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When Consultants Destroy Their Candidates

By Greg L | 29 September 2014 | RPV, PWCRC, Virginia Politics, Prince William County | 14 Comments

I visited with Scott Jacobs today, originally to confirm that it was one of his employees pictured on Virginia Virtucon taking down one of Jeanine Lawson’s signs.  Scott was still in the midst of trying to figure out what to do in the wake of his campaign essentially coming to an abrupt end after neglecting to file as a candidate for the Mass Meeting on time, while blogs were breaking the story of the latest campaign screw-up.  I gave him my best honest advice - to get ahead of the story, do everything he can to preserve his reputation for a future run for office, and it all seemed as if this wasn’t advice he was getting as he continued to struggle with what to do.

Right there in the midst of our chat, is his campaign manager Owen Burgess from Bull Run Strategies and it struck me: how do campaign consultants let this kind of thing happen to their clients?

This campaign has been a comedy of never-ending errors.   Putting signs up in violation of county ordinances.  Putting up signs that don’t have the campaign finance disclosures required by Virginia elections laws.  Sending out employees to take down and destroy opponents signs.  Neglecting deadlines for critical election events.  Having supporters send out emails encouraging Democrats to attend a Republican nominating event that say that Republican Party officials “harass” people.  I can understand a first-time candidate making dumb mistakes, but the purpose of paying campaign consultants thousands of dollars that are quite hard to raise is to prevent all this from happening.

As I left, the debacle of not filing on time for the Mass Meeting was breaking on the DerechoThe Sheriff and Virginia Virtucon and Scott Jacobs was still wondering what the hell to do.  Another blown opportunity, as once again he’s not out in front about a story regarding his campaign.  I feel for the guy.  Admirably, he was owning up to the mistake and not blaming his consultants.

Perhaps he should.

There’s a constant refrain in Virginia politics that we need better consultants on the Republican and conservative side, and that we lose too many winnable elections to Democrats because our campaigns aren’t getting good advice and making too many mistakes.  Yes, the pay is meager, work is sporadic, and it’s hard to establish a stable of capable campaign professionals on our side because the good ones are eventually going to find work that can employ them year round at salaries that someone could actually survive on.  Democrats seem to find ways to employ their campaign pros year-round, but that solution has apparently eluded Republicans.

In the meantime, perhaps we can weed out some of the chaff.  It is utterly inexcusable to let your candidate wander about completely lost when his campaign is collapsing around him, quite obviously berift of even a contingency plan.  I might not have ever been a hot Jacobs supporter, but I am appalled at what Bull Run Strategies has done to this guy, who with the right help might have the potential to be a good public servant someday.  Through their incompetence and neglect they’ve just trashed one of the few people with the courage to step up and be a Republican candidate for office, and I pray no one who might think of doing so in the future should ever get hoodwinked into funding the continued existence of this political consulting clown show.

If you’re thinking of running for office, these are not the guys you want on your team.   I’m actually alienating myself from potential clients in saying this, but I hope the financial consequences to me are outweighed by having better candidates and campaigns in the future, ones that I’ll be happy to work with with a clear conscience.

UPDATE:  InsideNova reports that PWCRC Chairman Bill Card confirms that the Jacobs campaign tried to hand deliver the documents on the 25th, a day after the postmark deadline and confirming what I’d heard from Scott Jacobs today.  What consultant that intends to stay in business can’t manage to keep track of a filing deadline?

UPDATE 2: Jacobs sent out a press release the day after this broke announcing he was now an independent candidate.  Apparently Bull Run Strategies desperately needed this increasingly ridiculous campaign to continue so they could get paid, no matter how much that costs Scott Jacobs all of his future political viability.  If you ever needed an example of a consultant putting their interests ahead of their client’s, this is the perfect example.

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  1. Anonymous said on 29 Sep 2014 at 3:14 pm:
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    I think there are more problems for us than just the consultants. It is being reported that Jacobs was disqualified because his form and fee were delivered on time by hand instead of being mailed and postmarked. Jacobs is a tool but if that is the reason he was disqualified it really sounds like a pretext and that the fix was in against him by the credentials group. I think that might have been a big mistake. Jeanine was going to stomp him in a mass meeting. Now he can run as an independent where all that developer money can make a difference in turning out people including independents and Democrats who would not have come to a Republican mass meeting. I have a bad feeling about this.

  2. The Derecho said on 29 Sep 2014 at 3:22 pm:
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    I agree with Greg, apart from the problem of finding “quality” candidates, we can legitimately lay a lot of blame at the feet of subpar consultants. You can look up the road a few miles for a perfect example of campaign implosion, see Senate Campaign of Stirrup, John.

  3. Freddie said on 29 Sep 2014 at 3:25 pm:
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    If the call says it needs to be mailed, then you should mail it. Do what the call says to do. That is something any experienced constultant would know. And most of adults understand that too.

  4. G Man said on 29 Sep 2014 at 3:35 pm:
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    Filing for the Nomination for Brentsville District Supervisor

    Any person who desires to seek the Republican nomination for the Brentville District Supervisor, Prince William County, VA ***must*** submit a written statement to that effect, along with a non-refundable filing fee of $895.00 (Eight Hundred ninety five dollars and no cents), to the Temporary Nominations Committee, at Prince William County Republican Committee, Attn: Nominations, P.O. Box 1955, Manassas, VA 20108-0806, postmarked on or before September 24th, 2014.

    How can you have a postmarked nomination if you deliver it by hand? You can’t. There is no pretext. Jacobs didn’t follow the requirements. A postmarked nomination protects both the submitter and the Republican Party if there are any questions as to whether it was submitted on time. That is the purpose of the requirement. Delivering by hand provides no such independent documentation of the nomination is being submitted on time.

  5. Winston1 said on 29 Sep 2014 at 5:10 pm:
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    About half the time I don’t agree with Greg. That could be because I am socially liberal andd fiscally conservative. As soon as the religious right runis a candidate I am out. However, IMO he is dead right on this (no pun about “right” intended). If you hire a consultant a reasonable person would assume that they take care of the housekeeping like fees and forms even if they give you campaign advice that sinks you. When something like this happens you own up, regroup and plan for the future. It’s almost like this bunch was paid to launch the torpedo.

  6. Anonymous said on 29 Sep 2014 at 5:15 pm:
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    They are right now trying to destroy one of the best candidates ever recruited in PWC to try to make him run for a much more expensive race instead of the entry-level one that wouldn’t be something where the candidate would even have political consultants. By telling this guy to run for State Senate instead of Supervisor they’re setting this new face to run a campaign he’s not ready for and probably wouldn’t win instead of one where he takes out a terrible incumbent and has a chance to really make a name for himself.

    If DJ Jordan doesn’t run for Coles District Supervisor and never establishes himself you’ll know who to blame. If we end up with Marty Nohe getting yet another term on the BOCS and then using that to run for higher office where he can increase taxes on even more people you’ll be able to thank Bull Run Strategies.

    If there’s any way they can make money while screwing up a campaign for a client, they can’t hold themselves back. They’ll bleed you dry and dump your political corpse in the gutter as they laugh all the way to the bank.

  7. Greg L said on 29 Sep 2014 at 5:16 pm:
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    My understanding is that the form and application fee were delivered on the 25th.

  8. Anonymous said on 29 Sep 2014 at 7:19 pm:
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    And THAT’S why the official call only allowed for filings to be mailed — so there would be a postmark and therefore a definitive, government-approved verification.

  9. Anonymous said on 29 Sep 2014 at 8:28 pm:
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    Greg L @ 5:16. I don’t think so Greg. I was told everything was delivered by the deadline. What if Jacobs had mailed it and the post office lost it? Then he would be out of luck right? How can you disqualify someone for hand delivering something on time rather than trusting it to the mail? I’ve never heard of something like that. By the way who accepted his hand delivery? Shouldn’t they have indicated that hand delivery was unacceptable. Are the names of the credentials committee public. This smells really bad.

  10. Observer said on 29 Sep 2014 at 9:01 pm:
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    On the other hand, the Republican Party avoided looking like fools conducting a nomination process that is for sale to the highest bidder. If Jacobs doesn’t drop out with grace and throw his support and resources behind Lawson, he was never a Republican to begin with.

    The larger lesson is just how far developers will go to in order to get their way. Who else are they buying? That cloud won’t go away. A wider investigation is called for here. The could haunt our Chairman and a couple of Supervisors in 2015. Now we know just how dirty this game really is.

  11. Greg L said on 29 Sep 2014 at 9:21 pm:
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    Anon, let me clarify a couple things.

    Scott is aware he failed to meet the requirements. He told me himself today, in person. If there was some rational reason to believe there’s a contest here he would have certainly made it to me as he knows who I am and about this blog. He’s being darned honorable here and owning up to the screw up, which is to be commended. Gives me some hope this guy could have a future.

    As far as failing to file, it’s not unprecedented. That precise situation happened just as I was taking over this blog from the original Black Velvet Bruce Lee, it’s just that Jacobs is being much more of a class act than the first guy had within him at the time, although I understand he’s grown as well. Good things come out of this kind of stuff, believe it or not.

    Lastly, it’s the nominations committee that handles this. They voted 3-0 on Sunday afternoon on their report. There’s no contest on that report at this time, and based on what I heard today, there won’t be. The chairman on that committee is utterly solid - an attorney who frequently argues cases before the Supreme Court, an expert on the Party Plan, a frequent convention parliamentarian, and absolutely the last guy I’d want to butt heads with on a procedural challenge. That nominations committee report is going to be utterly bulletproof. Anyone trying to file an appeal based on their actions is going to lose, and I’d wager big dollars I can’t afford to gamble on something like that any day.

  12. Citizen B said on 29 Sep 2014 at 9:47 pm:
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    It seems to me that it was a ploy to get out of the Republican contest all together and run against Lawson as an Independent candidate. Whether he felt he couldn’t win the nomination vote or his financial backers want more time to throw more funding at his bid, it still allows him to be in the bigger contest. Unfortunately, he is already breaking a promise, as he said he would bow out if he didn’t get the nominating vote. Lawson made the same agreement.

  13. kg said on 30 Sep 2014 at 8:39 am:
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    I don’t see how this is owning up to it:

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 30, 2014


    Jacobs: “Every voter deserves a choice in a fair, open election.”

    Nokesville, VA — In a closed-door meeting last weekend, three party insiders on the nominating committee voted to stop Scott Jacobs, a candidate for Brentsville District Supervisor and Nokesville native, from participating in the party’s nomination process. This move by party insiders cleared the pathway for their friend and activist, Jeanine Lawson, to become the Republican nominee despite the widespread support for Scott Jacobs in the Brentsville District.

    As a result of the decision, Jacobs, who is being endorsed by over 100 local small businesses and the Prince William Association of Realtors, has announced that he will continue his campaign as an Independent candidate.

    In a statement, Scott Jacobs wrote:

    “What they’ve told Republican voters is, ‘You don’t deserve to pick your candidates – we do.”

    “I believe every voter deserves a choice in a fair, open election. I believe in democracy and my commitment to serve the citizens of Brentsville has never been stronger. That is why I’m going to give voters the choice that they deserve and that they are being denied.”

    “This election isn’t about party allegiances; it is about which candidate can best facilitate the changes necessary to bring high-paying, professional jobs to the district as well as a higher quality of life for all. That is why over 100 local businesses have announced their support for my campaign, and why more are doing so every day, they know that I can get the job done.”

    “During this past year, I have enjoyed the opportunity to meet with many people who believe we can build a stronger local economy, stronger schools, and stronger families right here in the Brentsville District. These citizens deserve a leader who will put it all on the line. Now voters will have a chance to cast their votes at the ballot box, fair and square. I look forward to finishing the race I started as I look forward to the future, encouraged by citizens who want to build a welcoming district full of economic opportunity and a prospering community for all.”

    “That’s why I’m proud to keep fighting for a stronger Brentsville and will continue my campaign for Brentsville District Supervisor as an Independent candidate this December.”

  14. Cromagnum said on 2 Oct 2014 at 12:29 am:
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    The internet is a cool thing

    I’m kinda thinking the Consultant was tearing down the Lawson signs.

    Or is it just a similar picture, with a resemblance?


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