Another bogus Napolitano health care vote-buying conspiracy falls flat

Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano falsely suggested that Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) “changed his vote” to support health care reform because the Justice Department ended its investigation of Mollohan. In fact, Mollohan voted for the House health care reform legislation in November, and Napolitano's allegation of a deal between Mollohan and the Obama administration is baseless. Media Matters previously noted that in the same segment, Napolitano falsely suggested that Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) similarly “changed his vote” because President Obama bribed him, even though Matheson has consistently voted against health care reform.

Napolitano baselessly links Mollohan vote to DOJ dropping probe

Napolitano: DOJ dropped its investigation and Mollohan “changed his vote to 'Yes.'” From the March 23 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

DOOCY: And you know, it is part of this storied history of Washington, D.C. There's a lot of this horse trading going on. As distasteful as Gator-Aid is or the Cornhusker Kickback, it's probably legal. But you say there are certain things involved behind the scenes that could be right up to the line. For instance, the judgeship that was offered and also dropping of criminal charges.

NAPOLITANO: Right. Congressman Alan Mollohan, a Democrat of West Virginia has been the subject of a federal investigation by the Justice Department for over a year now involving land deals. Congressman Mollohan voted “No” on health care first time around. The Justice Department dropped his investigation, he changed his vote to “Yes.”

DOOCY: Well, I'm sure that's a coincidence.

In fact, Mollohan voted “Yes” on health care reform both before and after investigation ended

Mollohan voted for reform in November while still under DOJ investigation. On November 7, 2009, Mollohan voted for the House's health care reform bill. On January 26, the Associated Press reported that the “U.S. Attorney's office in Washington, D.C., confirmed” the previous day that “the office has ended its probe” of Mollohan without charges. Mollohan voted for the Senate health reform bill and the reconciliation bill on March 21.

Fox analyst's baseless conspiracy theory undermined by facts

Allegations against Mollohan first leveled by right-wing group which reportedly refused to publically reveal its claims due to questions about their accuracy. On January 27, The Charleston Gazette (WV) reported: “The federal investigation dates back to April 2006, when the conservative-funded [National Legal and Policy Center] filed a 500-page report on Mollohan and his relationship with the Vandalia Heritage Foundation. The center refused to release the report publicly, saying some items it contains might not be accurate.”

Head of group that made allegations: They're “hard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.” The Gazette also reported: "'I'd like to have been in the room to have heard why they pulled the plug,' Ken Bohem [sic], chairman of the NLPC, said of the Justice Department's decision on Tuesday. 'A lot of times you get things you know are wrong but are hard to prosecute. Something that's done qrid quo pro [sic], where he did something and a private citizen did something for him, that's hard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he did one thing for the other.'"

In same segment, Napolitano falsely claimed Matheson switched his vote after his brother was nominated for a judgeship

During the same segment, Napolitano advanced the smear that Obama bribed Matheson to vote in favor of health care reform by appointing his brother to the appeals court and falsely claimed that after Obama's actions, Matheson “changed his vote to 'Yes.'” In fact, Matheson again voted “No” on health care reform and allegations of a deal between Matheson and the White House are completely baseless. Indeed, former Bush-appointed Judge Michael McConnell, who last occupied the seat to which Matheson's brother has been named, definitively debunked the smear.