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Friday, March 23, 2012

Comments on the Linda McMahon Convention Buying article by NewsTimes

"Down 10 points to Susan Bysiewicz?
And destroyed in the Press because I'm buying Delegates?
Where's my Daniel Powter CD?... I had a bad day..."

Nine days ago, Linda McMahon and her campaign henchmen were smugly celebrating their well-orchestrated victory over advocates of the Convention Ethics Resolutions at the March 13th State Central Meeting.  Reports to The King were that McMahon campaign workers and surrogates were so insufferably pleased with themselves that they went out to a bar for drinks to celebrate; loudly mocking everyone who spoke in favor of CTGOP Convention Ethics and Transparency.  It's true, McMahon, with a wink and a nod from Chairman Labriola, won the day as The King reported last week.

It's a funny thing about politics though.  Some campaign strategies (like McMahon's assault on the Ethic Resolutions) might on the surface appear to be a great victory, but in reality has caused McMahon enormous collateral damage to her reputation as a candidate, and hindered her overall campaign strategy; clearly, not making it worth the effort.

It's clear to nearly everyone in the business that one of the things the McMahon campaign does best is ... miscalculate (underestimating their foes might be a close second).  Everything McMahon has done in 2010 or in this year's rebooted image of herself has been both a tactical and strategic failure. Everything from small-time Living Room visits to Delegate Buying has had the reverse, detrimental, impact intended - particularly if you consider the value for dollar spent. Linda's husband, Vince, was smart to insist on a spending cap for this year's one-way trip to nowhere.  Note to Linda: Grassroots campaigning, door to door doesn't work for multi-millionaires.  Tom Scott's advice was wrong. 

Just like the strategies above, this miscalculation is no different.  The McMahon people flanked by CTGOP insiders foolishly thought that once the troublemakers were beat back through personal malicious threats and attacks, and the Resolutions shot down by their paid surrogates that this would be the last of it, and the controversy would simply dissipate into thin air. Further, they thought The Press wouldn't take any interest in internal Party dispute over Convention Rules and Transparency, or the crazed connection between GOP Party Leaders, payoffs, and candidates.  Again, they were wrong.

While The Hartford Courant failed it's readership to be the Newspaper of Record and print the story that they were intimately familiar with, it occurred to CTGOP Party Reformists that there were other news outlets to choose from that had both the bandwidth and courage to report such a big story.  And if you can't see the relevance of delegate buys, intimidation, and corruption in Republican State Politics, and its effect on a U.S. Senate Race, then I can't help you.  I can't help The Hartford Courant's Editorial Board which seemingly values the promise of candidate print ads over delivering news to its customers.  And you wonder why Newspaper readership is down?

If you haven't seen it by now, NewsTimes columnist Neil Vigdor has done a great job capturing the main points of the story, fairly presented from all points of view.  His piece entitled, "CT GOP scuttles new disclosure rules for delegates" captures the essence of the matter - corruption, impropriety,  and the CTGOPs stubborn unwillingness to deal with it's problems.  Since Mr. Vigdor has limited space - unlike The King, I thought I would provide a bit more color to the story so that everyone can have a complete picture.  So you might want to grab a Snickers Bar to get you through the next several hours of reading - just kidding.

In the article, Chris Shays was quoted as saying, "McMahon is trying to buy votes and she's one of the reasons I got into this race." "Last election, I thought, what is my party thinking? She literally bought the convention. And she lost miserably in the general election and brought all the statewide candidates down with her, and she's back at it."
No one will wonder," Shays continued. "I'm not going to be silent about this stuff. The Republican Party I know and have always believed in cares about morals and ethics.
"I want the party that cares about morals and ethics."

Well, Bravo Mr. Shays.  It has been a very, very long time since we've heard a Connecticut Republican Party Candidate or Connecticut Republican Politician stand-up and say something so accurate, articulate, and forthright about the state of things in our Party.  When The King's View went online in 1999 (starting as a column), it was for the purpose of advocating for Republican positions and candidates as a lowly conservative voice in the vast forest of Democratic giants.  But after a while, after witnessing a never-ending strategy of self-sabotage ,and continuous defeat due in part to a wave of crooked Party insiders trying to make a buck for themselves, it became abundantly clear that until the CTGOP could clean up its own act, that winning - on any real scale -  was an impossible task. Thus, like Congressman Shays, we start apart from many of our friends lost in the corruption, who'd rather coddle each other's egos (and wallets) rather than elect ethical Republicans to office.

Many of my allies have taken issue with me over my support of Mr. Shays because a few of his positions are more progressive then they like.  So be it!  I remind them that I'm not looking for a carbon copy candidate who can't think for himself, and takes orders from Washington Party hacks spewing the same old classic lines from the 80s Reagan's Doctrine.  Many people seem to have forgotten that while some principles do in fact remain the same (such as those expoused by Edmund Burke, and Adam Smith), the Earth spins on its axis 24/7 and thus positions, policies, and challenges are constantly changing to reflect a new reality.  Of all the candidates in this race, Mr. Shays has the intelligence to recognize the difference between ideology and pragmatism. 

Ethics is a key component to Mr. Shays' character which is why he can stand tall when discussing the issue of CTGOP Corruption, and pay-offs.  With Mr. Shays, I also needn't worry about opposing interests drudging up decades and decades of endless scandals about steroids, drugs, deaths and injuries in the workplace, sexual harassment charges, exporting violence to children, and 101 other real distractions from my Republican Candidate's position platform.  Mr. Shays is his own man, who stands alone and can handle the heat of policy differences.   On the other hand, Ms. McMahon won't even comment on the matter of her Convention Buying or RTC Donations simply because she can't

In fact, how many times has the Connecticut Media seen the same thing over and over when they ask the McMahon Camp for a comment?  Do they get a real live person who interacts with them on a professional level?  No. Instead they get hired-robot Erin Issac who reads a carefully prepared statement off a 3x5 index card which never addresses the question at hand, and instead deflects reporters to a website outlining a so-called plan which in all likelihood was prepared by another set of hired political consultants, far and away from the candidate herself.  The campaign could save itself a bundle, and replace Issac with an answering machine: "Press one for Linda's Website, Press two to disconnect. Good-Bye."

The whole thing illustrates exactly what the public and press would be up against if God-forbid, Linda McMahon ever became U.S. Senator.  Cold, bland, and machine-like. It would easier to be granted entry to the James Forrestal Nuclear Weapons Headquarters than it would to ever meet with Senator Linda McMahon.  Well, at least we won't see her making fun of President Obama using a teleprompter any time soon.   For someone who constantly makes fun of career politicians, Linda McMahon certainly has the act down pat

For the record, Mr. Shays is just the opposite. He looks you straight in the eye, and answers your question directly.  And he doesn't answer it the way you want to hear it answered, he gives you his honest position on the matter whether you agree with him or not.  It's called, thinking on your feet, and out the box, and it doesn't require carefully prepared scripts, or handlers whispering advice in his ear.  And its nice to have a conversation with someone like Mr. Shays who actually knows what he's talking about.  Imagine if Connecticut had a Senator like that?


I try awfully hard to give Chairman Jerry Labriola, Jr. the benefit of the doubt.  I get it that he's been handed a raided bank account, a poor hand to play, and has to deal with a State Central Committee that more closely resembles Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (except in this case there are a hellava lot more than 40 thieves for him to contend with) - than people looking to pull up their sleeves and give him a hand. In politics, nothing moves unless its pushed.  At CT Republican State Central nothing moves unless it's lit on fire or tied to cash payout. 

It's true that Jerry allowed the Sub-Committee to form and take up the issue of correcting the obvious improprieties. He also selected a Sub-Committee of individuals who believed that changes were necessary (when he could have selected a group to drive it into the ground).  Former Chairman Chris Healy would have squashed any attempt to bring the Resolutions forward before they were even inked to paper.  So for that we should be somewhat grateful.  However, real leadership isn't sitting in a tower of neutrality and acting like a disinterested party while events unfold around you.  And it isn't being all things to all people in hopes of currying favor to segments of the crowd, or delegating away your authority to act.  Leadership is having the courage to stand out front, take the issue by the horns, and carry the mantle forward when called upon to do so.

When I read Jerry Labriola's quotes in the article, I was a little more than disappointed.  "The members have spoken and we will now turn to the important matters at hand, like raising money and recruiting great candidates."  As if this wasn't important. And as if suddenly everything is hunky-dory and we can just go back to doing whatever the hell we were doing before  - like taking payments for votes, allowing people to manipulate the process, and losing elections in grand fashion because of it.  And of course there is the money.  It's always about the money, never policy, integrity, or doing the right thing.  Nope.  Raising money.  I was truly pissed after reading our Chairman's comments in the article.  Well good luck raising money after May.  I'm sure people are always willing to drop a few grand on a hopeless cause.

Maybe, we should have
gone with this Jerry
instead. Although there
are a lot of similarities

If that quote didn't turn me red, the next line surely did:  Labriola said, "The delegates to our conventions must now put aside distractions and use their best judgment to nominate Republicans with the greatest chance of electability this fall." Translation: Bringing integrity to the process is just a distraction. Everyone must now suck it up and play their role, and take it (insert expletive phrase of your choice) like man.  Labriola must have been watching The Wizard of Oz when speaking to Mr. Vigdor, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."  Jerry, for Godsakes, is that the best you have to offer while the McMahon Camp buys delegates and steals the Convention?  You want everyone else to simply forget about it? 

At the least, Chairman Labriola should have lamented the fact that the Rules didn't pass.  Such an expression would have at least secured his credibility with his supporters.

This Convention is YOUR legacy.  So what if the other four Candidates - Shays, Westby, Dumaj, and Hill - all who believed that you would really do something to end corruption -  decided to skip the rigged State Convention, and simply headed out to collect signatures.  Why should they just play their scripted parts in Linda's Pep Rally Show, and allow you, and Linda's paid delegates to humiliate them on the Convention Floor? Why should they wait until May 18th to watch the shananigans unfold when they can skip it and legally start collecting signatures on May 1.

Look, I do like Jerry on the whole (I don't care if the feeling is mutual or not).  But this wasn't his best performance as chief of the CTGOP.  And I guarantee that he will likely always remember the 42-10 vote forever because it could wind up plaguing him all the way to November 6th if the Quinnipiac Poll Numbers continue to show true.  To take a quote from those on the other side of the fence, Silence is Acceptance.  The failure to stand up, lead and act - spoke volumes.  Sometimes you have to stick your neck out and fight.  Now you can't even say, "I tried."  No!  You didn't sweep it under the rug on March 13, but you're trying to do that now.  And this is all very sad.  The Rules Committee is your last opportunity to summon the courage to stand for truth and integrity.

I know I seem to come off rather harsh on the Chairman. Trust me, we understand that Jerry does a lot of good for the Party.  We know he works his tail off to raise funds and support candidates at every level, and has sacrificed significant personal time away from his family.  But this episode was particularly disappointing and we are all left with the fallout.  He learned the hard way just how polluted his SSC truly is, he couldn't have predicted the 42-10 slaughter.  He will never be able to look at State Central the same way again.

I was also slightly disappointed in Mike Vitali who I've praised repeatedly for doing a remarkable job as Chairman of the Sub-Committee.  But Vitali's use of the word "perceived" when describing the problem of lack of integrity seemed to be a bit disingenuous.  Either there is a problem or their isn't one.  Either the 2010 Convention was a last minute fire-sale on delegate votes or it wasn't.  Well, it was. I saw if first hand. Is State Central in the business of setting up a Sub-Committee to address "perceived problems" or real ones?  Whether intended or not, people now think you where placed in this role to make it look like the Party gave it a good old college try, followed by a carefully scripted outcome.  And you wonder why there is so much distrust between the GOP Party Faithful and its so-called Representatives.  Perceived, my arse.  What are we to perceive now?  Mr. Vitali, you had the moral high ground, why surrender it?

Again, we need to give credit where it's due - the folks on the Sub-Committee worked their hearts out to make a positive difference. I want to be clear that these people deserve gold stars for their effort.  Republican voters should be happy that there are at least a few people who are willing to do the right thing on their behalf.


One point that was missed in Mr. Vigdor's story (and also missed by The King in my previous piece) was that U.S. Senate Candidate Kie Westby, who is also a State Central Member, cast a vote in favor of The Resolutions on March 13. We appreciate Mr. Westby's courageous act to stand with the Reformers to improve our Party's reputation by doing more than giving lip-service to the notion.


In typical fashion, the McMahon Campaign manufactured at least one major lie worth repeating to highlight the desperate state of their retreat.  According to the article, McMahon's Camp (unidentified) claimed that some Republicans who are now delegates sought employment with the McMahon Campaign are now on the payroll of Chris Shays.  The King calls your bluff. We would love to see a list of those names, and moreover - we want to know if McMahon's campaign will follow the act of transparency set by Chris Shays by requiring paid employees, delegates, and vendors to wear identification badges as the Convention Sub-Committee originally sought?  And don't forget to include all of the names of relatives of State Central members also on your payroll.


What also didn't figure into the article is that on one hand Linda's campaign said that it was up to State Central Members to formulate its own rules and you weren't interested in interfering in that discussion, yet all the while - Tom Scott was calling and badgering everyone including CTGOP brass to put a stop to The Resolution vote.  The level of dishonesty coming out of the McMahon Campaign is at an all time high.  But perhaps this week's Quinnipiac Poll which showed Linda McMahon losing to Susan Bysiewicz by 10 points might have made them more cranky than usual.
Tom "Yosemite" Scott became down-right
ornery over the notion of having to wear badges 


One the best lines in the articles comes from Joe Visconti who said, "Integrity was Sent to the Gallows."  Nothing could be truer than that.  What's important to realize is that Reformers like Visconti aren't responsible for this inter-party crisis, quite the contrary - people like Joe are working hard to avoid another election cycle of disaster.   This is shaping up to be 2010 all over again, and if we aren't careful, the results could be much worse than last time because the impact of McMahon's Dark Cloud could resonate all the way down to Republican State Races as well.   Democrats who I know are counting on just that.  They see a perfect storm in the making with McMahon atop of the ticket.  And with Good Ole Tom Foley waiting in the wings, Democrats couldn't ask for more.


Reading the comments by Edward Dadakis, a State Central Member from Greenwich, was a good reminder of the kind of blinders that State Central Member wear during meetings.  I would love to hear how wearing a badge to signify your paid allegiance to a campaign, or having a campaign supply a list of delegates and vendors on their payroll is so unwieldy and difficult to enforce.  You got to be kidding, right?  Are we so unscrupulous and unwieldy that our own people won't follow the rules?  They seemed to be pretty good at throwing Rob Simmons staff members off the Convention Floor in 2010, or didn't you recollect that, Ed?

While Ed tunes up his memory on that point let's debunk another misconception of his.  If Dadakis really sees wearing a badge identifying that he's a paid delegate as a "scarlet letter" than that's unique problem.  Most of the people you talk with agree that its more absurd to not have paid delegate wear identification on the floor of the Convention, as you would if you were a Lobbyist wandering the State Capitol.  So, what's really a bigger issue?  Wearing a so-called scarlet letter, or being dishonest about your paid association to a candidate?  As for payoffs and scandals - oh, its fine by Dadakis - hell, let boys be boys - everyone wheels and deals [and lies and cheats] - it's just the way it is.  Well, some of us appeal to a higher standard.


Senate Candidate Brian K. Hill, who this author is still suspect of, had the perfect point about the Resolutions: "If you don't have anything to hide, there's nothing wrong with transparency."  Spot on.  And that's the question - how do you get around the transparency, and the third party transaction from guys like Pat Sullivan who serve as Linda McMahon's ATM service? 


The biggest surprise in the article came from Justin Bernier, who as most people are aware, worked for Linda McMahon in 2010 after his unsuccessful Congressional Bid.  Quoting Hartford Legend Mark Twain, Bernier said, "Mark Twain said that it's impossible to convince a man of something if his paycheck depends on him believing the opposite,"  "Every Republican in Connecticut has a right to know which convention delegates are getting paychecks from which candidates. We need to be the party of truth and transparency -- not the party of payoffs."  

We need to be the Party of Truth and Transparency - not the party of payoffs.

Did you read that Chairman Labriola? Justin Bernier may not be The King's favorite subject these days, but he certainly has promise.  Justin's quote for some reason reminds me of Benjamin Franklin's quote: "When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic."  Did Mr. Franklin ever imagine that the darkness of political corruption would seep down as low as Connecticut's Republican State Central?  Perhaps not, but the same principle applies.


Sadly absent from Mr. Vigdor's article were comments about Lisa Wilson-Foley (phony) participation in the Pay-to-Play scandal.  Foley is equally as guilty as Linda McMahon in her quest to influence CT-05 delegate votes via RTC donations and other unmentioned rewards.  It's good that Kevin Rennie pointed out in his column that the majority of Foley's Healthcare business is subsidized by the Federal Government.  She skims from the Fed and in turn uses that money to pay RTCs for delegate votes in order to seek election.  Isn't Lisa's America a wonderful place or what?

As for Lou DeLuca and his $140,000 dollars worth of T-Shirt sales, well all I can say that its no wonder why he's listed on Linda McMahon's website as having endorsed her.  DeLuca's comment that his support for McMahon predated the T-Shirt deal - yeah, well its funny how that all worked out just right for ya' Lou, isn't it?  I mean for God-sakes, you've been caught red-handed with your hand in the cookie jar, and crumbs down the front of your (t)shirt. At least be a man about it and tell the truth.  Thank God for people like Sean Murphy who are at least willing to publicly stand up and challenge blatant corruption.

Taking a page from Mr. Dadakis above "every body's doing it", DeLuca tries to detract from his guilt by implying that Mr. Murphy has probably somehow and at sometime been bought by others  - a weak argument at best.  Anyone who knows Mr. Murphy knows that he might be as outspoken as The King, but would never stoop to the level of the DeLuca's of the world - who value personal profit over principle every time.  Oh, and DeLuca has appointed himself a delegate to the Convention, he'll be the one pushing a hotdog stand up and down the asiles selling t-shirts at $20 bucks a pop.


This week was a bad week for Linda McMahon and friends.  And perhaps an even worse week for the CT GOP as the headlines of corruption and delegate buying splashed across the front page of ctcapitolreport in 24 font for nearly 14 hours straight.  The image of our State Chairman with a cigar sticking out of his mouth and a brandy in his hand added a hint of arrogance to an already damaging story.

Democrats saw from the Quinnipiac Poll results, that our Republican Leaderships anointed candidate Linda McMahon trailed 15 points behind their likely candidate - Chris Murphy, and 10 points behind their lady-in-waiting Susan Bysiewicz, all the while and without having to lift a finger, Republican leaders were putting the screws to the GOPs only competitive option (Chris Shays) of winning the seat.  If someone really wanted to go hog wild, they could also make the case that Linda McMahon is a Democratic Operative, working behind the scenes to ensure an easy win for Democrats in November. 

But seriously - CTGOP RTCs and State Central Members are doing a huge injustice to the Republican Party.  On Election Day, Blue Connecticut will likely support President Obama by a fair margin, and if voters look at the next line and see Linda McMahon, they will quickly move to vote for Chris Murphy.  At least with Chris Shays on the line, there would be a moment of pause to reflect on the option, and many Independent voters, and some Democrats would certainly give Mr. Shays a chance.  With McMahon on the line, the rest of the Republican ticket will suffer immeasurably in a year where a candidate like Shays could lift the entire Republican ticket statewide.  Get this through heads - Linda McMahon can't win.

This weekend, we will see Chris Shays on Face the State with Dennis House.  It's a shame that all of this didn't come out before the Face The State taping which would have allowed for a few extra hours for the campaigns to absorb it all - because it would have made for some fantastic television to watch on Sunday morning. Athough I have to say that unlike Mr. Shays, The King wouldn't bet on him winning a rigged State Convention, but his numbers in the polls (versus Linda's) and sudden momentum certainly gives him the edge for a big-time upset win during the Primary.   I fully expect the McMahon campaign will most certainly need to stoop to the level that they did in 2010 when they unfairly Pearl Harbored Rob Simmons on his cloture votes on Cap and Trade and other random votes - there is a lot of concocted conclusions that the McMahon camp will try to manufacture from Mr. Shay's 20 years of public service.  The difference is (and no offense to Mr. Simmons) they'll be in a whole knew ballgame with Mr. Shays.

I personally can't wait to watch Linda McMahon gasping for air when she debates Mr. Shays on the issues given his depth of experience.  If she got beat around by Mr. Richard Blumenthal, who appeared to almost feel sorry for her, just wait until she watches a real statesman like Chris Shays take her apart.  It's going to be classic genius versus idiot match- up.   There's always hope that Linda could do the right thing and quit.  But with what she's invested so far, I just can't see that happening.

Oh, and one final note.  Rumors abound that Linda McMahon is forming a Superpac which is being bundled by some of her old Greenwich buddies - including one who thinks he's going to be our future Governor.  The big thing about the Superpac's power is its ability to hide its donors out of plain sight for a long period of time - permitting them to escape public scrutiny - while it fires its negative campaign attack ads at Chris Shays for a period of several months. Further rumors are that this weapon will be unleashed immediately after the State Convention allowing Linda to allocate her staff and campaign resources toward other, more pleasant campaign apperances.  If Linda McMahon is forming a Superpac, perhaps Chris Shays should form one to - just to keep things semi-equal, or at least interesting.

Linda is constructing a SuperPac
which will be ready just in time for June 1

Have a great weekend!



This original blog entry can be found at
Disclaimer: This entry and others will be modified/updated at a future date. All entries are for the sole purpose of entertainment. This article does not imply endorsement of the candidate mentioned above, nor has this article been solicited for publication by any political candidate, campaign, or PAC.

"Hey Oswald. Another bourbon for me
and a lime-rickey for the lady!"


Elliott said...

AMEN !!!You have summed up the whole disgusting business beautifully.......I will tell you this much, I am confident that Ms.McMahon et al are in for a big surprise come August 14 th.!!
Keep up the good work! It is greatly appreciated by those of us , who like you would like to see the Ct GOP return to the Grand Old Party it used to be ....before the reckless and corrupt leadership of the past several decades!

Anonymous said...

The ethical bar has been placed so low among this generation of leaders I am not surprised by the reaction by State Central. To believe the Republican party will win a senate seat if you throw enough money at it is a farce. Those people who are stuffing their pockets in exchange for a candidate that can actually win are a disgrace. Let's sweep it under the rug and cover it up before the press get's wind of it is totally stupid. All the party yes men and women suffer from blind loyalty.

Anonymous said...

Looks like all the Kings Horses, and All the Kings, men, could not put CT GOP back together again.

Rabid Republican said...

Story that was lost: Jerry Labriola let the State Central Members vote on a subcommittee's work. This may be the first real subcommittee that ever did anything in the history of the CTGOP. Knock Labriola all you want King but he let the public see just what the hell he is dealing with ie Christopher Healey's thieves in waiting. Hope the other candidates follow Shay's lead and sign on for clean conventions.

Rabid Republican