Brian J. Antag, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, said that he was not contacted by the Romney campaign ahead of the Saturday morning visit by Ryan, who stopped by the soup kitchen after a town hall at Youngstown State University.Actually, it was worse than nothing. Because in the process of trying to score political points by washing dishes that didn't need to be washed, Ryan injected politics into the charity, which is supposed to stay away from politics:
“We’re a faith-based organization; we are apolitical because the majority of our funding is from private donations,” Antag said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “It’s strictly in our bylaws not to do it. They showed up there and they did not have permission. They got one of the volunteers to open up the doors.”
He added: “The photo-op they did wasn’t even accurate. He did nothing. He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall.”
Antag, a self-described independent voter, said that he “can’t fault my volunteers” for letting the campaign in but said that the campaign “ didn’t go through the proper channels.”According to The Washington Post's Felicia Sonmez, who has done a great job covering this story, Antag said the whole incident has caused him a lot of "grief." As for what he would have done had Ryan asked for permission?
He noted that the soup kitchen relies on funding from private individuals who might reconsider their support if it appears that the charity is favoring one political candidate over another.
“I can’t afford to lose funding from these private individuals,” he said. “For us to even appear like we’re backing somebody, it’s suicide. … If this was the Democrats, I’d have the same exact problem. It doesn’t matter who it was.”
"I certainly wouldn’t have let him wash clean pans and then take a picture," Antag said.For the life me, I can't think of a better illustration of the fundamental emptiness that is the Romney campaign than this incident.
2:19 PM PT: True fact: 47 percent of soup kitchen volunteers say they would never wash clean dishes purely for the purposes of staging a political photo op. The other 53 percent thought the question was so ridiculous they couldn't stop laughing long enough to answer it.