Posted on | September 25, 2010 | 119 Comments
“Doug Hoffman isn’t even in Congress yet and he’s already lining his pockets with tens of thousands of dollars. . . . Doug Hoffman — lining his pockets like a typical Washington politician.”
— Doheny for Congress, September, 2010
“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”
— Exodus 20:16 (KJV)
My previous post about the unfortunate situation in New York’s 23rd District seems to have been misunderstood. Some have suggested that I am striking a “True Conservative” (purist) stance; others are calling Doug Hoffman a “sore loser” a la Crist/Murkowski/Castle. Both interpretations are mistaken.
- In explaining that Republican candidate Matt Doheny can’t win Nov. 2, I was trying to give readers an advance warning, because I know what we’ll hear on Nov. 3 after Doheny loses. Hoffman will be blamed, and this will be filtered through the MSM’s warped prism to support their usual explanation for any GOP defeat: Conservatives are the cause of the Republican Party’s problems. That this argument is false, I think all my regular readers will agree — even those readers who were scalding me in the comments of the previous post. Only by explaining the background of the situation in NY-23 now, and giving you advance warning of the outcome, could I prevent you from being deceived by the MSM’s post-election spin.
- Hoffman is not a sore loser. As has been previously explained, the Conservative Party of New York decided after the 2009 special election that Hoffman would again be their candidate for 2010. I heard Mike Long say that on Election Night at the Hotel Saranac, as soon as it became evident that Hoffman had lost to Owens. Hoffman had “stepped up,” as Long said, when nobody else was interested in challenging Dede Scozzafava, and the Conservative Party was going to stick with him through thick or thin. Given that kind of steadfast support, and having accepted the Conservative nomination, should Hoffman tell Mike Long, “Thanks, but I’m going to quit now”? No, of course not. To do so would be dishonorable.
It was because of his desire to unify the Republican/Conservative coalition — the only hope for defeating Bill Owens in NY-23 — that Hoffman sought the GOP nomination. When Mike Long issued his May warning that Doheny was not acceptable to the Conservative Party, which was sticking with Hoffman all the way, that was the time for the voices that are now crying “unity” to have spoken up and rallied Republicans behind Hoffman.
That did not happen, and now I’m going to tell you why it didn’t happen. Go back to March of this year, when Hoffman was the first candidate to officially announce for the GOP primary in NY-23. At that point, as Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey said, “This time . . . Hoffman has to be an early favorite to run the table. He has a high profile, thanks to his amazing run last year.” Given Hoffman’s overwhelming advantage, why did Matt Doheny decide to challenge Hoffman for the GOP nomination? And why did Doheny win?
As I told you before, Doheny invested $1 million of his own money in the campaign and yet, as the Sept. 14 primary approached, it appeared that Hoffman would win anyway. That’s when the Doheny campaign sent out these two mailers:
The first mailer accused Hoffman of wrongly enriching himself, and the second mailer involved Hoffman’s payment of an FEC fine for campaign-finance violations. Doheny’s campaign also spent thousands of dollars to turn those accusations into radio and TV ads.
The accusation that Hoffman was “lining his pockets” is so vile and baseless that I regret even having to rebut it. Let’s go back to the 2009 campaign:
A month before Election Day, the Hoffman campaign had been nearly broke. Despite endorsements from organizations like Club for Growth and the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, the Conservative Party candidate’s challenge to liberal Republican state assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava was on the verge of fizzling out in early October.
“Truth be known, for a long time, we were running on empty,” said Hoffman, sitting in his campaign headquarters the morning after the election. “If we didn’t get the support when we got it — well, it was touch-and-go for a while.”
During that lean period, Hoffman spent his own money to keep the campaign going. The campaign subsequently reimbursed him for those expenses, which is entirely legal and proper. For the Doheny campaign to try to portray such a routine and honest transaction as Hoffman “lining his own pockets” with “special interest money” is absolutely dishonest.
The explanation of the FEC fine is equally innocent. The McCain-Feingold law requires campaigns to provide notification within 48 hours of all contributions over $1,000 received in the last 20 days before the election. There were 37 such contributions (totalling $55,000) which the Hoffman campaign received between Oct. 15-31. (Election Day was Nov. 3, so the 48-hour notification requirement obviously did not apply from Nov. 1 onward.)
None of these contributions were illegal or secret. The only violation was the failure to make notification within 48 hours. And, remembering that the Hoffman campaign was understaffed and in danger of going broke in early October — before Dick Armey and Sarah Palin made their endorsements — it’s easy to understand why the required notifications were not made in a sufficiently timely manner.
Yet there were additional mitigating circumstances, as the Hoffman campaign explained to the Watertown newspaper:
Robert H. Ryan, the candidate’s spokesman, blamed SecurePay.com, the campaign’s Internet credit card processor for the missing reports.
“We received an avalanche of money in the final weeks of the (last) campaign,” he said Tuesday. “When it hit zenith, the credit card processor could not handle the volume.”
Daniel A. Ehring, an Albany lawyer representing Mr. Hoffman, said the campaign started noticing discrepancies in its actual and reported contributions on Oct. 20 – one day after FreedomWorks chairman and former House majority leader Richard Armey endorsed Mr. Hoffman.
By Oct. 24 – two days after former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin backed Mr. Hoffman – the candidate’s staffers were receiving numerous phone calls from “irate campaign contributors” who were double and triple billed. Others, the attorney said, were charged $1,000 when they gave $100.
This continued until Nov. 2, the day before the election, Mr. Ehring said in a letter soon after the last election to Northern Merchants Services, SecurePay’s parent company.
Despite numerous phone calls from the campaign, Mr. Ehring said the number of billing issues only increased before the vendor ceased all communication with Mr. Hoffman’s team.
Ask any campaign official who has experience with online contributions. These kinds of problems are common enough to cause major headaches for even the best-financed campaigns with the most professional staff. That these problems overwhelmed the resources of a grassroots operation like Doug Hoffman’s 2009 campaign, putting them in violation of the 48-hour notification requirement, is hardly surprising.
The FEC assessed a total fine of $6,930 in the case and, while the Hoffman campaign might have appealed the ruling and gone to court, the attorney’s fees for such litigation would have exceeded the amount of the fine, so they paid the fine in August.
However, it wasn’t until Sept. 13 — the day before this year’s primary — that the FEC publicly released its report in the case, by which time the Doheny campaign had long since sent its mailers and run its TV ads falsely accusing Hoffman of “lining his pockets” and implying that this FEC fine was somehow evidence of corruption.
So now you know what Matt Doheny did with his $1 million campaign and how he won the GOP primary by 700 votes.
And I know Doug Hoffman. I’ve met him, met his wife, met his friends and his neighbors and his grassroots supporters. Everyone who knows him will tell you that Doug is a thoroughly decent, honest, Christian man. On Nov. 2, will those people vote for Doheny, who last year made the maximum donation to Dede Scozzafava and this year spent his money to defame Doug Hoffman?
It’s a free country, and people have to decide for themselves what to do in such a situation. I can only speak for myself.
Hoffman was a hero when we badly needed a hero. I cannot abandon him now, no matter what anyone else may say.
And I tell you this: Matt Doheny will not be elected to Congress.
Not this year. Not ever.