Pelosi defends Hoyer after audiotape suggests interference in House race

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi came to the defense of Minority Whip Steny Hoyer on Thursday after an audio recording surfaced of Hoyer apparently trying to pressure a progressive candidate for a U.S. House seat in Colorado to drop out of the race.

Some progressive Democrats, in turn, have been calling for Hoyer to resign.

“In terms of candidates and campaigns, I don’t see anything inappropriate in what Mr. Hoyer was engaged in — a conversation about the realities of life in the race as to who can make the general election,” Pelosi, a California Democrat, told reporters at her weekly news conference.

In the recording released by the Intercept, a man they identified as Hoyer, D-Md., tells candidate Levi Tillemann, a 36-year-old entrepreneur running for Colorado’s 6th Congressional District seat, to drop out of the race in favor of party-backed Jason Crow.

“Yeah, I’m for Crow,” Hoyer was recorded saying at the December meeting in a Denver hotel. “I am for Crow because a judgment was made very early on. I didn’t participate in the decision.

“Yeah, I’m for Crow. I am for Crow because a judgment was made very early on."

- Voice on audiotape said to be that of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

“But it was clear that it was our policy and our hope that, early on, try to come to an agreement on a candidate that we thought could win the general, and to give that candidate all the help we could give them.”

According to the Baltimore Sun, Hoyer was made unavailable for interviews, though his office didn’t dispute that it was his voice on the recording.

“Whip Hoyer is committed to taking back the House, and that involves working with local leaders to identify and support the strongest candidate for that district,” a statement from Hoyer’s office read.

Progressives have begun fundraising based off the Intercept’s report, Politico said.

Tillemann thanked the Intercept in a tweet “for helping to expose the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee]’s top-heavy tactics this year.”

Hoyer has since been called on to resign by progressive groups.

“Steny Hoyer and his corporate cronies already lost,” Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said in a statement. “They don’t represent the future, and it’s time for them to step aside and make room for a new generation of leadership — one that inspires and motivates the base instead of depressing it.”

“Steny Hoyer and his corporate cronies already lost. They don’t represent the future, and it’s time for them to step aside and make room for a new generation of leadership."

- Stephanie Taylor, co-founder, Progressive Change Campaign Committee

Meanwhile, Pelosi is calling the progressives' methods into question.

“I don’t know that a person can tape a person without the person’s consent and then release it to the press,” Pelosi said. “That’s what I’m more concerned about.”