Thursday, October 8, 2020

Pro-Trump GOP Candidates Welcome Endorsement of Indiana First PAC Despite Troubled History

During the past few days, I was emailed two press releases from an organization called Indiana First PAC.  This is the one I received on Saturday:
Indiana First Pac on the Governors race 

With just weeks until election day Indiana First PAC announced its intentions in the Governors race. 

"We don't agree with much that is going on in Indianapolis," PAC Policy Director Blake Snyder said. "I don't see Holcomb standing up for Conservatives.  there has been governmenmt over reach time and time again under this administration.." 

After the state shutdown and the now never ending mask mandate many conservatives have turned on Holcomb and have given their support to Libertarian candidate Donald Rainwater.

 "the issue is that neither candidate is a good candidate, but we have to look at the long term" Snyder said. "We must advance conservative legislation, and keep Indiana red. The Republican Party is good for Indiana in general, though its leadership today is questionable. ."
It raises a red flag that the press release contains a major typo (which any word processing system should have caught) and several grammatical and editing issues.  (Ten total by my count.)  While I am sympathetic to such errors since I certainly make my share of mistakes when blogging (no editor, rushed for time), the press release is SIX sentences long.  Seven, if you count the headline, which alone has two grammatical mistakes.

Then yesterday, I was emailed another press release from First Indiana PAC.

First some context to that press release is in order.  On Wednesday, the Holcomb campaign dropped the results of an internal poll showing that the Governor had a 60-21 lead over his Democratic rival, Wood Myers.  The Libertarian gubernatorial candidate, Rainwater, had just 6%.   This new Indiana First PAC press release (a portion of which I've published below) seems to dismiss the Holcomb publicly-released poll results (although not directly mentioning the 39 point lead) while suggesting Indiana First has inside information about how tight the race actually is:
"We received a call this week by a source inside the GOP who obviously wishes to remain anonymous," Caleb Shumaker said. "in this call it was mentioned that two polls were conducted both showing different outcomes."

One poll according to the source had Eric Holcomb up by +2. and the other had Donald Rainwater up by +2. The information provided did not mention the standing of Democrat Woody Myers or the margin of error. According to some this is no surprise as many are upset with Governor Holcomb's shutdown, and the mask mandate which still has not been lifted across the state.
Before I get accused of being a Holcomb supporter, let me assure readers I am not.  I have a huge problem with Holcomb possibly waiving Amazon's safety fines in an effort to get its second headquarters in Indiana.  I have an even bigger problem with Governor Holcomb threatening journalists who reported on that story.   What Holcomb did is an unforgivable affront to freedom of speech and freedom of press.  No politician who threatens journalists with legal action for writing critical stories will ever get my vote.  Period.

Let me return though to the most recent First Indiana press release.  I am skeptical of the claims, to say the least.  From having worked in campaigns, I know that if the Governor's race is indeed a statistical tie, the last thing the Holcomb campaign would want to do is tell workers and supporters that the Governor has a 39 point lead.  You want them believing the race is a dead heat so they do not take their foot off the gas.

My curiosity about the Indiana First PAC took me to their website, links for which are in the press releases  The home page say that the Indiana First PAC is about "Mobilizing the Trump Coalition at home" and that "We are bringing the Trump agenda home, and fighting everyday to put hardworking Hoosiers first in Washington, D.C. and Indianapolis."  The home page also has links to its most recent 
press release (the one about the poll numbers) and an endorsement for Brownsburg School Board.  You can also "join our team" by providing your email address and make a contribution.   The website appears to have a cookie cutter layout, one focused more on raising money and collecting email addresses than providing information.

The First Indiana PAC is most active on its Facebook page where it regularly posts endorsements of Republicans and occasionally trashes Democrats and GOP candidates who are not Trumpian enough.  In response, several Republican politicians have indicated they "like" First Indiana PAC, including Attorney General candidate Todd Rokita.

This is how First Indiana PAC describes itself on that Facebook page:
Indiana First PAC is the premiere [sic] Pro-Trump Super PAC in Indiana, led by local, veteran Republican campaign staffers. The group aims to target more than half a million Hoosier voters ahead of 2018 in support of Pro-Trump candidates. Indiana First PAC is the ONLY PRO-TRUMP PAC with field staff and boots on the ground in Indiana and the ONLY PRO-TRUMP PAC supporting Pro-Trump candidates up and down the ballot in Indiana. Indiana First PAC is committed to bringing people together and uniting them behind President Donald Trump and likeminded leaders who will fight for his America First agenda.
Since First Indiana PAC is endorsing and raising money to support local, state and national candidates, there should be a statement of organization as well as regular reports filed with the Indiana Secretary of State, the Federal Election Commission and, possible, with local county clerks.  I could not find that First Indiana PAC has filed anything with the Secretary of State or the Federal Election Commission, despite the fact that the PAC has existed since at least 2017.   In the story below, the AP in late 2017 went looking for First Indiana PAC reports that should have been filed with the FEC and came up empty.  Obviously these reports are important not only to show from whom the First Indiana PAC is raising money, but more importantly how the money they raise is being spent.  

On November 28, 2017, the First Indiana PAC announced it was endorsing controversial former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate special election and that it would mobilize volunteers and run digital ads on his behalf.  Moore said he was proud of receiving the group's endorsement.

Within a day though the Moore endorsement when off the rails when it was revealed that Indiana First's "Chairman" Shumaker had been fired by the Mike Braun for Senate Campaign:
An Indiana Republican’s Senate campaign said Wednesday that it has fired an aide affiliated with the white nationalist movement who recently formed a super PAC backing embattled Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Caleb C. Shumaker was a contract employee who gathered ballot petition signatures for Mike Braun, his campaign said in a statement. Social media postings made by Shumaker in October and November show him promoting Braun and making appearances on the candidate’s behalf at GOP events around the state.

“The Braun campaign briefly contracted with Mr. Shumaker to collect signatures for ballot access. Once we became aware of Mr. Shumaker’s past comments and associations, his contract was terminated immediately,” Braun adviser Barney Keller said in a statement. “Mike Braun strongly and unequivocally condemns Mr. Shumaker’s disgusting beliefs and believes they have no place in American politics.”

Reached by phone Wednesday, Shumaker took issue with the campaign’s characterization of his departure at the beginning of the month and said he left for family reasons. He condemned racism and told The Associated Press that he is no longer affiliated with the white nationalist group National Youth Front....

“I’m a conservative. I believe strongly in conservative principles. I’m a person of faith. I believe strongly in Christian conservatism,” said Shumaker, who lives in Evansville, Indiana. “I condemn any form of racism, especially white nationalism. I don’t think America has any room for it.”
Shumaker was then a very young man, perhaps still in college.  I could see how someone his age might be talked into going to a meeting and later regretting it after figuring out the group held racist views.  But Shumaker does not appear to have been a passive spectator to a National Youth Front meeting.  He appears to have been the leader of the organization. The AP article continues:
But racially charged internet postings from 2014 list Shumaker as chairman of National Youth Front, and a YouTube channel listed as belonging to the group bears Shumaker’s name.

“There has been a lack of nationalist spirit in our youth, a lack of pride for ourselves and our people. If we are to survive we must embrace its ideals with a zealousness,” a December 2014 posting attributed to Shumaker states. “It is imperative to reject socialist and antiwhite agendas. To refute and shame feminist ideologies that cripple the integrity and pride of a man and pit our sexes against each other.”

Shumaker said the posting, which bears a picture of him, was falsely attributed to him.
(For the record, this column does not refer to Moore as an alleged "pedophile" since that term technically means someone attracted to pre-pubescent adolescents, defined as someone 13 years of age or younger.  Moore is accused of conduct which suggests he is an "ephebophile," someone who has a sexual attraction to post-pubescent adolescents, i.e. older teenagers.  If said urges are acted upon, the former is always illegal while the latter may be illegal depending on the age and the laws of that particular state.  The former usually carries much harsher penalties than the latter.  However, both can land the person, if convicted, on a sex offender list.  Plus it's more than a little creepy for a 30 year old to be hanging out at the mall trying to pick up 16 and 17 year old girls, even if it is not technically illegal in the state of Alabama where the age of consent is 16.)

OOP's short takes:
  • On October 8, 2016, Hillary Clinton had a 4.6 point national lead in the polls.  Exactly four years later, Joe Biden's lead is 9.7 points.  
  • A Carmel friend of mine has alerted me to the fact that long-time State representative Jerry Torr is now being slammed in direct mail pieces by the Democrats.  He joins Representative Donna Schaibley as Hamilton County Republicans who were in safe seats just four years ago that are now top targets of the Democrats.
  • I would not be surprised if the Democrats pick up 10 seats in the Indiana House.  That though will still leave the GOP with a decent size majority of 57 seats.  The good news for Republicans is that the majority will allow the party to draw the maps to be used for the next ten years.  The bad news for Republicans though is that if Democrats start winning suburbs, drawing a favorable map might prove challenging.   The goal is to draw a large number of expected GOP districts with 60-40 margin, for example, while concentrating the Democratic vote in fewer districts in Democrats win overwhelmingly, say 80-20, for example.  If the GOP districts have to be cut down to 55% to get the desired partisan advantage in a chamber, there is a possibility that shifting demographics and voters moving could lead to major Republican losses a few elections down the road.  A good example of that happening is with the Indianapolis city council map, drawn by Republicans, which has produced a 20-5 Democratic majority in Marion County. 
  • News just now breaking is that six members of a right-wing militia group have been charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.  This is just going to get worse.

No comments: