U.S. Representative and former Navy Seal Dan Crenshaw (R-Houston) received criticism from other Republicans for comments during a November 5 event in the Houston area for the Texas Liberty Alliance PAC.
Wowie! Dan Crenshaw trashes ‘Freedom Caucus’ members Greene, Brooks, Gohmert, Gosar, Jordan, etc, as “performance artists” while defending Kinzinger. “We have grifters in our midst .. lie after lie after lie.” 🍿 pic.twitter.com/hoaGOcOx9s
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) December 7, 2021
A clip from his appearance was shared on Twitter by Florida attorney and former Republican Ron Filipkowski and gained over three thousand retweets and over 15 thousand likes.
The clip shows Crenshaw sitting next to two Houston-area candidates for Congress and fellow veterans, Wesley Hunt and Morgan Luttrell.
In the clip, Crenshaw says, “There are two types of members in Congress, there’s performance artists, and there’s legislators,” and the “performance artists are the ones who get all the attention, think [they] are more conservative because they know how to say slogans real well.”
Crenshaw continued saying, “[They tell] lie after lie after lie because they know something psychologically about the conservative heart. We’re worried about what people are gonna do to us, what they’re gonna infringe upon us.”
Crenshaw expanded on his point by bringing up Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois), who is known as one of the more vocal critics of former President Donald Trump in the GOP. Crenshaw told attendees that they might “cringe a little bit” to know that Kinzinger is one of the members of Congress who most consistently voted to support Trump’s policies.
“In the first two years of Trump’s presidency, when Republicans were in control… who do you think was at the top of the list of voting with Trump?” Crenshaw asked attendees. “Kinzinger voted with Trump almost 99%… do you know who was at the bottom? Everybody in the Freedom Caucus – all of them.”
The Freedom Caucus is a group of a few dozen House Republicans who hold considerable influence within the party. Reps. from Texas, Louie Gohmert of Tyler, and Chip Roy of Austin are also members.
Roy responded to Crenshaw’s comments. “Dan is a good friend, and we can agree to disagree on some things [but] I am confident in standing behind my record and the record of the Freedom Caucus of successfully fighting for the people we represent,” he said in a statement.
“Including this last week protecting against drafting our daughters, preventing our service members from dishonorable discharge, and fighting a dangerous [Department of Defense] office of extremism, among other things,” Roy continued.
Crenshaw’s comments also drew a response from prominent Houston radio host Michael Berry. Berry’s endorsement of Crenshaw during his 2018 campaign for Congress was key to getting him elected.
After Crenshaw’s comments, Berry retracted his support. “No, I do not support [Crenshaw],” he tweeted, “I am embarrassed I helped him win.” His tweet received over 20 thousand likes and was retweeted nearly three thousand times.
Crenshaw sought to clarify his comments on Thursday on the GOP podcast “Ruthless.”
“When I said grifters and liars, I wasn’t talking about the Freedom Caucus,” Crenshaw said. “I was talking about a general group of people that exists on our side.”
Crenshaw went on to praise current Freedom Caucus vice-chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and said he was primarily referring to people who “messaged knowingly falsely about” a recent bill that will improve the sharing of data nationally about vaccinations.
That recent bill was the Immunization Infrastructure Modernization Act of 2021 (H.R. 550) that passed the House with a vote of 294-130. Crenshaw was one of 80 Republicans who voted to pass the bill, while 130 GOP members voted in opposition. No Democrats voted against the bill.
The legislation calls for $400 million to be allocated to states to update the immunization information systems (IIS). The author of H.R. 550 is Rep. Ann Kuster (D-New Hampshire). She stated in a press release that the bill will “enhance security of the IIS” but also could be used to “remind patients when they are due for a recommended vaccine.”
In the full video of the appearance where Crenshaw made the controversial comments, he does speak on the vaccination bill and on criticism the Republicans who voted in support received.
“You heard online that 80 Republicans voted to track you in a vaccine database,” Crenshaw said, “if it sounds too ridiculous to be true, it’s probably not true.”
Crenshaw said the bill would decrease and “put guardrails on” funding for existing vaccine databases that do not track Americans individually.
“So you’ve got less money for it and more guardrails that require you in the law to make the data anonymous,” Crenshaw said, “so the real question is why did so many Republicans vote against that and then lie to you about it? Grifters.”
Other Texas Republicans who voted to pass H.R. 550 include Michael Burgess of Pilot Point, John Carter of Round Rock, Tony Gonzales of San Antonio, and Michael McCaul of Austin.