Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie called out by opponent for displaying Confederate battle flag at home

Gladys T. Black

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie’s primary opponent is calling attention to the GOP congressman’s display of a Confederate battle flag at his Kentucky home when it was under construction 14 years ago.

Massie previously criticized his opponent, attorney Todd McMurtry, for reportedly posting racist tweets in the past. In an interview with local radio station WVXU on Monday, McMurtry responded to a question about the tweets by mentioning Massie’s flag.

“I have personally seen photographs of Congressman Massie flying the Confederate flag over his Kentucky home, so him attacking me as a racist is pretty ironic,” McMurtry said.

Massie started documenting the construction of his home in Garrison, about 104 miles northeast of Lexington, in 2003 through a blog titled “Building a timberframe home from scratch.”

In posts from July, August, September and October of 2006, Massie posted photos of the house without an exterior covering in its early stages. Each photo, taken from outside of the house, features a Confederate battle flag hanging downward from a wooden frame next to a modern-day American flag, also hanging downward.

In this image from video, Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., speaks on the floor of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, March 27, 2020. (House Television via AP)

Additionally, one photo from July 2006 shows a second Confederate flag hanging by the opposite side of the house.

Massie’s staff did not respond to several phone calls and emails seeking comment on whether the flag is still displayed in the home and why the congressman put up the flag.

For many Americans, the Confederate flag represents racism, as the group consisted of southern slave-owning states. The flag has been displayed today by those who want to express southern pride and white supremacists alike, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which classifies the flag as a hate symbol.

The comments on the Confederate battle flag in Massie’s home come as demonstrations have taken place across the United States demanding justice for those killed by police officers.

More: Marines order Confederate flags removed in ban that includes bumper stickers and clothing

In response to these protests, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday that the statue of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy and a Kentucky native, should be removed from the Rotunda of the state Capitol building in Frankfort.

On Monday, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer removed an 107-year-old statue of Confederate soldier John Castleman from Cherokee Triangle, stating that “the events of the past weeks have shown clearly that it’s not enough just to face our history – we’ve got to address its impact on our present.”

And in Virginia, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday that the statue of Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate army and a Virginia native, “will be removed as soon as possible” from Richmond, the commonwealth’s capital. The monument had been there for more than a century.

In the interview with the radio station, McMurtry also brought attention to Massie’s defense of U.S. Rep. Steve King, a Republican from Iowa with a history of racist remarks who lost his committee assignment in 2019 after questioning why white supremacy is considered offensive in an interview with The New York Times. King lost the Republican primary for his reelection last week to Iowa state Sen. Randy Feenstra.

“In my presence, he’s never said anything racist, and so I’m not ready to censure a man based on a New York Times article,” Massie told Fox Business Channel at the time.

The Kentucky congressman, who has served in the House of Representatives since 2012, has earned the reputation of “Mr. No” for the frequency with which he votes against legislation.

Massie was one of four representatives to vote against a House bill in February designed to make lynching a federal hate crime.

“I voted against (the bill) because the Constitution specifies only a handful of federal crimes, and leaves the rest to individual states to prosecute,” Massie told The Courier Journal at the time. “In addition, this bill expands current federal ‘hate crime’ laws. A crime is a crime, and all victims deserve equal justice. Adding enhanced penalties for ‘hate’ tends to endanger other liberties such as freedom of speech.”

Massie also voted against a coronavirus-relief package in April and threatened to hold up the vote on the CARES Act in March, earning him the wrath of President Donald Trump.

Massie also created a buzz during a radio interview on Thursday, in which he called many protesters demanding change in policing and racial inequities “violent looters and lawless criminals.”

“Is there an articulate person among the group who are upset with the way things are going that can step up to a microphone and speak for all the people?” Massie asked in the interview. “I’m not seeing that person.”

Follow Ben Tobin on Twitter @TobinBen.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie had Confederate battle flag in home

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