Byron Donalds Is Latest Republican House Speaker Hopeful With Checkered Past

Byron Donalds, Jim Jordan, Steve Scalise

Byron Donalds, Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise. | Source: Getty Images / Getty

Call it the holey trinity, if you will.

Though divided amid a contentious race to be the Speaker in Congress’ lower chamber, House Republicans have apparently been united along at least one front: Three of its Party members who have declared their candidacy for the position have extremely checkered pasts including suspicions of white supremacy, covering up a sex abuse scandal and now, with the latest entrant, drug dealing and corruption.

MORE: The Fight For House Speaker: Understanding The Madness On Capitol Hill

On Friday night, Florida Congressman Byron Donalds said he intended to run for Speaker of the House, a position that has been vacant for weeks since Republicans ousted the incumbent California Rep. Kevin McCarthy.


Donalds, who Republicans nominated for House Speaker in January,  is an adamant ally of former President Donald Trump who has in the past been separately arrested and charged with dealing drugs and bribery.

In 1997, Donalds was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor for the sale of marijuana. Donalds claimed he was in possession of the drug, not selling it. In that case, Donalds “completed a diversion program on the drug charge and the other was expunged,” NBC News reported.


Three years later, he was charged with a second-degree felony for receiving a bribe.

In 2014, Donalds opened up about that criminal case.

“Fifteen years ago, I came in contact with a girl. She offered me $1,000 for my debit card and my PIN number,” Donalds told Fox 4 Now at the time. “I never got the thousand dollars, but I had to make restitution to the bank in excess of 7,000.”

He later added: “I can’t undo my mistakes. The only thing I can do is show and become the man that I am today for my family and the community that I love.”


Donalds’ latest House Speaker candidacy came hours after Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan failed for the third straight ballot to garner enough votes to win the speakership. In fact, there was an increasing number of Republicans who voted against Jordan with each consecutive round of ballots. ​​

While Jordan openly supported Trump’s disingenuous attempted reversal of the 2020 election results, it probably didn’t help that he is also the subject of credible allegations that he covered up a ex abuse scandal within Ohio State University’s wrestling team when he was a coach there decades ago.

Jordan’s candidacy came while Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise flirted with running for House Speaker. Once it was reported that he was considering the move, Scalise’s past of speaking to a white supremacist group more than 20 years ago quickly resurfaced.

In 2002, Scalise – then the House’s third-ranking Republican – appeared at a convention of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, an organization founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

While Scalise has expressed remorse about that instance, it was just this year that the policies he champions were decried as “racist.”

To be sure, there are other Republicans in the running for House Speaker, including those without questionable histories that should preclude their eligibility for such a prestigious and powerful position. Despite their candidacies, House Republicans, a splintered as they are, have preferred to rally around and champion Conressmembers with extremist views.

This is America.


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