Bill Kemble of the Kingston Freeman found out that when Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) tells you to shut up, he’s not kidding. Last night, according to YNN’s Capital Tonight blog, Hinchey erupted after Kemble tried to get Hinchey to answer a question regarding allegations of conflict of interest between Hinchey’s earmark requests and his own financial interests the Partition Street Project, a story covered by the Freeman last May. Hinchey refused to answer, at one point telling Kemble to “shut up!” while on YNN’s camera:
Last night, he said he has “no financial interest” in the project, and pointedly told Kemble:
“What are you talking about…Are you trying to give the same phony stuff that are you put in the Freeman so many times. Are you still as deceptive as you always have been? Are still you a manipulative guy? You’re full of baloney. You’re full of baloney.”
At this point, another reporter tried to break in to ask a question, and Hinchey said: “Yeah, please ask me something. This guy is just full of baloney.”
When Kemble persisted, Hinchey told him: “Shut up!”
That would certainly be an interesting story on its own, but it gets worse for Hinchey. Later, when the debate concluded and reporters had begun to pack up their gear, Hinchey went looking for Kemble — and allegedly got physical:
After the shooters turned off their cameras and started to break down, Hinchey made a beeline for Kemble and got in his face, according to a YNN videographer who was on the scene. The congressman poked Kemble in the chest aggressively, according to the YNN staffer.
I spoke with Kemble briefly this afternoon, and he told me Hinchey “put his hand on my throat” and then “realized what he had done and walked away.” The YNN shooter told me he did not witness this part of the altercation.
When asked for a comment by Hot Air while Republican challenger George Phillips campaigned in Kingston, New York, Phillips offered a brief statement:
“This isn’t an issue to me. There was a brief disturbance as reported, but it didn’t result in any physical damage. I’m very pleased with the results of the debate and I’m focused on victory in Nov.”
Phillips also authorized the campaign to confirm that Phillips personally witnessed the incident, as well as confirming that Hinchey pushed Kemble backwards into Phillips himself. Phillips didn’t witness the hand going to Kemble’s throat, however. The YNN reporter who witnessed this was the other person asking questions in the video above, and not Kemble, who doesn’t work for YNN; some commenters at YNN’s site seem confused by the difference.
YNN has requested a comment from the Hinchey campaign; I have a request in for a comment or statement as well. I’ve also left a message for Kemble for more details, and will update this post as details arrive. Assuming this is fully accurate, Hinchey may have just written an embarrassing end to his Congressional career.
Update: Looks like I played Name That Party! Affiliations have now been noted.
Update II: The Hinchey campaign more or less confirms the incident, in an update to YNN’s post:
“Mr. Hinchey and Mr. Kemble have had a longstanding antagonistic relationship. Last night, Mr. Kemble rudely badgered Mr. Hinchey during an ongoing taped interview in an attempt to evoke a reaction,” said Liam Fitzsimmons, campaign manager for Rep. Hinchey.
“Following the taped interview, Mr. Kemble continued badgering Mr. Hinchey and took an aggressive step toward him in an attempt to provoke a further argument. Nevertheless, the congressman regrets he didn’t walk away from Mr. Kemble sooner in order to end the heated argument.”
So the reporter “took an aggressive step” towards Hinchey, and Hinchey responded by shoving him? And that excuses it? The YNN videographer’s version has Hinchey making a “beeline” for Kemble after the debate. At the very least, I think this statement allows us to call the story confirmed.
Update III: I forgot to include the link to YNN’s Capital Tonight story. My apologies; please make sure to read the whole article at the link.