Paul Ryan Lied About This 'Brown Bag' Anecdote In His CPAC Speech, And It's Not Even The First Time
Oh, politicians, when will you learn? If you make a false assertion in a public speech, someone's always going to notice, as House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan learnt this week. In a speech during the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, Ryan told an anecdote to support his claim that free school lunches give kids "a full stomach — and an empty soul.” As it turns out, Ryan lied about his brown-bag story, and his source did too.
Ryan was busy criticizing the Obama administration's "free lunch" program, and shared what attempted to be a moving story about a young man who just wanted to have someone make him a meal.
Now, Wisconsin Department of Children and Families Secretary Eloise Anderson did tell that story during a congressional hearing, claiming the little boy told her what was important to him. But as satirical blog Wonkette figured out, her story sounded a whole lot like an excerpt from Laura Schroff's book, The Invisible Thread, about the relationship between an executive and an 11-year-old homeless panhandler.
Here's an excerpt from Schroff's book:
Maurice looked at me and asked me a question.
“If you make me lunch,” he said, “will you put it in a brown paper bag?”
I didn’t really understand the question. “Do you want it in a brown paper bag?” I asked. “Or how would you prefer it?”
“Miss Laura,” he said, “I don’t want your money. I want my lunch in a brown paper bag.”
“Okay, sure. But why do you want it in a bag?”
“Because when I see kids come to school with their lunch in a paper bag, that means someone cares about them. Miss Laura, can I please have my lunch in a paper bag?
Sounds a little familiar, huh? Some digging from Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler found that Anderson appropriated the story as her own, from what she claimed was an television interview she'd seen involving the panhandler, Maurice Mazyck. But according to Kessler, there is no such interview referencing school lunches or brown bags. Someone's not telling the truth here (we're looking at you, politicians).
A spokesperson for Anderson said she had "misspoke" and really meant to express, "Once I heard someone say,” instead of telling the story as her own. Right. Then, Ryan was dragged into the mess, attributing it from someone he believed to be a trusted source, using the tale in a major speech. This whole thing is starting to sound like some high-school cafeteria drama.
Ryan offered his own apology on Facebook on Thursday. "I regret failing to verify the original source of the story," he posted. "But I appreciate her taking the time to share her insights."
It's not the first time Ryan's been caught in a lie. In 2012, the former presidential candidate falsely claimed he completed a marathon in under 3 hours, then backtracked on his statement after an investigation by Runner's World.