A final eBay bid of $2.11 million secured a letter from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that demanded an apology from radio talk host Rush Limbaugh over his “phony soldiers” comment.
On his show today, Limbaugh announced the winning bidder was Betty Casey, a noted philanthropist and trustee of the Eugene B. Casey Foundation in Gaithersburg, Md.
It was the largest bid ever in an eBay charity auction, breaking the $800,000 mark paid for a Harley Davidson motorcycle bearing the signature of “Tonight” show host Jay Leno.
“The Eugene B. Casey Foundation believes freedom of speech is a basic right of every citizen of this country,” the foundation said in a statement on the auction. “Their purchase of the smear letter was to demonstrate their belief in this right, and to support Rush Limbaugh, his views, and his continued education of us.”
Meanwhile, Limbaugh chastised Reid for taking credit for the money raised by the letter during comments to colleagues today on the Senate floor posted by Breitbart.tv.
Reid is trying to “horn in” on the effort, said Limbaugh, who pointed out the Nevada Democrat has not apologized for accusing him of smearing troops who opposed the Iraq war.
“Now he has the audacity to climb aboard this, praising the effort, saying he never knew it would get this kind of money,” Limbaugh said.
Directing his comments to Reid, Limbaugh said, “It wasn’t your letter that raised this money. It was your abuse of power that is responsible for raising this money.”
If it were any other letter by Reid, he said, “people wouldn’t pay a dime for it.”
“This one represents an abuse of power by a U.S. senator, who after besmirching me by name on the Senate floor, gets a hold of my syndicate partner, asking him to confer with me about something he thought improper,” said Limbaugh.
‘That is why your letter is historic,” he continued. It’s “a full fledged, undeniable, 100 percent abuse of power.”
Limbaugh announced last week he would sell the original letter addressed to the head of Clear Channel Communications in order to benefit the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, a charity offering financial assistance to the children of Marines and federal law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
The No. 1-rated talk host said he wouldmatch the winning bid, and he challenged each of the 41 Democratic senators who signed the letter to match it as well.
Limbaugh said the winning bidder, Casey, has been a listener of his program since its inception.
“We cannot thank her enough for her support of this,” Limbaugh said. “I am honored and proud and happy to be matching her $2,100,100.”
Reid claimed Limbaugh’s use of the phrase “phony soldiers” was an attack on all U.S. troops who oppose the war in Iraq. However, a transcript from Limbaugh’s Sept. 26 show suggests the “phony soldiers” remark specifically addressed the case of Jesse MacBeth, an anti-war activist who claimed to have witnessed atrocities as a Purple Heart recipient in the Army Rangers. MacBeth never served in Iraq and was expelled from the military after 44 days in uniform.
The message on the letter’s eBay listing said: “This historic document may well represent the first time in the history of America that this large a group of U.S. senators attempted to demonize a private citizen by lying about his views. As such, it is a priceless memento of the folly of Harry Reid and his 40 senatorial co-signers. BID NOW!”
Limbaugh, noting he serves on the board of the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, said he would bear all costs of the auction: “Every dollar of your winning bid will go to this charity, which has to date distributed over $29 million.”
Clear Channel Chief Executive Officer Mark P. Mays responded to Reid’s letter with a defense of Limbaugh’s right to express his opinions openly on the airwaves.
Many elected officials, mostly Democrats, expressed their displeasure with talk radio following the defeat of what President Bush called his “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” legislation – a plan characterized by many talkers as “amnesty.” There were a number of calls for reinstating the Fairness Doctrine – which has also been called the “Hush Rush” bill.
As WND reported, another Democratic leader, Rep. Henry Waxman of California, angrily denied a report claiming he’s investigating Limbaugh and other conservative radio talk-show hosts, but the magazine which made the allegation is not issuing any retraction.
As WND reported, one radio station in Oregon decided to “hush Rush” for a day and replace Limbaugh’s talk program with music after receiving some requests from local listeners.
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Find out what’s coming next in THE WAR ON TALK RADIO – a special edition of Whistleblower magazine devoted to the wave of official attacks and those on the horizon.