January 31, 2007
Washington, DC - John McCain's inaugural get-out-the-vote meeting is taking place today in Dedham, Massachusetts according to the Boston Herald. [Boston Herald, 1/29/07] Ironically, while the meeting is supposed to be about getting people out to vote, McCain has hired a slew of political operatives who are famous for questionable tactics, some of which include voter suppression. The hires raise serious questions about how far McCain is willing to go to win the 2008 nomination.
While at the Republican National Committee, McCain's new Campaign Manager, Terry Nelson, was responsible for GOTV ads that were widely considered racist in the 2006 Tennessee Senate race, served as the middleman in a scheme that got former Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay indicted, and supervised James Tobin who was convicted of federal criminal charges stemming from illegal Republican voter suppression tactics in New Hampshire in 2002. A key McCain advisor in South Carolina, Trey Walker, was investigated for election fraud after sending misleading e-mails and is even on the record praising the brutal GOTV tactics the Bush campaign used against McCain in 2000. And McCain's recently hired New Hampshire spokesperson gained notoriety in the last election cycle for lying about her campaign's involvement in using fake blog postings to smear her candidate's opponent in the New Jersey Senate race.
"John McCain's willingness to look the other way and hire one of the most ethically challenged campaign teams in memory is a testament to how far he's gone down the do-anything-to-win path to the 2008 elections," said Democratic National Committee spokesperson Luis Miranda. "McCain's hiring practices suggest he's less interested in GOTV than in suppress-the-vote tactics the American people rejected in November."
Terry Nelson, Campaign Manager:
- McCain’s Hiring of Terry Nelson: Sign Of “Hardball Tactics” To Come. McCain named Terry Nelson as his campaign manager. Nelson is “known for hardball tactics that don't exactly square with [McCain’s] white-knight image,” such as the racist ad aired against Ford Jr., involvement in the DeLay indictment and the New Hampshire phone jamming scandal; Dick Polman noted that “in view of [Nelson’s] hardball track record, his presence at McCain’s side is sufficient proof that the ‘maverick’ label no longer applies.” [Time, 12/10/06; “Dick Polman's American Debate,” dickpolman.blogspot.com, 12/7/06; Union Leader, 12/8/06]
- McCain Strategist Terry Nelson Served As Middleman in DeLay TRMPAC Money Laundering Scheme, Named in Indictment and Had to Testify. Before the 2002 election, John Colyandro, the executive director of Texans for a Republican Majority, sent a blank check to Jim Ellis. According to the indictment, Ellis, who ran DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority, negotiated an exchange of corporate money for campaign donations with Terry Nelson, RNC Political Director. As a result, TRMPAC contributed $190,000 to the Republican National State Elections Committee on September 20, 2002 - a contribution that included corporate money. Within two weeks, the RNSEC contributed the same amount back to seven Texas legislative candidates that were TRMPAC targets. Nelson testified to the grand jury investigating the DeLay scandal in March of 2004. [Austin American-Statesman, 9/14/05; Travis County District Court Bill of Indictment, Thomas Dale DeLay, 9/28/05; CQ Weekly, 3/20/2004; San Antonio Express-News, 3/15/2004; Austin American-Statesman, 2/26/2004; FEC,4/8/2004; Texas Ethics Commission, 4/8/2004; AP, 3/20/04; Houston Chronicle, 10/15/05]
- McCain Strategist Terry Nelson Supervised James Tobin During NH Phone Jamming Scandal; Tobin Convicted of Federal Telephone Harassment Charges, Nelson Listed As A Witness. Tobin worked for the RNC and the NRSC during 2002, and was supervised by RNC Political Director Terry Nelson. On Election Day, a telemarketer hired by the New Hampshire GOP jammed the telephones of five state Democratic and one firefighters union get-out-the-vote phone banks. James Tobin was found guilty in December of federal telephone harassment charges for his role in the scandal. Though not called to trial, Nelson was listed on the Government’s list of witnesses to testify. [Manchester Union Leader, 10/20/05; Union Leader, 3/23/06; United States v. James Tobin, Government’s Witness List, 11/29/05]
Trey Walker, South Carolina State Director
- Trey Walker Investigated For Election Fraud; Admitted Sending Misleading Emails. Trey Walker, recently hired by John McCain to lead McCain’s South Carolina campaign, was "under investigation for election fraud because of his role in helping [Henry] McMaster" win the AG election while he was employed by Richard Quinn's firm, Richard Quinn & Associates. The investigation of Walker "center[ed] on Walker's admitted misrepresentation of an e-mail critical of McMaster's chief opponent, Charleston lawyer Larry Richter...Walker acknowledge[d] he circulated a newspaper article to 2,300 party activists on the eve of the June 11 primary. The article from The State reported that Richter once accepted $55,000 in cash from a man later convicted of drug trafficking. But Walker made it appear the article came from Richter's political strategist, Rod Shealy." [CNN, 1/8/07; The State, 7/12/02; 1/24/03; 11/11/03; 11/18/03; 2/14/04]
- Trey Walker Praised The Bush Campaign's Tactic Of "Demonizing" McCain In South Carolina. In the aftermath of the 2000 election, Trey Walker, who had been McCain's national field director and also was employed by McCain's top South Carolina advisor Richard Quinn, endorsed the tactics of the Bush campaign in South Carolina, where, according to Walker, "They made a conscientious effort to demonize John McCain among conservatives[.]" Walker said approvingly of the tactics, "you've got to give them credit. Their backs were against the wall...The means justified the end." The tactics employed by the Bush campaign included "independent attack ads, phone calls, rumor and e-mail" to "portray McCain as an ideological fraud," according to the State newspaper of Columbia. At the time of the negative campaigning, Walker had remarked of the tactics, "We are being absolutely carpet-bombed by the most vicious stuff I've ever seen[.]" [The State, 12/14/00; New York Post, 2/16/00; The State, 1/24/03]
Richard Quinn, South Carolina Spokesman
- Richard Quinn, McCain's South Carolina Spokesman, Criticized the MLK Holiday as “Vitriolic and Profane.” Richard Quinn, identified as "McCain's South Carolina spokesman" as recently as December of 2005, was also a South Carolina “strategist” for McCain in the 2000 campaign. [Spartanburg Herald-Journal, 12/23/05; Vanity Fair, 11/04] McCain has defended Quinn as being “highly respected” and a “fine man.” [Associated Press, 2/18/00; New York Times, 2/8/00] In a 1983 column Quinn wrote, "King Day should have been rejected because its purpose is vitriolic and profane. By celebrating King as the incarnation of all they admire, they [black leaders] have chosen to glorify the histrionic rather than the heroic and by inference they spurned the brightest and the best among their own race...Ignoring the real heroes in our nation's life, the blacks have chosen a man who represents not their emancipation, not their sacrifices and bravery in service to their country; rather, they have chosen a man whose role in history was to lead his people into a perpetual dependence on the welfare state, a terrible bondage of body and soul. [Partisan View, Southern Partisan, Fall, 1983] Quinn has also advocated electing David Duke, and sold T-Shirts through his magazine celebrating Abraham Lincoln’s assasination. [Partisan View, Southern Partisan, Winter, 1989, PFAW Release, 2/17/00]
Jill Hazelbaker, New Hampshire Spokesperson
- McCain’s New Hampshire Spokesperson, Jill Hazelbaker, Denied Using Fake Liberal Blog Postings to Smear Opponent Despite Evidence Linking Them. Jill Hazelbaker, who was hired by the McCain campaign as his New Hampshire spokesperson, was caught up in a campaign scandal in her previous position as Kean Jr. campaign spokesperson involving false blog postings smearing her opponent. As reported in the Bergen Record, “The Internet postings came from people calling themselves ‘cleanupnj,’ ‘usedtobeblue’ and ‘AmadeusNJ.’ They said they were concerned Democrats, ‘lifelong liberals,’ and they were troubled by the United States senator from New Jersey, Robert Menendez…But the liberal Democratic hosts of BlueJersey.com, the Web log where such comments were posted, smelled something fishy about the postings, and said they traced them to a computer inside the campaign headquarters of Mr. Menendez's Republican opponent, Thomas H. Kean Jr.” Facing the allegations, Hazelbaker denied involvement, calling the charges “nonsense,” and saying that “neither she nor anyone else she knows of in the office had anything to do with the postings.” Despite her denials, after growing “suspicious of the pro-Republican posters on his blog” the owner of BlueJersey.com checked registrations “and found at least four commentators who had registered since July with the same I.P. address, and noticed that it matched the address found on signed e-mail messages others had received from Ms. Hazelbaker. Reporters also confirmed the same IP address in their email exchanges with Hazelbaker, and noted that messaged contained information exchanged with Hazelbaker not yet published in their reports. [politicsnj.com, “Inside Edge,” 12/20/06; Bergen Record, 9/22/06; New York Times, 9/21/06]