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Corey Stewart’s Week Goes From Bad To Worse

By Greg L | 1 May 2013 | Virginia Politics, Prince William County | 4 Comments

What started out as a promising week for Corey Stewart’s Lieutenant Governor campaign has swiftly turned in to a really bad one.

Getting the Virginia Tea Party Patriots to endanger their 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status by endorsing his candidacy seemed like it would add quite a bit of momentum in the final stretch that targets a pretty important constituency at the convention.   Yes, the VATPP and the federal PAC that seemed to be running that show called it a “vetting process,” whatever that’s supposed to mean, but nobody else is using that meaningless term.  The momentum lasted a few hours until Tea Party patriots in Prince William County and elsewhere in Northern Virginia called foul and ignited a firestorm of criticism about how inconsistent Corey Stewart’s record is with the principles of the Tea Party.  While the mainstream media hasn’t covered the firestorm in much detail yet, the scope and speed at which that conflagration has spread among convention delegates through the new media has been pretty substantial.

The next blow came this evening as Virginia Virtucon accused the Stewart campaign of being behind a string of illegal, anonymous negative campaign materials with some pretty solid evidence to back up that conclusion.  All campaign communications under Virginia law are required to contain a disclosure identifying who authorized and paid for the communication, and not only did these not contain the disclosure, but either referenced non-existent entities as the responsible parties, or used throw-away, one-time YouTube and email accounts to actively hide the responsible parties.  There was something willful about the intent to break the law here, there was an active effort by a group of people to violate the law, and that might even trigger even greater penalties.

The civil penalties of $1000 for a violation under VA Code § 24.2-955.3 aren’t much of a deterrent when we’re talking about campaigns that are spending a half million dollars or more in a primary race, but it’s a certain public relations disaster to have a candidate for office willfully violating the law during their campaign.  Even a solid accusation of this sort of misconduct can destroy a campaign and that only gets worse when the campaign denies the allegations and they’re later found to be true.  Cheaters are bad.  Liars are worse.

So far this primary campaign has been remarkably free of negative campaigning, other than these mysterious unlawful attacks on Snyder and Lingamfelter.  That could change a lot in these last two weeks, since if Stewart has opened fire using dirty tactics against other candidates, they’re all now perfectly free to return fire on him in the form of lawful campaign mailings, advertisements and videos without looking like bad guys.  Being on the receiving end of campaign mailers from up to six other candidates all saying “I’m not a crook like this guy, vote for me instead” would be utterly devastating.

So in one week Corey Stewart’s campaign goes from charging on the offense to getting slammed into a decidedly defensive mode.  If in fact Stewart wasn’t behind these attacks, he’s got a very short window to uncover the real culprit behind these attacks and make sure that candidate gets hung out to dry.  If he hides out on this, everyone’s going to assume this is all true.  If Corey admits wrongdoing here, he might be able to get away with it unless he takes some poor staffer and loads the blame on them while claiming ignorance.  A mea culpa can be survivable, but the other alternatives are not.  There’s a lot of political wreckage out there from campaigns that tried to dissemble when caught doing something wrong, and that path always seems to lead to wherever George Allen is hanging out these days.

It’s not a happy place for anyone “coveting” an elected office.

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  1. Goldwater conservative said on 1 May 2013 at 10:51 pm:
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    Lets not forget that Corey was one of the first candidates in this race to PROMISE to run a clean campaign and ask for the others to do the same! He was using that line in some of the very first forums immediately following the November 2012

  2. Skepp said on 2 May 2013 at 10:04 am:
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    I do not believe that Corey Stewart is trustworthy in any situation.
    No proof - simply gut feeling.

  3. Anonymous said on 2 May 2013 at 11:20 am:
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    The Tea Party wants government to focus on “core services” yet endorses Stewart who spent $44 million in taxpayer money on a cultural arts center? Can any of you tell me that a cultural arts center –$44 million — is a “core service” of government?

  4. Jack Slimp said on 2 May 2013 at 2:08 pm:
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    Electoral perspective: I note the two videos do not mention “candidate,” “election race,” or say who to vote for or not vote for. There is no election violation.

    Now, speaking as someone “out of the loop,” it seems possible the videos could have been done by anyone, including a non-candidate, because he either doesn’t care for Pete Snyder or simply wants to reveal info not already known. (Note: I don’t know the validity of the statements).

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