The Rappahannock County Republican Party in Virginia censured Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.), accusing the freshman GOP lawmaker of "abandoning party principles," including on fiscal spending and immigration. But the lawmaker's office pushed back, defending his conservative record and saying the action had been taken "to punish" Riggleman after he officiated a same-sex wedding in July.

Congressman Riggleman responds: "Well here's the thing Guy and there's three things here. While you were talking and I really appreciate you having me on too. Number one I don't think of them as gay friends. I just saw them as friends you know. And that was the first thing, the second thing is that I believe that liberty. I believe that religion and civil liberties. Freedom of religion civil liberties can live in the same space. And I also believe that freedom and liberty doesn't stop at the bedroom door. I mean it's a it's just a very simple belief system of mine on equal protection before the law. And looking at friends like that who obviously loved each other and asked me they knew that this could be a problem and I knew it could be a problem the more problem for them and I feel sorry for them because of what they've had to see and read. So for me I'm OK Guy I'm going to be fine. I just wish that people would use real processes or if they really had an issue with me on something they wouldn't try to pivot to something else. Every time it's a typical political move it's a small committee where a lot of people voted to support me and then they had a process that was very iffy and that's going to come out here pretty soon. And you know you just are scratching your head like what are we doing here."

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Full Transcript:

Guy Benson [00:00:00] It's the final hour of the happy hour here on the Guy Benson  Show. Thank you for being here. I'm Guy Benson in New York City on this Thursday Guy Benson show dot.com is our Web site please do subscribe to the podcast if you would. I think it's worth it. First hours free. So what do you have to lose. Commercial free it's a terrific deal. Guy Benson show dot.com. Well my first guest in this final hour is a Congressman a Republican from my adoptive home state of Virginia, lived there for almost a decade now not in his district but not all that far away. You can hop in the car and get there. He and I met for the first time in person when I joined Congressman Steve Scalise and a delegation it was going to be a bipartisan delegation. But there was some issue where the Democrats couldn't make it. But it was out to an oil rig in the Gulf. You may remember if you're a regular devotee of the program. I talked about that experience it was fascinating and one of the members on the trip that I chatted with is my next guest. We also bumped into each other last week when Mary Katharine Ham and I spoke to the Republican House Conference on their retreat. The President spoke the night before. She and I had the breakfast gig the next morning and Congressman Denver Riggleman of the 5th District in Virginia came up to say hi. Congressman is great to have you on the show.

Rep. Riggleman [00:01:19] Well happy happy happy hour I guess.

Rep. Riggleman [00:01:22] It's good to be on.

Guy Benson [00:01:23] It's good to have you here. I first want to say you have detractors on the right. You have detractors on the left. I think it is crazy that anyone would want to rid Congress of by far its best named Congressman. Denver Riggleman must remain in the U.S. Congress just on principle.

Guy Benson [00:01:40] In my opinion.

Rep. Riggleman [00:01:42] We'll Thank you. I mean I'm the third guy. so it's it comes with a lot of History

Guy Benson [00:01:47] What's your middle name.

Rep. Riggleman [00:01:48] Lee I'm Denver Lee Riggleman the third.

Guy Benson [00:01:50] Oh that is a good one. That is just that's like out of a novel.

Rep. Riggleman [00:01:56] Well you know I looked up Denver because you know I don't think anybody had been west of the Mississippi that were Virginian West Virginia is where we're from so Denver means lush green meadow and Old English so I have no idea where. I just have no idea where that name came from.

Guy Benson [00:02:10] You just gotta roll with it and own it which you do it's a great name on a more serious topic though you have now been censured or reprimanded by three local Republican groups in your district. The most recent one that I'm reading about is from the Rappahannock County Republican Committee. They are they say that they're admonishing you for some of your votes on foreign policy on spending and some other things. Your office is responding to some of these critiques saying what this really is about is punishment because you were the efficient at a same sex wedding of two conservative guys who volunteered for your campaign last time out. I actually know those guys a little bit. What's the actual story here what's the backstory what's really going on.

Rep. Riggleman [00:02:57] Yeah. The Rappahannock County they did have some type of censure vote but I didn't know. I was a I didn't know I was like James Bond right. Providing arms to people. It was a it really was a process vote. They were angry about me officiating a same sex marriage so they they honestly trumped up some things we don't understand through a pretty I would say not transparent process in a small committee. And there's good people in that committee but they bought up some bills like Saudi Arabia arms deals or immigration and it's funny because we just simply said I don't know really what you want us to do we have a 98 heritage and heritage vote record. We voted with the president ninety three percent of the time and by the way you know if we disagree we disagree but those votes were very odd. Those were votes that were merit based immigration but also it was about Saudi Arabia which was actually a resolution I don't think they understood. So it all goes back. You didn't want to say this is a lot of people that seem to have an issue with some of the things that I've done concern with the same sex marriage guys. Really that's what it was about.

Guy Benson [00:04:00] So if that were the case if you have some people in your district who are angry and they feel like you shouldn't be presiding over a wedding of your friends and they want to express that in some formal way why didn't they just sort of step up to the plate and say this is what he did. We're not happy about it let's condemn him for that.

Guy Benson [00:04:20] Why do they have to dress it all up.

Rep. Riggleman [00:04:22] Because the other two votes that they had they had two other small committees that did this for the same sex marriage and they were roundly condemned. You know that's the thing is it's the same group of people honestly that they like small conventions they they like to mess with the process and really most the people behind this are the people who whose candidate I beat when I came out of nowhere. You know having been in politics guy I mean you've talked about this when I came out of nowhere and beat somebody who's I think run maybe seven hundred thirty times for public office so I think I think it upsets some people when I won and you still have some people that are angry about it and are looking for anything they can and I'm OK with that because if they got a jury rig the process in order to get these small resolution votes which really mean nothing in the grand scheme of things you know I sort of feel sorry about that. I would rather discuss it with them but they didn't really want to call me guy. They don't want anything to do with that. So it's been interesting to me as somebody new to politics to see people that have been in this a long time trying to manipulate the process and cheat a little bit you know to make things happen and that's OK because I didn't do this for a career I did this to do the right thing no matter what I continue to do that guy.

Guy Benson [00:05:24] So there were three of these local small committee votes and two of them were explicitly about your involvement in this gay wedding. And I mean this just seems like such a throwback to me right. And I'm not I'm not saying that everyone in your district or people who have their beliefs have to change their beliefs on the definition of marriage. They can do they can believe whatever they want to believe. The idea that they would come after you for helping to celebrate with your friends. I just feel like that's very a closed minded and b have they noticed sort of the state of the Republican Party in Virginia recently. It's been kind of a rough go. And the idea that we're gonna be purging or trying to punish people like you because you have some gay friends and you helped at their wedding ceremony it just also seems politically very myopic and frankly stupid.

Rep. Riggleman [00:06:15] Well here's the thing Guy and there's three things here. While you were talking and I really appreciate you having me on too. Number one I don't think of them as gay friends. I just saw them as friends you know. And that was the first thing, the second thing is that I believe that liberty. I believe that religion and civil liberties. Freedom of religion civil liberties can live in the same space. And I also believe that freedom and liberty doesn't stop at the bedroom door. I mean it's a it's just a very simple belief system of mine on equal protection before the law. And looking at friends like that who obviously loved each other and asked me they knew that this could be a problem and I knew it could be a problem the more problem for them and I feel sorry for them because of what they've had to see and read. So for me I'm OK Guy I'm going to be fine. I just wish that people would use real processes or if they really had an issue with me on something they wouldn't try to pivot to something else. Every time it's a typical political move it's a small committee where a lot of people voted to support me and then they had a process that was very iffy and that's going to come out here pretty soon. And you know you just are scratching your head like what are we doing here.

Rep. Riggleman [00:07:11] And you know you just are scratching your head like what are we doing here. Because the Republicans have four. We have four congressmen left that are Republicans. We have every possibility of losing the state house in the state Senate this year. And we're fractured and we're infighting over things that have long been settled and things we shouldn't be worried about no redress socialist over this.

Rep. Riggleman [00:07:29] Maybe we should worry about socialism. Maybe we should worry about nationalization of industries. Maybe the fact that all of us will be climate privileged before long that'll be the new word. Right. And so in talking about things like Medicare for all talking about government take over our lives the Republican creed to me was always Jeffersonian right. Limited government but making sure that we can do what we want to do for ourselves as long as we're not hurting other people and not breaking the law. There is no reason we should care about what other people are doing as always are not hurting others.  And that's just where I'm at guy. And if that gets me be so be it.

Guy Benson [00:07:59] Well you were telling me about this last week and I want to have you on just because I want to support you I think you have done something that is true to your convictions I think this whole tempest that they're trying to create is is a distraction and is harmful for the reasons that you just said and not that ideology should really matter but as I alluded to at the beginning of the segment these guys who just got married and congratulations to them they are supporters of yours who helped you in your last campaign. These are conservative Republicans in the LGBT community. I mean that's another small detail here that maybe some of your constituents don't like. But I think Republicans need to be in the business of winning every single vote that they possibly can in the biggest conceivable coalition especially in swing districts like your own. And I just wanted to bring you on and let you give your side of the story on and applaud you because sometimes it is hard to put yourself out there and have some incoming fire. This was maybe a risk that you didn't have to take but it's something you did for your friends. So thank you Congressman for that guy.

Rep. Riggleman [00:09:02] You just made my day I don't think it's a risk at all if you're doing the right thing which you think is right in your conscience in your heart. And I think when people do distract you said distractions earlier they are because you know I have a huge district over 10000 square miles and you talk about these distractions we don't work on our rural broadband opioid addiction and addiction crisis. Right we've been working on budget the USMC a we've been working on country of origin labelling trying to see if we can help with beef farmers. We've got dairy issues.

Rep. Riggleman [00:09:26] There's so many other real issues and that's the congressman and we're up on.

Guy Benson [00:09:29] I'm sorry to cut you off. We're up on a break. That's exactly. Now you've got to focus on the real issues. And I appreciate the work that you're doing on all that stuff that you just mentioned. And the reason that you came on this program today let's have you back hopefully under different circumstances soon that is Congressman Denver Riggleman of the 5th Congressional District in Virginia. Congressman thank you.

Rep. Riggleman [00:09:51] Keep up the fight guys.

Guy Benson [00:09:52] We'll be right back on the guy and show.