Reporting in PIM on the latest Public Policy Polling, Mike Mullen writes:
As could be expected within weeks of declaring their [gubernatorial] candidacies, the relatively unknown Johnson and Honour both have serious ground to make up in terms in name recognition. Only 3 percent of those polled have a favorable view of Honour, versus 11 percent who have negative opinion; the rest are undecided. Johnson fares only slightly better, with a 6 percent to 13 percent favorable/unfavorable score.
Bluestem is here to help with Scott Honour's name recognition. And not in a nice way.
After his yeoman work to restore the fabric, if not the honor, of the Republican Party, we're surprised that former Republican Party of Minnesota Pat Shortridge, Honour's defacto campaign manager, agreed to have South Carolina political operative Wesley Donehue hired as his digital campaign manager.
My stars and garters, but that gentleman has a reputation in South Carolina--known for its dirty politics--for what the late Karl Rove once genteelly called "rat-fucking." And not the rat-fucking of Democrats, but rather, other Republicans. South Carolina Republican politics, Bluestem is shocked to say, is known for down and dirty Republican primaries, CNN reported in 2012 in South Carolina's dirty political reputation outlives reality.
Combing through that article, others online and in databases like Nexis, Bluestem has assembled a collection the sort of online internecine party civil war the Honour campaign is bringing to the Republican gubernatorial endorsement and primary process. Wes Donehue is the twitter-era spiritual heir of Lee Atwater, with a johnson for other Republicans.
Bluestem looked at Donehue's firm's used of paid trolls in All your base are belong to us: MN GOP gubernatorial campaign hires trolls in SC.
Here's a look at some Republican r-effing highlights from Donehue's career.
Donehue's star first glittered nationally in the muck in 2008. CNN reports in South Carolina's dirty political reputation outlives reality:
Wesley Donehue, a Romney consultant during the 2008 race in South Carolina, was caught red-handed after creating a Web site called "Phony Fred" that impugned then-candidate Fred Thompson's conservative bona fides.
In Minnesota, "Phony Fred" was backed by Kurt Daudt, among other prominent Republicans:
Fred Thompson's campaign announced the members of his Minnesota Steering Committee. Minnesota House Minority Leader Marty Seifert will serve as the honorary chairman and will lead the Thompson campaign in Minnesota. Other members of the committee include Rep. Tom Hackbarth, Margaret Cavanaugh, Mike Barrett and Kurt Daudt.
Nikki Haley's disappearing website
The Charleston City pages reported in 2012 that Gov. Haley claims political consultant pulled 'dirty trick' in 2010 election:
I spent most of the evening drinking and reading Nikki Haley's just released memoir, Can't is Not an Option, and in it the good guv is not afraid to attack her enemies, perceived or otherwise. Not that she is always willing to name them.
And in the case of Wesley Donehue, the man behind high-tech political consultant group Donehue Direct and the co-host of the Columbia-based Pub Politics, she's not. Haley pusses out.
In Can't is Not an Option, Haley writes:
I had set up a Web site where people could sign up to volunteer, get yard signs, or make donations. Hundreds of people were logging on. I began to allow myself to hope that we had tapped into something real in the grass roots of South Carolina.
Then I got a call. Our Web site had been taken down. People trying to log on to sign up for the campaign weren't getting in. The names of hundreds of supporters were being lost. Instantly, I knew the reason. The person who had built my Web site was also the Web site and social-media consultant of my opponent in the primary, Congressman Gresham Barrett. I had foolishly paid him to create my Web site and social-media outlets. What should have been a great day of collecting names was ruined by political dirty tricks.
It was a taste of what was to come, but there was no turning back. I was in. Just as before, the only option now was to win.
Yesterday, I got in touch with Donehue, who confirmed he built Haley's website, but beyond that he had no other comment....
Allegations about a Nikki Haley Affair
That's tacky, but the same post brings up another dirty politics episode in which Haley and Donehue played parts. For background, here's Wikipedia's summary of the smear:
On May 24, 2010, Will Folks, former press secretary for Governor Mark Sanford, claimed on his blog that he had an inappropriate physical relationship with Haley "several years ago". Haley denied the claim, stating "I have been 100 percent faithful to my husband throughout our 13 years of marriage. This claim against me is categorically and totally false." Folks attempted to substantiate his claim by releasing phone records that he said showed 700 calls between the two while Folks was working as a political consultant for the Haley campaign. Folks claimed that he was "forced" to reveal the (alleged) affair himself, before Haley's political foes publicized it first (to sabotage her campaign).
On June 3, 2010, Larry Marchant, a consultant for Andre Bauer's gubernatorial campaign, made a statement alleging that he and Haley had a one-time sexual encounter.
In a June 2010 interview, Haley said that if she were elected governor and the claims were later validated, she would resign the office (her immediate predecessor as governor, Mark Sanford, had been caught in an extramarital affair with a South American woman, which he eventually admitted to).
And here's the Charleston City Pages' take:
As you may recall, Donehue was one of the key players in the events leading up to FITSNews blogger Will Folks' allegation that he had an "inappropriate physical relationship" with Haley. You can read the barrage of text-messages between Folks, Haley Chief of Staff Tim Pearson, and Donehue in the days before the shocking announcement here. In those exchanges, Donehue both warned Folks that the allegations were about to be made public and said that he would try to prevent them from coming out, although he doesn't exactly say by whom — the assumption being the Barrett campaign of course.
In one particular text, Donehue writes:"Now, I don’t give a fuck [if] you believe me or not. You['re] the one who screwed her. You’re the one who bragged about it. She’s the one who told BJ [Boling]. Y'all point fingers at your own damn selves and leave me the fuck out of it."
While Donehue has stated that he once believed Folks' claims, he says that he no longer does.
Now You Don't See It, Now You Do: Jake Knotts "Raghead" Interview Video
According to Wikipedia's entry on Donehue:
On June 3, 2010, South Carolina State Sen. Jake Knotts used the ethnic slur "raghead" to describe President Barack Obama and Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley while appearing on a live broadcast of Pub Politics. Several people present at the political talk show's broadcast confirmed Knotts said "We already got one raghead in the White House, we don’t need a raghead in the governor's mansion."
The video of Knotts' remarks never made it online - unlike most of Pub Politics' episodes. In a statement, Donehue and Bailey said that what Knotts said does not fit with their program and its goals. A Washington Post report added that, "Conveniently for Knotts - who has been condemned by state Republicans anyway - the lack of the video prevents the story from taking on more steam." The Post added, "What's interesting about this is that Knotts is a close political ally of Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) - and Donehue, according to FEC reports, has done work for Wilson."
While Donehue quickly tweeted a disclaimer, he later said that Knotts was trying to be funny but crossed a line:
Wesley Donehue, a political consultant who co-hosts "Pub Politics," says he believes the comment may have been in jest, but it crossed a line. Related: Knotts Statement is the Talk of the Town
"I guess it was made as a joke," Donehue says. "He was talking about her religion and I think he took it a step too far."
"Knotts always says what's on his mind, so in that respect, he's a very honest guy and whatever comes top of mind he always says it," Donehue adds.
Donehue and the team behind "Pub Politics" originally said they would release the audio of the program, but now say they will not until at least after Tuesday's primary election.
Well then. The plot thickened in 2012, when the Knotts was challenged in a primary, and the footage was leaked to Buzzfeed. Donehue denied leaking the tapes.
Sanford: A piece of dung--then client
FITS News posted about the Mark Sanford's new campaign consultant for the GOP congressional primary-- Donehue, had just months earlier called his new client a mean word in a panel:
Last September (a mere five months ago) Donehue offered a graphic description of Sanford at college GOP forum.
“Mark Sanford is a piece of human shit,” the strategist told roughly a hundred college Republicans on the campus of the University of South Carolina.
We remember because our founding editor Will Folks (a.k.a. Sic Willie) was also on the panel.
Not only that, Donehue is alleged to have provided a national reporter with information on the whereabouts of Sanford’s sport utility vehicle shortly before the governor was busted having an extramarital affair in 2009.
Does Sanford know about that? Guess we’ll find out soon enough.
My, my.Donehue also raised the tone in that primary battle, USNews' Elizabeth Flock reported in Internal Emails Reveal Bitterness Behind South Carolina Special Election:
. . .The online conversation about the campaign, which happened on the "NewMediaExchange" Google group for center right technologists, began innocuously enough when one member posted a link about the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and how it spent its money.
But then the conversation was taken up a notch.
"If all else fails when trying to raise money for congressional candidates, just try this tactic," Wesley Donehue, a strategist recently retained by Sanford, wrote to the group. "Fair warning—it's illegal."
Donehue then linked to a news report about confusion in the Bostic campaign over whether a website that was raising money for the campaign was actually affiliated with it. It was later revealed the website was created by Ali Akbar, at the request of a volunteer on the Bostic campaign, according to local media reports.
Akbar, who is also on the listserv, immediately lashed out.
"Call Curtis and stop being scum Wesley," wrote Akbar. "It was approved then, it's approved now... Taking advantage of a growing campaign that's never experienced a race like this is unprofessional." Akbar went on: "And what you're asserting is down-right damning. So in 6 months when the FEC doesn't report my company to the Justice Dept, I'll get your Christian apology? Right brother? Low-level stuff dude. Do your Sanford thing, while I keep doing my good work. Or just keep making a meme out of me. Or yourself," Akbar then linked to a story about Donehue, which noted that before he began working for Sanford, Donehue had publicly called the former South Carolina governor a "piece of human [sh#t]."
The back-and-forth didn't go much further before a moderator stepped in and told the two to take their name calling elsewhere.
When contacted by Whispers, Akbar said that Donehue's "gutter tactics" are "what is wrong with the consultant-class." . . .
Bachmann's South Carolina Point Person
Donehue was Michele Bachmann's South Carolina point person for the couple of months her campaign was on the grounds. The conservative blog FITSNews reported:
Looks like U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s trial run with controversial South Carolina political consultant has been extended …
Wes Donehue – a new media specialist with ties to the state’s “Republican in Name Only” establishment – was named as the latest member of Bachmann’s South Carolina team, joining former George W. Bush appointee Ron Thomas and social conservative activist Sheri Few.
. . . Bachmann’s hiring of Donehue to aid her “First in the South” effort raised eyebrows – especially given the friendly relationship she’s enjoyed up to this point in the race with S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, who let Bachmann stay at the S.C. Governor’s Mansion twice during campaign trips to the Palmetto State.
Last summer Donehue was one of the GOP operatives responsible for advancing the story about our founding editor Will Folks’ 2007 affair with Haley – as evidenced by Donehue’s starring role in the numerous text messages released by Folks to support his stated rationale for coming forward about his relationship with Haley.
Since the scandal broke, Donehue has been among Haley’s most vocal critics – repeatedly skewering her on his weekly internet radio show.
“It’s a story in itself that Bachmann has hired a vocal Haley critic who pushed the affair story during the primary,” one South Carolina political operative told us. “Bachmann has been courting Haley for months, now she’s officially lost any chance of an endorsement.”
According to an article published in the Charleston Patch, Bachmann, Gingrich Battle For Tea Party Support, hiring Donehue turned some Tea Party members off to her campaign:
A former Bachmann supporter, Olson said the Minnesota Congresswoman's campaign turned him off when it hired Donehue and began going negative.
"There are some Tea Party members working as paid staff for the Gingrich campaign," he said. "But most of those people have previous experience working on campaigns so I really see no problem with them working for Newt's campaign."
The Patch article published one of the emails Donehue sent attacking Gingrich:
Bachmann staffers also distributed an email to supporters labeling Tea Party leaders and activists who took positions with Gingrich's campaign as sell-outs.
The email sent out by Bachmann's South Carolina Communications Manager Wesley Donehue reads, in part:
"Hey everyone — Newt Gingrich is trying to get a hold on South Carolina’s Tea Party activists. He’s just having one major problem — Tea Party activists know that Newt is the epitome of a Washington-insider...
"Because of these massive problems, Newt is doing the only thing he can ... he’s trying to buy the Tea Party movement. He is hiring Tea Party leaders as full-time staff and throwing fundraisers for Tea Party organizations. Just like his days in Washington, Newt still thinks he can just buy people off.
"Those who have sold out to Newt have not only undermined their own credibility in the SC TEA Party movement, but they have also seriously jeopardized the credibility of the entire movement for South Carolina by lining up behind a candidate that is the antithesis of all that it embodies." . . .
Bachmann announced local South Carolina support at the end of December, then suspended her bid on January 4, following a miserable showing in the Iowa caucuses.
Denial: The South Carolina Gingrich Abortion Email Smear
Donehue denied involvement, but suspicion turned toward him when eleventh-hour fake emails turned up, the Examiner noted in Dirty trick: Fake CNN email alleges Gingrich pressured second wife into abortion.
There's more to the Donehue record, but these incidents should give Minnesotan Republicans a taste of what's in store for them.
In the meantime, DFLers can continue to rally around Dayton and Franken--and cheer from the sidelines as the circle firing squad commences.
Photo: Phony Fred screenshot, via Washington Post.
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