Live from Music Row, Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Congressman Andy Ogles (R-TN-05) to the newsmaker line to discuss his vote for Speaker Kevin McCarthy, their viral exchange, and making nice with Dan Crenshaw.
Leahy: On the newsmaker line, we welcome our friend Congressman Andy Ogles! Good morning, Congressman Ogles.
Ogles: How are you today?
Leahy: Well, good. Congratulations on being sworn in. I’m going to give you a hard time about something, though. Are you ready?
Ogles: (Chuckles) Go for it.
Leahy: (Chuckles) Alright. So you got sworn in, but that doesn’t mean you don’t get occasionally a hard time from your friends. So here’s what I’m going to give you a hard time about. In September, Politico quoted you as saying that you were supporting Kevin McCarthy to be head of the Republican caucus.
You came in studio here a couple of times in October. I had every indication that you were supporting McCarthy for speaker. There’s a picture of you with McCarthy and a big speaker’s gavel before the election.
And I think a lot of people were surprised and I was as well, that you were one of the 20 folks that opposed him publicly. It seems to me like you changed your mind, and I thought that was kind of bad form to do that. Your thoughts on that, Andy?
Ogles: First off, it’s a free country, and I can change my mind. And what we were fighting for were rules that would change Congress and transform for the American people. And all throughout that same time period that you just mentioned, we were acting in good faith, negotiating with leadership to achieve these changes.
And at the last minute, the negotiations broke down. And so when that happened, I didn’t go up there to kiss the ring. I went up there to represent the Fifth District. And so if the speaker or leadership is doing something stupid, I’m going to call them out.
And so it also should be noted that in my primary, that leadership, Jeff Miller, who is the speaker’s chief consultant, held a fundraiser for one of my opponents, and was a consultant for one of the Super PACs that was attacking me when I had him into my district, and that was an opportunity for us to say, you know what, the primary is the primary.
We’re moving on, we’re moving forward. But the moment the negotiations broke down, there was no deal. I did not kiss a ring and I’m not kissing anybody’s butt. I was elected to represent the American people. And if that offends somebody too bad. We got single-subject bills.
We have the ability to repeal omnibus spending. We now have 72 hours to read a bill. We have a committee that’s going to investigate the FBI and the IRS. Guys that’s transformative as we go forward and try to do business for the American people.
Leahy: Well, we are friends, and I had to give you a hard time about that. (Ogles laughs) And we’re on the record and you’re on the record, so let’s go forward. What committee assignments did you get, Andy?
Ogles: So that will be decided over the next few days. So yesterday, they did the chairmanship for four committees that were competitive. Different people were running for chairmanship.
I think they’re going to do some committees today, they’ll do some committees tomorrow and then they’ll finish up Monday and Tuesday of next week. Part of what I’ll be doing today is going around and meeting with the steering committee.
It’s roughly 33 people. They all get a vote, and you basically pitch yourself as to why your experience is relevant to that committee and then why your district is relevant to that committee.
Leahy: Congressman Mark Green who represents the adjacent district the 7th was named the head of Homeland Security. He’s part of the Freedom Caucus. He wasn’t one of the 20 rebels that voted against McCarthy for the first 11 ballots. He defeated Dan Crenshaw, who has been very vituperative in his attacks.
Gulbransen: There’s your word of the day for 2023.
Leahy: Vituperative, Andy, word of the day. Any thoughts on Mark Green becoming chairman of the Homeland Security Committee?
Ogles: Wait a minute, I’m going to go find my dictionary. (Laughter) No, I supported Mark in his run for chairman. This is a huge deal for Homeland Security. Crenshaw is a nice guy. He actually came up. So for your listeners who don’t know, he referred to us as 20 patriots that were fighting for these rules changes.
And I want to pause there for a minute. I want you to think about Monopoly or that game that you would play as a kid called red light, green light. The rules of a game can favor a player.
The rules of a game can actually predetermine an outcome, and that’s what’s been happening in Congress. So getting these rules changes was really important to how we conduct business in the House of Representatives.
Leahy: Crenshaw called you guys a bunch of terrorists but he’s made up with you? What’s the deal on that?
Ogles: Well, two things. One, he came up to me personally and apologized. He said, “I didn’t mean it. It was off the cuff. It was a turn of a phrase, please know I want to be friends.”
And then he has since gone on the media and done the same thing.
So he’s been a mea culpa and apologized for that. And so I’m good with Crenshaw. He’s a nice guy. He’s not as conservative as Mark Green and I, but he’s certainly a nice guy.
Leahy: So in terms of the events last week, and I think you and I probably disagree on it, I’ve called the events a debacle. Not for the fight over the rules, but how it changed perceptions of the Republican Party among independents in a very negative way, I thought.
But the drama was fascinating, and Andy Ogles, every time I turn around, you’re right in the middle of it. (Ogles snickers) You had a heated conversation with Speaker McCarthy that kind of went viral. What was that about?
Ogles: It did. It did. To be quite candid, I had received a text from a billionaire that I had never met.
Leahy: Now was this billionaire, George Soros? Who was the billionaire? It was not George Soros?
Ogles: No, this was a Republican donor.
Leahy: Was that a Hungarian billionaire, or was it because I saw some reference to that?
Leahy: It was a Hungarian billionaire. How many Hungarian billionaires are there out there? You don’t want to tell who it was?
Ogles: I threw a crumb out there. If you really want to figure out who it is, you can.
Leahy: (Laughs) Alright.
Ogles: But all that to say is so I’m even reached out to McCarthy, and he and I had about an hour-long conversation on a variety of topics. But for me, it was one of these things. Here we are. We’re negotiating in good faith. Someone gave up my cell phone, and I get this guy that I’d never met.
Leahy: By the way, Andy, it wasn’t me. I did not give up your cell phone. (Chuckles)
Ogles: But anyway so when he came up to me, he was really just kind of pleading because I was offended by the whole scenario. A, to be threatened and that someone gave up my personal cell phone for that purpose. So he was kind of defending himself. I didn’t do it. I didn’t do it. I wouldn’t do that. Trust me. I’m negotiating in good faith.
But it wasn’t as dramatic of a conversation as people might assume it was. And there’s even a moment in the video clips where I my shoulders go back, and I raise my arms, and I’m like, you got to be kidding me. Like, right. Come on.
You may not have given my cell phone out, but one of the people on your team did. But at the end of the day, I’m smarter than that. But we got it done, and it’s unfortunate that it took place and happened the way it did. We had offered that same proposal several days before.
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Andy Ogles” by Andy Ogles. Background Photo “U.S. Capitol” by GPA Photo Archive.