Photos of Vice President hopeful Paul Ryan and his wife washing dishes in crisp white aprons at a Youngstown, Ohio soup kitchen last week were staged. The incident has become one more to add to Ryan’s ever-growing storehouse of lies but the fallout for the soup kitchen, the Mahoning County St. Vincent de Paul Society, has been a fast and furious drop in the number of donations.
As the organization’s director, Brian Antal, tells the Huffington Post about the amount of donations lost,”It appears to be a substantial amount. You can rest assured there has been a substantial backlash.” Antal (who describes himself as an independent and has reportedly voted in Democratic primaries for the past seventeen years) did not give the specific amount, as his organization is private and does not disclose such information.
Ryan’s visit has created a very big bellyache for the Mahoning County St. Vincent de Paul Society. Ryan supporters have targeted the charity and its volunteers in some very uncharitable ways, says Antal:
“The sad part is a lot of [the callers] want to hide behind anonymity,” [Antal] said, adding that if someone leaves their name and number he has tried to return their call. In addition to phone calls, people have posted a few choice words on the charity’s Facebook wall, including statements like “I hope you lose your tax emempt [sic] status,” “Anyone who is thinking about donations to you should think twice” and “Shame on you Brian Antal!”
People, this is a soup kitchen that serves over 100,000 people a year in a city whose economic fortunes have long been in decline. Any vitriol should only be directed at Ryan and his campaign.
As the Washington Post reports, Ryan’s visit occurred after he had attended a town hall at Youngstown State University and was not planned in advance with the charity, as is the case for the Ryan campaign’s impromptu stops. A woman in charge at the soup kitchen site told Ryan’s staff that a visit from him would be fine.
But by the time Ryan got there, breakfast had already been served, patrons had left and the hall cleaned. A few volunteers said they were happy to remain while Ryan, his wife and their three young children visited; photographers and TV cameras then took footage of “Ryan and his family washing pots that did not appear to be dirty.” Or as Antal commented, “[Ryan] did nothing. He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall.”
Noting also that Ryan’s staff failed to “go through the proper channels” to visit the soup kitchen, Antal told the Washington Post that even if they had “asked for permission, it wouldn’t have been granted” as the faith-based charity’s by-laws require it to be “apolitical.” Ryan’s campaign simply “showed up …. and got one of the volunteers to open up the doors.”
Fortunately, instructions about how to donate to the Mahoning County St. Vincent de Paul Society have been circulating on the Internet. But if anyone needs to know what some in the GOP think about the 47 percent — that they’re photo ops — the Ryan campaign has served up a full plate of evidence.
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