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On Business, Blogging and Politics

By Greg L | 15 February 2014 | Virginia Politics, Blogs | 31 Comments

It seems some bloggers aren’t quite as interested in their readers knowing the truth as I am, so as much as I don’t want to write this, I really feel I have no other choice.

If you’re a reader of Bearing Drift, which has been doing a lot of heavy lifting to promote Barbara Comstock’s candidacy of late, you’ve probably been reading articles from these contributors:

Norm Leahy, Managing Partner, Virginia Line Media, LLC, fundraising, messaging, branding and creative communications
Shaun Kenny, K6 Consulting Group, Consulting, fundraising & social media
Jason Kenny, K6 Consulting Group, Consulting, fundraising & social media
Stephen Spiker, Mercury LLC, Communications and Political Consulting
Brian Kirwin, Rourk Public Relations, Political Consultants
Brian Schoneman, General Counsel & Board member, Virginia Line LLC

Shaun Kenny pretty much runs the day-to-day operations of Bearing Drift these days, when he’s not busy as a “Principal” at K6 Consulting Group.  K6’s biggest clients right now are Barbara Comstock and Eric Cantor, who also gets plenty of love on BD’s pages lately, despite his recent voting record that has a lot more in common with Democrats than fellow Republicans.  Have you ever noticed a disclaimer on any of the articles on Bearing Drift that the subject of the article happens to be paying the author for political consulting services?

Nope, I thought not. Me neither.

Behind the scenes, this Bearing Drift crew has been busy trying to push Comstock’s candidacy to other opinion leaders in Virginia and secure blog endorsements, also without any disclosure to these “friends” that they’re actually working for the candidates they’re pushing for privately. Their relationship with Comstock, to the extent it won’t be hidden behind third parties in campaign finance reports, won’t become public until April, after the filing deadline for Republican candidates in the 10th Congressional District, and right up against the April 26th firehouse primary when everyone is supposed to bury all hatchets and support whoever the nominee is.

A cynic among us might have lots to say about such a strategy.

I really wish these bloggers would just tell us when there’s a conflict of interest.  Many of them are friends.  K6 is a great outfit, they do really good work and I’d strongly recommend any campaign, or business for that matter, to contact them.  I can’t say enough good things about the quality of their work - it’s really top notch.  When you’re a blogger and a political consultant though, those conflicts are going to be frequent and highly material to the content you write and readers really ought to be able to know when you’re dishing up paid-for propaganda and when you’re honestly providing unbiased information. 

Otherwise, the only realistic conclusion anyone can ever draw is that everything on Bearing Drift is the product of a hidden business transaction.  That’s not a good thing.

The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author, and not representative of the position of any organization, political party, doughnut shop, knitting guild, or waste recycling facility, but may be correctly attributed to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. If anything in the above article has offended you, please click here to receive an immediate apology.

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  1. Stephen Spiker said on 15 Feb 2014 at 1:14 am:
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    1) I haven’t worked at Mercury in over a year.
    2) Mercury has no connection to Comstock, or any Virginia candidate for that matter.
    3) I’m not a contributor at Bearing Drift.

    You got my name right, at least.

  2. Jeanine Martin said on 15 Feb 2014 at 1:31 am:
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    Wow. Just Wow. Who knew? It certainly puts some blogs in a whole new perspective.

  3. Brian W. Schoeneman said on 15 Feb 2014 at 1:32 am:
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    I am not a political consultant. I’m an attorney, a lobbyist and a public official. Accusing me of accepting money to post favorable articles is defamatory, Greg.

    Not only is it defamatory, it’s hypocritical. It is utterly hypocritical of you to accuse Bearing Drift of accepting money from these campaigns in exchange for positive coverage when you run a political media company and routinely do work for the same people you are constantly praising online, including Bob Marshall. You have written 49 articles over the years on Bob Marshall and the 13th House District and I don’t see a single disclaimer that you work for him on those articles.

    Nor do I see any disclaimers anywhere noting that you’ve done work for Scott Lingamfelter, David Ramadan, Ken Cuccinelli, Tim Hugo, EW Jackson, Patricia Philips, Corey Stewart, Richard Anderson, or Dave LaRock. In fact, a search for the word “disclaimer” on the site here yields nothing close to a disclaimer about your work for these candidates.

    Did you film this ad for Bob that you posted on your site with no disclaimer? http://www.bvbl.net/index.php/2013/10/29/bob-marshalls-curious-cohort/

    There are no conflicts of interest to disclose. Every article I’ve written has been written by me without compensation from any campaign. All articles written on Bearing Drift have been written by individual contributors based on their personal opinions on these races. To claim otherwise is a flat out lie.

  4. Greg L said on 15 Feb 2014 at 1:37 am:
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    Oh, the tears. They are delicious.

    I especially like lawyers throwing around the term “defamatory” at me. Shall I respond with “bite me” now, or later?

  5. Brian W. Schoeneman said on 15 Feb 2014 at 1:43 am:
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    Respond however you want to respond and I will take whatever steps I feel are necessary to end your defamation of Virginia Line Media LLC.

    Folks can read a VPAP report. My name isn’t listed as a “vendor” anywhere. Yours is.

    I just find it ironic that you’d even go this route, given your own track record.

  6. Jeanine Martin said on 15 Feb 2014 at 1:49 am:
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    Brian, very nicely worded response. I can’t help but notice you do not say that no one at Bearing Drift is being paid by Barbara Comstock or Eric Cantor or other candidates, only that their opinions are their own. I’m not surprised that their opinions of candidates who pay them would be quite high and expressed often. Anything else wouldn’t work for them or their candidate, would it? No one would write a negative article about someone who is paying their bills! duh. Of course the opinions are their own, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t paid to express those opinions, early and often.

    Greg has never made it a secret candidates who have paid him. He mentioned that in his previous post on this subject. He has never hidden his political jobs from anyone. Apparently not all bloggers have been as honest.

  7. Brian W. Schoeneman said on 15 Feb 2014 at 1:56 am:
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    The policy at Bearing Drift has always been that individuals who are working for campaigns are not permitted to write articles about those candidates or campaigns. I am not aware of any of our contributors violating that policy.

    Greg is accusing us of not putting disclaimers on posts written by contributors working for campaigns, yet he has not done that himself. Regardless of whether he’s “made it a secret” or not, he hasn’t done what he is accusing us of failing to do.

    You really shouldn’t be talking about honesty and blogging, either. You’re one of the most dishonest bloggers I’ve ever seen.

  8. John F. said on 15 Feb 2014 at 8:40 am:
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    “The policy at Bearing Drift has always been that individuals who are working for campaigns are not permitted to write articles about those candidates or campaigns. I am not aware of any of our contributors violating that policy.”

    Haha. That is hilarious. Otherwise known as you can be a shill and slam other candidates. The worst kept secret in the past two weeks is that Shaun Kenney has been blabbing about being paid by Comstock. Meanwhile he has been slamming every single non-Comstock candidate while on the take. Is this the kind of shop you run over there?

    The truth is that it can take years to build a reputation and minutes to tear it down. You all owe a mea culpa to your readers.

  9. Ellie Lockwood said on 15 Feb 2014 at 9:02 am:
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    This is THE most interesting post and comments section I’ve ever seen. I’ve wondered who all these folks were ever since I discovered the world of local political blogs. Ah, now I get it.

  10. Brian W. Schoeneman said on 15 Feb 2014 at 9:18 am:
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    Shaun isn’t working for Barbara Comstock.

    I slam candidates because they deserve it and I’m legally barred from working for them.

    Greg, on the other hand, makes a living from being a paid blogger so this entire argument is hilarious.

  11. Greg L said on 15 Feb 2014 at 9:31 am:
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    Ha ha ha ha ha! Oh, dude, give up the lawyer thing. You’re a comedian!

  12. David Skiles said on 15 Feb 2014 at 9:31 am:
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    This is all a bit silly. This isn’t the Washington Post and no one in the blogging community is Woodward or Bernstein (though there are some that certainly think they are.) Individuals are allowed to support whoever they want and the blogging forum is a venue for them to share their opinions about candidates, just like you do on BVBL.

    Just because one member of Bearing Drift team is a political consultant does not render all of the posts by other writers subject to being attacked for being biased. Furthermore, the line of reasoning you are traveling down is a dangerous one. You, like many other bloggers are “vendors,” which, is an amorphous term, since the VPAP definition of a vendor could be someone who was a paid door-knocker. Nevertheless, if one were to do a search of all of the blog posts at BVBL over the years, I am certain that there was at least one post where you attacked a candidate who was opposing someone you were working for in which you didn’t provide a disclaimer.

    You may vehemently disagree with the recent post at Bearing Drift but the author isn’t a consultant but rather a very knowledgable activist in Northern Virginia. Furthermore, it should come as no great surprise that he is supporting Delegate Comstock.

    In any event, there’s that old saying that anytime you point a finger at someone, you have three pointing back at you. BVBL posts are written by a Republican vendor, just like many other opinion pages in the blogosphere. I respect your disagreeing with the recent Bearing Drift piece but the hypocrisy is rather troubling.

  13. Brian Kirwin said on 15 Feb 2014 at 9:40 am:
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    Greg, I thought you and I always shared a level of respect. I have never blogged about a client’s campaign or even a client’s opponent’s campaign. I am very upfront about what I do for a living (winning elections - 34 so far) and i say so on my bio. Including me in this accusation piece is beneath you since you and I both know my record and conscience is clear.

  14. Anonymous said on 15 Feb 2014 at 9:48 am:
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    Bearing Drift used to be a pretty classy place until it was taken over by the Kenny brothers as an arm of K6. You can tell who K6’s clients are at any given time by the flood of nonsensical posts attacking others.

    If you liked the Harry Byrd era, you’ll love a Comstock/Cantor regime in Virginia. This is just the beginning.

  15. S. Turner said on 15 Feb 2014 at 9:55 am:
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    Shaun Kenney’s mouth: the perpetual gift that keeps on giving.

    Everyone now knows from his last post that Shaun’s company (K6 Consulting) is being paid by the Barbara Comstock campaign. It was quite telling that he said his business partner Jason’s “business is his business.” This is pretty disingenuous as Shaun knows what business he has going in and out of K6. Of that business, Shaun would have a share. Then there’s the statements that the above blogger alleged. I would imagine if Shaun continues this precarious line of denials they may soon see the light of day.

    Furthermore, Shaun comes out and slyly tries to say no one is getting paid to blog as if that ends the discussion. The problem is that it doesn’t deny that you guys are receiving some monetary benefit from some form or fashion for other work.

    The truth is that Bearing Drifts editorial policy allows writers to pounce on candidates that oppose their sugar daddy. When you put two and two together it’s markedly clear you guys have a perception problem now.

    So what do you do? Attack the messenger, Greg.

  16. LCTP said on 15 Feb 2014 at 11:00 am:
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    Brian Schoeneman, and the Kenny’s are paid political hacks advancing the Democrat values in the GOP…what a pack of sickening losers…I hope not to see them at any LCRC events…thank you BVBL for exposing these hillbilly cretins!

  17. Michelle said on 15 Feb 2014 at 8:01 pm:
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    I’ve never commented on a blog before. However, I read what Schoeneman wrote about Bob Marshall. I found it to be mean spirited and disrespectful. To say some of the things he said about a conservative like Bob Marshall,who has probably done more in a week to further conservative, Republican values than Schoeneman has in his whole life, is bitter and ill-mannered. I understand that people will support various people in the race for Congress, but I don’t think it is necessary to destroy an honorable man like Del. Bob Marshall just because you’re supporting a different candidate. Disgusting.

  18. Brian W. Schoeneman (@BrianSchoeneman) said on 15 Feb 2014 at 9:33 pm:
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    I wasn’t destroying Bob Marshall because I’m supporting Comstock. I did it because it had to be done. The man is a cancer on the Republican Party. It’s time for him to go.

    Whatever good things Bob may have done for Republican values, he’s done far more to damage them.

  19. Wolverine said on 15 Feb 2014 at 10:02 pm:
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    Brian…I was pulling for you when you were a candidate. Despite being a Loudouner and not in your area, I said a few things on the blogs in your favor, including, of all the crazy things to have to do, defending the art work on your campaign signs against a nonsensical and mocking attack by a well-known, local ultra-liberal. I was greatly disappointed at the election outcome. But, I’ve gotta say, my man, that this attempt by you to kneecap Marshall really surprised the heck out of me. You not only ignored Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment. You buried it in the ground and are pissing on it. I have always figured you for a Repub Party peacemaker and not some kind of divisive Karl Rove. You are a good writer. Surely you could have found a way to make your case regarding a potential Marshall candidacy without revving up a chain saw. I’ve never been a party operative or even a member, but it does seem to me that all the elements of your party had better make a workable truce now. In my opinion, neither part of the party is going to win if the other part stays home in anger. The real foe is out there, not in your own house. (This goes for both sides.)

  20. Smilin' Jack in the 10th said on 16 Feb 2014 at 12:36 am:
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    The only surprise is there is no surprise. Everyone has known for weeks (months?) K6 works for Barbara Comstock and Eric Cantor. Their sudden interest in the 10th district made it rather apparent, even without Shaun blabbing it all over Richmond and beyond. Shaun Kenney is only making himself look the fool in his denials. The gentleman doth protest too much. He seems to have forgotten how many people he has told about the lucrative K6 contracts. He also seems to have forgotten how many posts Bearing Drift has done praising Barbara and/or trashing her opponents. What other republican blogger has tried so hard to justify Eric Cantor’s vote to raise the debt ceiling? Eric was one of only a few republicans who voted with Boehner to raise the debt ceiling. What republican could defend that, unless they were being paid to do so? Who other than the Kenneys have bothered to trash Cantor’s primary opponent? Were it not for the Kenneys, who would have known that Eric had a primary opponent, much less the gentleman’s name? Shaun’s howling in protest and denial is quite humorous.

  21. Scout said on 16 Feb 2014 at 9:14 am:
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    I’m not paid by anyone other than my non-political employer, I’m a Republican, and I have no trouble defending Cantor’s vote on the debt ceiling, SJ. I don’t even like Cantor. I think he’s a shallow, non-substantive pol who is way out of his league and who has been advanced way beyond his natural capabilities. But his vote on the debt ceiling was absolutely the right vote for the country and for the Party. It could not have been a comfortable vote for someone like Cantor. So credit where credit is due.

    I hope that answers your question about “What Republican could defend that, unless they were being paid to do so?” I’m sure there are a few million more of us lying around.

    This announcement was not paid for by anyone, alas. I will accept contributions, however.

  22. The Republican Brand said on 16 Feb 2014 at 10:19 am:
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    VP Joe Biden is correct ” There is no Republican party”..

  23. freedom said on 16 Feb 2014 at 12:42 pm:
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    If you all don’t stop this internal party quibbling, the only Republicans out there to talk about will be “challengers” — Don’t ya get it? That’s why we got the big BHO…come on, get smart. :(

  24. Brian W. Schoeneman (@BrianSchoeneman) said on 16 Feb 2014 at 3:02 pm:
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    Wolverine, I appreciate your past support and hope to have it again in the future.

    You’re right, I did ignore Reagan’s 11th Commandment. And, yes, I could have gone a different route with my post about Marshall. But that’s not how I feel about Bob. I think my piece on Dick Black when he was thinking of getting into this race was fair. There is a reason, however, that I went the route that I went with Bob Marshall.

    I’ve been in politics now for a while, and I’ve listened to folks talk about Bob. I’ve heard the complaints, the concerns, the issues, and the rest. And the one thing that I’ve seen, more than anything else, is an unwillingness to confront the man in a meaningful way. I, for one, am I tired of the fact that too many in the party hide behind false calls for “unity” and the 11th Commandment as an excuse to ignore bad behavior. Marshall’s behavior has been steadily costing the party, and I reached the end of my rope here.

    I consider myself a peacemaker still, but in this regard, I recognize that there will be no peace until we can shed ourselves of some of the worst elements among us. Bob is one of them, and it’s not because of his ideology.

  25. Old Redneck said on 16 Feb 2014 at 5:12 pm:
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    Republicans at each other’s throats???

    Sharpening the long knives???

    What do we call this??

    I’d call it a GOOD START!!!

  26. Anonymous said on 16 Feb 2014 at 6:36 pm:
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    “there will be no peace until we can shed ourselves of some of the worst elements among us.”

    I agree. Let’s start with Brian Schoeneman.

  27. Winston said on 16 Feb 2014 at 7:57 pm:
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    Don’t complain when you get McAuliffe and Obama. Some of you defend horrible candidates and then try to out-conservative each other.

    That’s what happens when you support candidates that really don’t belong in the 21st century.

  28. LCTP said on 16 Feb 2014 at 10:03 pm:
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    No, Brian Schoeneman, its time for you to go…you are the cancer to the GOP…you are the reason why folks are fleeing the GOP in droves….we realize you are a big bad lawyer, boy people are shaking in their shoes….fact is you are a paid political hack and anyone you supports needs to be defeated, plain and simple!

  29. Fort Home said on 17 Feb 2014 at 8:24 am:
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    I’m rather new at this discussion but I’ve yet to see Brian say
    anything about illegal immigration. Can someone point me in
    the right direction?

  30. Scout is David Skiles said on 17 Feb 2014 at 4:33 pm:
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    I think we need to clarify something. Yes its wrong for the Kenney brothers to blog about a race they are working on but the bigger issue is that calling the Kenney brothers political consultants is the funniest thing about this entire post.

  31. David Skiles said on 17 Feb 2014 at 10:14 pm:
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    “Scout is David Skiles,”

    Not for nothing but your comments would be taken a lot more serious if you signed your actual name to them.

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