Lyin' Ryan

By John Gizzi and David Freddoso

Jack Ryan, the Illinois GOP’s nominee for the seat of outgoing Sen. Pete Fitzgerald (R.-Ill.), saw his campaign implode Tuesday after the release of highly embarrassing papers from the divorce custody battle over his nine-year-old son.

This came as a surprise to the two of us, despite the fact that we had heard rumors about Ryan–which in retrospect were surprisingly accurate. That’s because Ryan looked both of us straight in the eyes and lied to us in an off-the-record lunch two weeks ago.

At one point, we asked him point blank about the files and whether their release would be damaging. Ryan insisted emphatically that the files contained nothing untoward. And we said to ourselves later, why would he lie to us since the files were to be released in a matter of days? A campaign staffer even said to us, in Ryan’s absence, that Ryan was acting against his political interests by not releasing the files. He said that they contained nothing but information on his son, whom he loves dearly and only wants to protect.

Now a judge in Los Angeles Superior Court has released 400 pages of the files to the public, thanks to a lawsuit brought by two Chicago media outlets. The files, it turns out, contain extremely embarrassing accusations by Ryan’s ex-wife, actress Jeri Ryan, that he pressed her to have sex in front of crowds at swingers’ clubs in New York City, Paris, and New Orleans–including a New York club “with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling.”

The accusations could all be false, since in the midst of a custody battle, some people will say almost anything in order to get custody of their children. But the fact is, Ryan lied to us about the files’ content, which is why we are now reporting what he told us, falsely, off the record. It is difficult to explain how he thought he would get away with it. The candidate knew the truth was going to bite him soon, and yet he lied to everyone, including members of his party, without whose support he would not have gotten the nomination.

It would have been an uphill climb in any case for Ryan to win the Senate race, since Illinois has been trending leftward in recent years and is one of the few states in which Democrats did well in 2002. But by knowingly concealing the embarrassing allegations until after he had won the Republican primary, Ryan, should he remain the nominee, has irreparably damaged the GOP’s chances of holding onto Fitzgerald’s Senate seat. Ryan’s dishonesty alone could cost Republicans their majority in the U.S. Senate.

The Democrats have fielded an attractive, young, and extremely left-wing candidate. Barring the replacement of Ryan with another Republican candidate (and even then the odds of GOP victory would be very long), the public might as well get used to reading about: “U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.).”

John Gizzi is Political Editor of HUMAN EVENTS, and David Freddoso is Assistant Editor for HUMAN EVENTS.