UPDATED: Conduct unbecoming: Par for the course with Michigan Congressman Kerry Bentivolio

By tacit approval, Rep. Bentivolio endorses disparaging comments made by staffer Tim Bos about Rep. John Dingell.

UPDATE: Rep. Bentivolio’s office responds. See below.

When the news broke that U.S. Congressman John Dingell was retiring, social media was buzzing at full tilt. Almost to a person, everyone I saw comment on the news was respectful of Rep. Dingell’s longstanding service to his country. Politics were put aside to honor a senior statesman.

But it didn’t take long for the trolls to come out to play, which Susan J. Demas wrote about the following day. Read her terrific piece, because it shows both the best and the worst in modern politics.

Among the worst? Tim Bos, an aide to U.S. Congressman Kerry Bentivolio, who shared the news on Facebook with the comment “WOO HOO!” What ensued was a disgraceful show of partisanship from his friends and followers, none of which Bos made any effort to quell. In fact, he bemoaned the challenge of finding a Republican who could win in a district that includes “the socialist state of Ann Arbor.”

You can read it for yourself, because the post is public.

Although everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, and Bos can say what he likes, to do so publicly while employed by one of Rep. Dingell’s colleagues is an affront to everything good that Congressman Dingell has done in his tenure in the House. The fact that Rep. Bentivolio remained silent on Rep. Dingell’s retirement implies he had nothing good to say (“If you can’t say anything nice…”). The fact that he didn’t seem to object to his staffer’s behavior confirms it.

As a constituent, I wrote Rep. Bentivolio to tell him exactly how I felt. Here’s what I had to say:

You should be ashamed of the behavior of your staff member, Tim Bos. Your constituents all know how much you detest our government, and anyone who isn’t a member of the Tea Party. But for one of your staffers to speak out against John Dingell with such utter disrespect is a disgrace to you, your party, and the seat you are not fit to hold. … Rep. Dingell is what an elected representative should be. May his seat be won and held by someone who cares as much about the people he represents — something you and your staff will clearly never understand.

Strongly worded? Yes. But that’s how strongly I felt. This is not how our elected officials should behave. This behavior does not represent me.

I asked for a response, which I doubt I’ll receive. I’ve only ever had one response from Rep. Bentivolio or his office, despite having contacted him numerous times. If I do hear from Rep. Bentivolio’s office, I’ll update this post.

UPDATE: I did hear back from someone at Rep. Bentivolio’s office, in response to a tweet I posted sharing Demas’ article before I wrote this piece. Here’s the exchange:

I scrolled through the nearly 300 comments on Demas’ piece, and found her response:

I wanted to note that the Bentivolio campaign has written me today that Tim Bos was a volunteer, not an aide.

I am including a link for readers to Bos’ Facebook post on Feb. 15, in which he posts:

“As Congressman Kerry Bentivolio’s Re-election Field Director of Grassroots Operations and GOTV activities, let me be among the first to congratulate Ronna Romney Mcdaniel on acquiring her new role as RNC Committeewoman.”

Demas included the link to Bos’ post, too.

Of course, it’s possible that Bos is working in this position as a volunteer, but it doesn’t change the fact that he is representing Rep. Bentivolio. With a title like his, Bos should be held accountable for his behavior. The tweet Rep. Bentivolio’s team sent me is disingenuous at best, if not an outright lie.

This only underscores how important it is to remember that Rep. Bentivolio is an unsuitable representative of the people, an ideologue who has no regard for his Democratic constituents or colleagues. Obviously, he and his staff hold us in utter contempt.

Congressman John Dingell deserves much, much better. Everyone living in Michigan’s 11th Congressional District deserves better.

[Photos: Rep. Dingell photo by Anne Savage; Rep. Bentivolio official portrait]

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