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ROUNDUP: James Comer’s Meltdown Over Shady Business Deals and Family Influence Peddling

Nov 16, 2023

Watch Congressional Integrity Project’s new video on Comer’s meltdown

James Comer’s month just keeps getting worse. This week, news from the Daily Beast about his family’s influence peddling on farm-land and agribusiness made its way into an unrelated Oversight Committee hearing, which sent Comer into a total meltdown. As a reminder, the Comer family influence peddling took place while Comer held powerful positions in the state legislature, as Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner, and as a member of the House Agriculture Committee in Congress. Yesterday, the Congressional Integrity Project sent a letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) requesting an immediate investigation into Comer’s abhorrent behavior during the hearing.

Comer has spent all year investigating influence peddling and corruption by the Biden’s and has not turned up a single shred of evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever, while completely ignoring the issues affecting hard-working Americans. If Comer actually cared about accountability, he would start by investigating his own family and would release the last ten years of his tax returns and bank statements.

ICYMI: James Comer, Like Joe Biden, Also Paid His Brother $200K. “Comer has in particular been trying to make hay out of two personal loan repayments from James Biden to his brother, for $40,000 and $200,000—with all transactions occurring in 2017 and 2018, when Joe Biden was neither in office nor a candidate. But if Comer genuinely believes these transactions clear the ‘shady business practices’ bar, he might want to consider a parallel inquiry into his own family. According to Kentucky property records, Comer and his own brother have engaged in land swaps related to their family farming business. In one deal—also involving $200,000, as well as a shell company—the more powerful and influential Comer channeled extra money to his brother, seemingly from nothing. Other recent land swaps were quickly followed with new applications for special tax breaks, state records show. All of this, perplexingly, related to the dealings of a family company that appears to have never existed on paper. But unlike with the Bidens, Comer’s own history actually borders a conflict of interest between his official government role and his private family business—and it’s been going on for decades.” [The Daily Beast, 11/9/23]


The Louisville Courier Journal: U.S. Rep. James Comer Faces Ethics Complaint Over Heated Argument With Moskowitz. “A Kentucky congressman’s heated comments at a hearing Tuesday are the subject of an ethics complaint filed by a Washington D.C.-based interest group. U.S. Rep. James Comer’s behavior during the hearing prompted the Congressional Integrity Project, a left-leaning interest group, to request the House Ethics Committee investigate whether the congressman violated any rules. Comer, a Republican representing Kentucky’s 1st District, vehemently responded to criticism from Florida Congressman Jared Moskowitz over a reported $200,000 payment Comer made to his brother as part of a land swap in Kentucky. In a letter to the ethics committee’s chief counsel and staff director, Kyle [Herrig], the interest group’s director, said Comer made ‘inaccurate statements’ and ‘[viciously]’ addressed Moskowitz using obscene language at the hearing of the House Oversight Committee. ‘Representative Comer’s actions are not only a violation of the public trust, but a violation of his fundamental duty as a Member of the House of Representatives to uphold the letter and spirit of the House Rules,’ [Herrig] wrote. During a tense exchange, Comer called Moskowitz a ‘Smurf’ and said the deal with his brother was made because his brother could not afford land that the Comers wanted to keep in the family.” [The Louisville Courier Journal, 11/15/23]

The New Republic: James Comer Melts Down Over Report He Did the Exact Same Thing As Joe Biden. “Representative James Comer had a complete meltdown Tuesday when asked about loans he appears to have given his brother. Comer has insisted for months that Joe Biden is guilty of corruption, most recently citing a check the president gave his brother Jim Biden in 2018. But last week, a Daily Beast report revealed that Comer and his own brother have engaged in multiple land swaps over the years through family-owned businesses that do not appear to actually exist. When Democratic Representative Jared Moskowtiz asked Comer about the loans during a House hearing Tuesday, Comer grew incensed. ‘I’ve never loaned my brother one penny,’ Comer said, calling the story ‘completely false.’ Comer also said it was ‘bullshit’ that the story said he owned a shell company. As he continued to deny that he had loaned his brother money or that his family had engaged in shady business dealings, he grew more heated ‘You look like a smurf here, just going around and stuff!’ he yelled at Goldman. ‘You continue to spew disinformation!’ As Moskowitz shouted questions, specifically why voters should believe Comer, the Kentucky Republican yelled over him. He told the Democrat to go to Comer’s district and see all the land Comer owns for himself.” [The New Republic, 11/14/23]

The Washington Post: James Comer Is Mad Someone Would Abuse The Term ‘Shell Company’. “On Nov. 14, 2023, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) was successfully trolled. […] Comer was clearly aware of what Moskowitz was referring to, an article published last week by the Daily Beast that describes land sales between Comer and his brother. In fact, Comer was aware that Moskowitz had shared the story on social media, at which the chairman took obvious offense. He used an appropriately farm-related descriptor to describe the Daily Beast story as inaccurate and referred to Moskowitz, wearing a blue suit, as a ‘Smurf.’ He also made a very problematic admission. The direct comparison drawn in the Daily Beast story (and the one on which Moskowitz was focused) was Comer’s attempt to make financial interactions between Joe Biden and his brother James seem problematic. Comer’s committee uncovered two payments from James to Joe, for $200,000 and $40,000, each tagged as ‘loan repayment’ on checks signed by James’s wife. Documents seen by The Washington Post link those payments to preceding payments made by Joe to his brother, reinforcing the idea that the money from James was, as the checks written in 2017 and 2018 stated, meant as repayment. But Comer is on the hook from his peers to prove that Joe Biden is corrupt, so he’s invested a lot of time in the past few weeks claiming that maybe these weren’t loans or, if they were, that being repaid was a net ‘benefit’ for Biden, which is obviously a stretch. And that made the Daily Beast article, claiming that Comer, too, had made a similar payment to his brother, a very frustrating thing to have appear.” [The Washington Post, 11/14/23]

The Messenger: Rep. Moskowitz Says GOP Chair Comer ‘Needs a Mental Health Day’ After Heated Exchange. “Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Fla., on Tuesday said House Oversight Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., needs a “mental health day” after the two got into a heated exchange during a House hearing on Tuesday, during which Comer told Moskowitz he looked like a ‘smurf.’ ‘They have such thin skin, these Republicans,’ Moskowitz said during an interview following the altercation with MSNBC. ‘They like to dish it out but, man, they just cannot take it.’ The verbal confrontation happened after the Florida representative drew attention to reports that Comer has done business with and given loans to his brother while leading an investigation into President Joe Biden’s family and their business dealings. ‘You know, he’s been going on TV, day in and day out, talking about the brother and the president and they do business together,’ Moskowitz said. ‘And as soon as there’s an article written that the chairman is doing the exact same thing, all I did was ask the chairman to explain it, and he just totally lost it.’ Comer dismissed the report as ‘completely false’ and called Moskowitz a ‘smurf’ before the two began yelling back and forth at one another..” [The Messenger, 11/15/23]

Daily Kos: Looks Like Jared Moskowitz Seriously Got Under James Comer’s Skin. “Tuesday was an interesting day in Congress. Rep. Tim Burchett claims that Rep. Kevin McCarthy elbowed him in the kidney. Sen. Markwayne Mullin challenged Teamsters Union President Sean O’Brien to a fight. The dustup during a House hearing between Rep. Jared Moskowitz and House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer didn’t quite reach that level, but don’t sleep on it: On a semi-normal day in Congress, it would have been a remarkable brawl. The subject was Comer’s reported business dealings with his own brother, a relevant topic given that his allegations against President Joe Biden center around a loan repayment to Joe Biden from Biden’s brother James. Comer insisted heatedly that there’s no there there when it comes to his own situation, but boy, he was defensive. […] The two times Comer used the word “bullshit” in that diatribe suggest this issue is getting to him. As Comer descended into personal insults, Moskowitz attempted to reclaim his time. Comer began yelling, “No, I’m not going to give your time back, we can stop the clock. You all continue to, you look like a Smurf here, just going around and all this stuff.” Clearly, a man fully in control of himself and not responding emotionally.” [Daily Kos, 11/14/23]

Mediaite: ‘That Is Bullsh*t!’ Comer Loses It In Heated Battle With Democrat Alleging Hypocrisy on Biden, Calls Him a ‘Smurf’. “An ugly war of words broke out at Monday’s House Oversight Committee hearing with chairman James Comer (R-KY) resorting to calling Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) a ‘Smurf,’ of the small, blue, humanoid variety. The confrontation began when Moskowitz questioned Comer, who has been investigating the Bidens, about business dealings with his own brother. ‘I’m happy to yield you some of my time today, Mr. Chairman, because I think you owe it to the American people to explain why you’ve gone on Fox News and told people, while the president was out of office, he had a loan with his brother, and in a way they were evading taxes. It has come out in the public that you also do business with your brother with potential loans,’ Moskowitz said.” [Mediaite, 11/14/23]

Raw Story: ‘You Look Like A Smurf!’ James Comer Erupts After He’s Called Out On Dealings With Brother. “Rep. James Comer (R-KY) angrily rejected questions during a House Oversight Committee meeting Tuesday about his business dealings involving his brother. Reporting earlier this month showed the Kentucky Republican and his brother had engaged in land swaps involving their family farming business, which Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) mockingly compared to Comer’s allegations last week about business transactions involving President Joe Biden and his brother. Comer angrily denied his transactions involved shell companies or questionable practices – which on Tuesday he called ‘bulls–t’ written by ‘financial illiterate people.’ ‘You look like a Smurf in here, going around in all this stuff,’ Comer said. ‘Mr. Chairman, you have gone on TV and said the president did something illegal,’ Moskowitz said, as Comer talked over him. ‘You’re doing stuff with your brother, the American people have the same questions. Why should they believe you? Is there a different rule for the president, is there a different rule for you? Why should they believe what you’re saying, Mr. Chairman? You go on Fox News and say loans and deals are ways to evade taxes, we don’t know what you’re doing.’” [Raw Story, 11/14/23]

PoliticsUSA: James Comer Melts Down When He Gets Confronted With His Shady Business Deals. “Comer lost it when the shoe was put on the other foot and he was confronted with his own hypocrisy. Chairman Comer has already shown that he has zero credibility, but the exchange with Moskowitz revealed that he also has very thin skin. Chair Comer looks like a classic example of someone who can dish it out, but can’t take it. The tables have been turned. Comer is on the defensive. He has zero evidence that President Biden did anything wrong, but there is ample proof that Comer spent decades using his political power to benefit himself and his family.” [PoliticsUSA, 11/14/23]

The Daily Beast: James Comer Calls Dem a ‘Smurf’ During Meltdown Over Daily Beast Report. “Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) lashed out Tuesday after a Democratic colleague asked him about his family’s finances, snarling that the other lawmaker looked like ‘a Smurf.’ The lame insult came at the end of a fiery exchange with Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), who challenged Comer in the midst of a hearing on the U.S. General Services Administration by the House Oversight and Accountability Committee. Referencing Comer’s crusade to probe the Biden family’s business practices, including an alleged loan from President Joe Biden to his brother that Comer has implied is evidence of wrongdoing, Moskowitz asked if Comer wanted to address a report that ‘you also do business with your brother with potential loans.’ The Florida Democrat was referring to The Daily Beast’s exclusive report last week that Comer allegedly engaged in some questionable land swaps with his brother, funneling ‘extra money’ to him via a shell company, in the form of a $218,000 payment for a property they’d inherited from their father. (The story, contrary to Moskowitz’s telling, does not allege that Comer gave his brother a ‘loan.’) […] He also appeared particularly aggrieved that his LLC would be described as a shell company—an accusation he has repeatedly lobbed against the Biden family.” [The Daily Beast, 11/14/23]

The Hill: Moskowitz, Comer Get Into Tense Exchange At Hearing: ‘You Look Like A Smurf Here’. “Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) and chair of the House Oversight Committee James Comer (R-Ky.) got into a heated exchange on Tuesday. During a hearing focused on oversight of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), Moskowitz referenced a loan that President Biden made to his brother, which the committee has been looking into as part of the probe into Biden’s family finances. He said Comer has ‘gone on Fox News and told people that, while the president was out of office, he had a loan with his brother, and in a way, they were evading taxes.’ ‘It has come out in the public, that you also do business with your brother with potential loans,’ Moskowitz continued. ‘And so, since you have framed that and manipulated that with the American people, that Joe Biden did something wrong when he wasn’t in office, I just would like to know if you would like to use some of my time-’ ‘I would love- I would love it,” Comer retorted. ‘You retweeted that story, completely false. I’ve never loaned my brother one penny. My father, who was a dentist, had some farmland. He died and my brother couldn’t afford- he wanted to sell it, but he wanted to keep it in the family. So, I bought it from my brother. That story that you tweeted, also said I had a shell company. That is bulls—.’ The Florida Democrat later tried to reclaim his time, which then was followed by the two Congressmen going back and forth in a fiery exchange.” [The Hill, 11/14/23]


Rep. Jared Moskowitz (FL-23): “Gargamel was very angry today.” [Jared Moskowitz, X, 11/14/23]

Rep. Don Beyer (VA-08): “The story about a $200,000 payment to James Comer’s brother that has Comer furiously trying to shut down discussion is here…” [Rep. Don Beyer, X, 11/14/23]

Roger Sollenberger (The Daily Beast): “James Comer: ‘ don’t have an LLC.’ Yeah because it got shut down in 2021 and is in bad standing with the state.” [Roger Sollenberger, X, 11/14/23]

Jacqueline Alemany (The Washington Post): “An all around very angry Congress today: ‘You look like a smurf here,’ @JamesComer yells at @JaredEMoskowitz at GSA hearing after he’s asked about reporting that Comer paid his brother $200,000.” [Jacqueline Alemany, X, 11/14/23]

Philip Bump (The Washington Post): “James Comer finally found a “shell company” allegation he didn’t like (one that targets him).” [Philip Bump, X, 11/14/23]

Annie Linskey (The Wall Street Journal): “And now Moskowitz and Comer are having a verbal argument about whether Comer gave his brother a loan, a claim that Comer said is ‘bullsh*t.’” [Annie Linskey, X, 11/14/23]

Billy House (Bloomberg): “Latest Comer donor appeal says: “The Biden’s have stooped lower than we ever thought was possible. They’re coming after Chairman Comer’s family. We won’t stand for this, and neither will he.” Is there some irony in this?” [Billy House, X, 11/14/23]

Brian Tyler Cohen (MSNBC): “James Comer gave his brother $200,000 while claiming Biden is a criminal for loaning his brother $200,000. What is James Comer hiding?” [No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen, X, 11/14/23]

Cassie Semyon (Spectrum News): “‘You look like a Smurf.’ It’s like high school here on Capitol Hill between the fights and the name calling today. 🫠” [Cassie Semyon, X, 11/14/23]