Friday, June 6, 2008

GOP To Award Medal of Distinction to Druggie

If it's not one thing, it's another for the
beleaguered National Republican Congressional

Three bruising special election losses to Democrats in
traditional GOP strongholds ... A Republican
congressman caught with a DWI, a mistress and love
child ... Deceived by its own treasurer, who's under
federal investigation for possible embezzlement and
bank fraud ... Severely cash strapped... .

And now?

Now, of all the thousands of local Republican
politicians out there, the NRCC has chosen a drug
offender to receive a Republican Congressional Medal
of Distinction at the committee's annual President's
Dinner fundraising gala slated for June 18.

The recipient in question is former Springboro, Ohio,
city councilman Michael Hemmert, 53, who is undergoing
drug treatment in lieu of conviction for cocaine and
marijuana charges. As the Dayton Daily News reports, a
county judge ordered Hemmert to "abstain from alcohol
and drugs, submit to random drug tests and follow
other restrictions while on probation for three

The newspaper quotes an administrator of the Warren
County Common Pleas Court as saying the NRCC's Medal
of Distinction winner "shouldn't have any problems
traveling" to Washington to attend the dinner, as long
as he notifies his probation officer before leaving.

Hemmert resigned his council seat on Feb. 14 after
police "seized cocaine, marijuana and two cars" from
his home during the first of two searches, according
to the Daily News.

A GOP source tells The Sleuth that the NRCC was not
aware of Hemmert's drug background when it made the
decision to honor him. For now, though, it sounds like
the plan is still to present him with the medal at
this month's big dinner.

"There are a number of people in each state who
receive this award for their continued support for the
Republican Party and the NRCC," committee spokeswoman
Julie Shutley tells us.

UPDATE: The Sleuth followed up with e-mails and a
phone call directly asking whether Emmert will still
be honored now that the drug bust is public knowledge.
A source says as far as NRCC officials are aware,
Emmert will be attending the dinner though there will
be no formal awards ceremony at the gala.

Hemmert isn't even that big of a donor. Federal
election records show he gave a one-time donation of
$2,500 to the NRCC over the last three election

The NRCC's Democratic counterpart, of course, is
laughing harder than anyone. "Standards at the NRCC
have been flushed down the toilet," says Democratic
Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Doug
Thornell, adding, "Then again, they don't have much to
work with."

By Mary Ann Akers | June 5, 2008; 4:18 PM ET

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