Paul Ryan and his wife, Janna, wash pots and pans at the St. Vincent De Paul… (Mary Altaffer / Associated…)
Republican vice presidential candidate Paul D. Ryan is stirring up controversy with a photo-op at a Youngstown, Ohio, soup kitchen.
Ryan, who spoke at a campaign event at nearby Youngstown State University on Saturday, stopped by a local soup kitchen without permission, according to the charity’s president, and “did nothing” during his 15-minute stay.
“They showed up there and they did not have permission,” Brian J. Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, told CBS News. “They got one of the volunteers to open up the doors.”
“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,” Antal, who was not present during Ryan's visit, said.
Antal has since elaborated on his remarks, telling NBC News on Tuesday that his accusation that Ryan contributed nothing was in comparison to the kitchen's other volunteers.
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Once inside, Ryan, his wife and three children talked to volunteers, then donned aprons and tackled dishes that, according to the pool report, were already clean, though Antal says Ryan did clean dirty dishes.
“You know, I spent a summer washing dishes,” Ryan said, recounting the calluses he’d get on his fingers.
Ryan also talked with homeless individuals outside the kitchen, but members of the media were barred from listening in on those discussions.
The Wisconsin congressman’s appearance has Antal worried for other reasons.
“We’re a faith-based organization; we are apolitical because the majority of our funding is from private donations. It’s strictly in our bylaws not to do it,” he told the Washington Post, which noted that the self-described “independent” has nonetheless voted in Democratic primaries for 17 years. “I can’t afford to lose funding from these private individuals. If this was the Democrats, I’d have the same exact problem.”
Ryan spokesman Michael Steel said the photo-op was “a great opportunity to highlight the importance of volunteerism and local charities.”
[For the Record, 11:30 a.m. PST Oct. 16: This post has been updated to include Antal's clarification of his remarks.]
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