Congressman Anthony Ear, a Republican from Wisconsin’s ninth congressional district, was recently caught eavesdropping on a congressional committee meeting that he was not invited to, according to Ropers Wire Service.
According to congressional aides speaking off the record, two weeks ago Ear was revealed while hiding in closet to listen in on a meeting of the House Armed Services Committee.
Some scratching noises led committee chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-California) to open a closet door and find Ear taking notes on the meeting.
“Tony, this is just sad,” McKeon reportedly said to Ear, as the other committee members sighed and shook their heads.
Worse yet for the 43-year-old husband and father of three is the revelation that this is a pattern that has repeated itself several times throughout his career. He has been similarly discovered hiding in meeting-room closets three times, once in 2007 and twice in 2009.
Ear, who has served Wisconsin since winning his seat in an open election in 2002, has distinguished himself with his work on budgetary and farm policy matters. He is considered to be a moderate and has won praise for his work from members of both parties.
However, the current allegations are likely to inflict lasting damage on his once-promising congressional career.
In the earliest reported incident, Ear allegedly stood outside the door of a committee meeting room when the House Foreign Affairs committee in 2005. Ear had hoped to be appointed to the committee but never was.
Positioning himself just to the right of the door, the Yale-trained lawyer and son of a Lutheran Bishop was seen by several people fiddling with an electronic device that had an earpiece which he was wearing. Ear later claimed that its purpose was to “correct a hearing problem,” though there is no record of the congressman ever seeking medical attention for any hearing issues.
“He’s got perfectly good and respected positions on a number of committees,” said Patricia Shulberg, a former Ear aide. “There’s not a thing wrong with the agriculture committee, which depends on and absolutely adores him. Why does he have to sneak off and listen to the meetings of others? It’s just pathetic.”
Ear has issued press releases this week apologizing for his eavesdropping and has stated that although he is deeply ashamed and embarrassed he will continue his congressional career. This is despite a general feeling among his colleagues of both parties that he should resign.
Another politician from Wisconsin’s Ninth District, Democratic State Representative Roger Butts, has already decided to either run for the open seat if Ear resigns or to challenge him if he runs again in 2012.
“I don’t want to poke the man when he’s at the bottom,” said Butts, “But clearly Ear should listen to the people or get left behind.”