Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 7.28.14

Congressman H. Morgan Griffith
2014-07-28 17:01:05
Honoring M. Caldwell Butler Milestones are important to remember and commemorate. July 27 has long been an important milestone in the Watergate scandal, and is certainly worth commemorating. I appreciate the Roanoke Times for reminding me in an editorial that this was the week that former Congressman M. Caldwell Butler made a stand. I remember the events well, but being only 14 at the time, I had forgotten that the end of this July marks the 40th anniversary. Mr. Butler of Roanoke was a key player on the side of the “good guys” as that situation unfolded approximately forty years ago. As you may know, Mr. Butler served our nation in the United States Navy and graduated from the University of Virginia Law School before being elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. While there he served as chairman of the Republican caucus and as minority leader as well. Mr. Butler was elected to serve Western Virginia and the Sixth District in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1972, when incumbent President Richard Nixon handily won reelection against Senator George McGovern (D-SD). As noted in the editorial, Mr. Butler “…was advised to seek a seat on the House Judiciary Committee on the grounds that it was ‘a nice, quiet place’ to learn his way around” Washington. But for Mr. Butler, that wouldn’t be the case. Instead, in 1974 Mr. Butler and his colleagues on the Judiciary Committee were taking up the impeachment of President Nixon in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. Mr. Butler was one of the six Republicans on the Judiciary Committee to split with the Republican party and vote affirmatively for impeachment on July 27 of that year, saying “I cannot condone what I have heard,” and “I cannot excuse it and I cannot and will not stand still for it.” As Mr. Butler also said at the time, “The job isn’t that good that you should compromise yourself.” He bravely took a stand and, in doing so, he taught the world (including me) an important lesson about character. While he may be most known for his role in the impeachment of President Nixon, we in the Commonwealth know that his bravery and inclination to do the right thing was typical for Mr. Butler. Many of us have heard the oft-repeated story that, as a Congressman, Mr. Butler once saw a motorist stranded on the side of the road, and pulled over to help change a tire in the rain. And after having retired in 1982 at the young age of 57, Mr. Butler returned to practice law in Western Virginia. At one point I was involved in a case with a number of lawyers, one of whom was Mr. Butler. He and the other lawyers involved were conferring when a young lawyer – probably not yet aware of Mr. Butler’s history – began instructing him what they were going to do and intimated that, if he didn’t want to be beat, Mr. Butler would be well-advised to capitulate and do as the young lawyer was instructing. Mr. Butler took one look at the young lawyer, raised his hands in the air while shaking them, and said: “Oooooh, I’m so scared!”. I can only imagine the chagrin of that young lawyer when he discovered that he had tried to intimidate a man who had previously stared down the President of the United States. As an interesting aside, current Sixth District Representative Bob Goodlatte began serving the people of that district in 1977, when he worked under Mr. Butler as his District Director. And Bob is not only currently serving Western Virginia in the House, but he is doing so as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee on which his former boss, Mr. Butler, used to serve. Like Mr. Butler, Bob has not found the Judiciary Committee to be a “nice, quiet” one. In the editorial, the Roanoke Times noted that Mr. Butler is in frail health, which is a shame. I take this opportunity to publicly commend Mr. Butler for his service and his bravery, and ask each of you to remember that courage should always be admired. And perhaps this week, forty years after he took a stand, we could each include Mr. Butler in our prayers. As always, if you have concerns or comments or wish to inquire about legislative issues, feel free to contact my offices. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. ### Unsubscribe: griffith.house.gov/Forms/EmailSignup/
July 28, 2014
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U.S. Congressman Morgan Griffith
Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 7.28.14

Monday, July 28, 2014 –                                


Honoring M. Caldwell Butler


Milestones are important to remember and commemorate.  July 27 has long been an important milestone in the Watergate scandal, and is certainly worth commemorating.  I appreciate the Roanoke Times for reminding me in an editorial that this was the week that former Congressman M. Caldwell Butler made a stand.  I remember the events well, but being only 14 at the time, I had forgotten that the end of this July marks the 40th anniversary.

Mr. Butler of Roanoke was a key player on the side of the “good guys” as that situation unfolded approximately forty years ago.  As you may know, Mr. Butler served our nation in the United States Navy and graduated from the University of Virginia Law School before being elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.  While there he served as chairman of the Republican caucus and as minority leader as well.

Mr. Butler was elected to serve Western Virginia and the Sixth District in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1972, when incumbent President Richard Nixon handily won reelection against Senator George McGovern (D-SD).  As noted in the editorial, Mr. Butler “…was advised to seek a seat on the House Judiciary Committee on the grounds that it was ‘a nice, quiet place’ to learn his way around” Washington.

But for Mr. Butler, that wouldn’t be the case.

Instead, in 1974 Mr. Butler and his colleagues on the Judiciary Committee were taking up the impeachment of President Nixon in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal.  Mr. Butler was one of the six Republicans on the Judiciary Committee to split with the Republican party and vote affirmatively for impeachment on July 27 of that year, saying “I cannot condone what I have heard,” and “I cannot excuse it and I cannot and will not stand still for it.”

As Mr. Butler also said at the time, “The job isn’t that good that you should compromise yourself.”

He bravely took a stand and, in doing so, he taught the world (including me) an important lesson about character.

While he may be most known for his role in the impeachment of President Nixon, we in the Commonwealth know that his bravery and inclination to do the right thing was typical for Mr. Butler.

Many of us have heard the oft-repeated story that, as a Congressman, Mr. Butler once saw a motorist stranded on the side of the road, and pulled over to help change a tire in the rain.

And after having retired in 1982 at the young age of 57, Mr. Butler returned to practice law in Western Virginia.  At one point I was involved in a case with a number of lawyers, one of whom was Mr. Butler.  He and the other lawyers involved were conferring when a young lawyer – probably not yet aware of Mr. Butler’s history – began instructing him what they were going to do and intimated that, if he didn’t want to be beat, Mr. Butler would be well-advised to capitulate and do as the young lawyer was instructing.  Mr. Butler took one look at the young lawyer, raised his hands in the air while shaking them, and said: “Oooooh, I’m so scared!”.

I can only imagine the chagrin of that young lawyer when he discovered that he had tried to intimidate a man who had previously stared down the President of the United States.

As an interesting aside, current Sixth District Representative Bob Goodlatte began serving the people of that district in 1977, when he worked under Mr. Butler as his District Director.  And Bob is not only currently serving Western Virginia in the House, but he is doing so as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee on which his former boss, Mr. Butler, used to serve.  Like Mr. Butler, Bob has not found the Judiciary Committee to be a “nice, quiet” one.

In the editorial, the Roanoke Times noted that Mr. Butler is in frail health, which is a shame.  I take this opportunity to publicly commend Mr. Butler for his service and his bravery, and ask each of you to remember that courage should always be admired.  And perhaps this week, forty years after he took a stand, we could each include Mr. Butler in our prayers.

As always, if you have concerns or comments or wish to inquire about legislative issues, feel free to contact my offices. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.

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