Monday on Fox News Channel, host Tucker Carlson questioned the relationship between House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and pollster Frank Luntz, who was criticized by Carlson last week for his association with corporate America and left-of-center viewpoints.
Carlson noted the relationship extended beyond just friendship but that they were “roommates.”
Transcript as follows:
CARLSON: On Friday, we told you about a character in Washington called Frank Luntz. Luntz lobbies — he is not a registered lobbyist, but he lobbies on behalf of some of the world’s most left-wing corporations. A lot of people do that? Here’s the interesting thing about Frank Luntz.
At the same time he is doing that, he also advises the leadership of the Republican Party. So Frank Luntz works for Google and Nike and Delta Air Lines, among many others. Several years ago, Frank Luntz advised the makers of OxyContin on how to blame rural Americans as thousands of young people in rural America dropped dead of opioid ODs. Frank Luntz did that.
So he is not someone that normal people would go to for advice, and if you were running the Republican Party, you definitely wouldn’t because Frank Luntz is effectively a Democrat. We know this, because we’ve listened to him.
Now Luntz typically launders his own opinions through the pseudo-scientific focus groups that he conducts, but in real life, his views, make no mistake, bear no resemblance whatsoever to the views of actual Republican voters.
So again, the question is, how did someone like this wind up with so much influence in the Republican Party? Why do Republican officials listen more carefully to Frank Luntz than they listen to their own voters? That is a mystery.
A lot of people have asked that question in Washington? And as of three days ago, here was our best guess for why.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: So why does Frank Luntz remain a fixture in Republican politics at a time when the companies he works for are opposed to the Republican Party explicitly so? Well, in part because he is particularly close to the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, and has been since McCarthy entered politics.
In an interview earlier this year, Luntz described Kevin McCarthy as a personal friend. And that relationship gives Frank Luntz outsized influence over the Republican Party’s policy positions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: So Luntz is a personal friend of Kevin McCarthy’s who is the top ranking Republican in the House. That’s what we said.
It turns out we didn’t know the half of it.
Over the weekend, we got a call from a source who said that in fact, Frank Luntz and Kevin McCarthy are not simply friends, they are roommates. Kevin McCarthy lives in Frank Luntz’s apartment in downtown Washington. That’s what we were told, and honestly, we did not believe it.
The top Republican in the House lives within Google lobbyist? Come on. Come on. Even by the sleazy and corrupt standards of politics in Washington, that did not seem possible. In fact, it sounded like a joke.
But this morning since we heard it, we called to check with Kevin McCarthy spokeswoman and when we raised this, she all but chuckled at the suggestion. No, when he is in Washington, she told us, Kevin McCarthy rents hotel rooms or sleeps in his office in the Capitol. He certainly isn’t living with Frank Luntz.
Okay, and that seemed logical to us. But we did press a little bit because we got the tip from someone we consider reliable and we just wanted to be sure. So the spokeswoman said she would get back to us.
Two hours later we got this text, quote: “Following up on our conversation from earlier today. Because of the pandemic McCarthy has rented room in Washington at a fair market price from Frank Luntz.”
So actually the top Republican in the House does live with someone who lobbies for Google. Mystery solved. Not only are they friends, they’re roommates.
So now you know why they listen to Frank Luntz, but they don’t listen to you.
No matter how cynical you become lately watching Washington, that’s still a pretty remarkable thing to learn. But other questions remain. For example, what did the coronavirus pandemic have to do with Kevin McCarthy’s choice of apartments? The Chinese unleashed virus on the world and all of a sudden congressional leaders have to live with Frank Luntz?
Was there CDC guidance on that? If so, we missed it.
If anything, COVID increased the number of housing options in Washington, D.C. In some places, apartment prices fell, but not in Frank Luntz’s building.
Frank Luntz lives in one of the most expensive buildings in Washington. We pulled the deed and we checked. The estimate that we found shows that Luntz’s condo in the fashionable Penn Quarter part of the city would likely rent for over $5,000.00 a month. That’s the quote, “fair market price.”
So the question is, is Kevin McCarthy paying $5,000.00 every month to Frank Luntz to live in his house? We would love to know the answer. We asked several times of his office and no one got back to us with an answer.
If Kevin McCarthy isn’t paying market price, he is likely violating House Ethics rules on taking gifts. And someday, we have no doubt we will find out exactly what he is paying.
But no matter what he is paying, as far as we’re concerned, the price of the apartment is not the crime here. Kevin McCarthy’s real crime is mocking his voters. Kevin McCarthy promises Republicans he shares their values. He tells them he’s on their side.
He says that he will fight for them against permanent Washington, the forces that would like to destroy their lives. Voters believe Kevin McCarthy when he says this. They send him back to office every two years. They send him money.
And at the end of the day, Kevin McCarthy goes home to Frank Luntz’s apartment in Penn Quarter, and he laughs about it.
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor