the rules of the House of Representatives, the minority party in Congress retains rights to the same information that is provided to the majority party. For those reasons, I ask that you provide me any information that is submitted to the Select Committee. Additionally, please include me on any update or briefing that you provide. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact my staff.

Sincerely,
JIM BANKS,
Ranking Member.

From the Congressional record 10/21/21

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