In the old days, before the Internet and before bloggers, it was possible for political candidates to lie with impunity (even in print) and not fear being caught.
Not so anymore.
The Washington Post reports how congressional candidate Mark Ellmore, who is running for the GOP nomination in Virginia's Eighth Congressional District, fabricated quotations from that newspaper in a flier distributed to voters just days before the primary.
Theresa Vargas reports in today's Post:
A flier put out by Mark W. Ellmore's campaign days before Tuesday's U.S. House Republican primary in Northern Virginia falsely attributes material to The Washington Post, an error pointed out by his opponent and confirmed by Ellmore's staff yesterday.
Ellmore is running against Amit Singh in the primary for a chance to challenge Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), a nine-term incumbent.
The flier, which hit some mailboxes Friday, attributes the following photo caption to The Post: "Amit Singh with his political mentor Libertarian Ron Paul, who reportedly has plans to disrupt the Republican Convention in Minneapolis." Those words never appeared in the newspaper or as a quote elsewhere, and the photograph was not taken by The Post.
Political bloggers across Virginia have pounced on this as evidence that Ellmore -- who might be described as a "Mike Huckabee Republican," which is not exactly complimentary -- cannot be trusted to represent the people of the Eighth District.
Doug Mataconis, for instance, says:
It seems that Mark Ellmore’s campaign has been caught red-handed spreading blatant falsehoods about his opponent in Tuesday’s primary election....Posting at the George Mason College Republican Blog, The Young Reaganite offers:
I will say this much for Ellmore, he would be qualified to replace Jim Moran in one respect, they both seem to have an interesting commitment to the truth.
Mark Ellmore has managed not only to make himself look like a liar, he is jeopardizing the entire Republican establishment in Northern Virginia. It is imperative we elect Amit Singh to be our Republican nominee for the 8th district.Bearing Drift has a couple of updates on the story:
Update: The Ellmore campaign responded this afternoon with a press release that doesn’t address the accusations of false statements in their material, but in turn accuses Singh of using false statements in his latest mailer.and
Update 2: The Washington Post writes today that the quote and photo on the flier attributed to them never appeared in the paper. The Ellmore campaign told Post reporter Theresa Vargas that the information for the quote comes from the LA Times and that it was an “honest” mistake. However, a simple search of the LA Times Web site reveals that there is no article that writes about Amit Singh.You would think that, eight years into the 21st century and some fifteen years after the Internet began to play a role in political campaigns, politicians and their operatives would have learned that you can't get away with spreading falsehoods without being found out. Ellmore deserves to lose, not just because he's wrong on the issues, and not just because he's a liar, but because he's a stupid liar who's wrong on the issues.
Faking quotations from the Washington Post just invites scrutiny. Mark Ellmore, meet Gary Hart.
Update: After he saw this blog entry, Jon Henke asked me to write a short analysis of the Ellmore-Singh race for the new web site, The Next Right (motto: "Politics. Strategy. Action.") The result can be found here.