If you didn't check in on BlueOregon over the holiday weekend, you missed a big story. In fact, my initial post about it generated over 270 comments - blowing away BlueOregon's previous record of 211.
If you're so inclined, you can dive into all the details on my two earlier posts...
- Fake endorsement backfires on Novick campaign operative
- On Saturday night, Liz Kimmerly continues to pretend she doesn't work for Novick
...or, here's a brief recap:
On Tuesday, the Merkley campaign got an email inviting Jeff Merkley to an endorsement meeting this Saturday for the Portland chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America.
Four days notice is pretty tight for an endorsement meeting, but that was only the first red flag.
The email was sent by the "State Coordinator" of the Progressive Democrats of America.... Liz Kimmerly. Who is Liz Kimmerly? She's a senior staffer for the Novick for Senate campaign.
That's right: The endorsement process by which the PDA would endorse a U.S. Senate candidate is being organized by the staff of one of the candidates.
Fortunately, after I called Tim Carpenter - the PDA's national executive director - he stepped in and stopped the process. Curiously, Carpenter told me that the Portland chapter had only been created "48 hours ago" -- which contradicts what Liz Kimmerly told the Eugene Register-Guard (that the chapter had been created a month ago.) I'm not sure what the facts are there, or even if there's a conflict (maybe the paperwork was started a month ago and completed last week?)
It doesn't really matter - the bottom line is that Kimmerly created the Portland chapter and then tried to hold an endorsement vote before the group had held its first organizational meeting... y'know, the usual stuff: setting bylaws, picking officers, arranging a regular meeting time, etc.
That smacks of a sham endorsement by a shotgun chapter to me. Especially since this much is undisputed: Liz Kimmerly didn't follow two of the national endorsement rules specifically designed to prevent sham endorsements by shotgun chapters -- #1, 30-days notice to members of an endorsement meeting; and #2, a written questionnaire to the candidates in advance of the endorsement meeting.
Now, I'm a Merkley partisan, that's for sure. And a casual observer might easily dismiss this as intra-campaign sniping. But a read through the 270+ comments on my initial post reveals LOTS of usually solid Novick supporters raising big concerns. Here's a sample (with my bolds)...
Kristin Teigen (who wrote glowingly of Steve here):
I heart, heart, heart Steve Novick, would hope that someone that smart could be my senator someday. Would you do some very loyal Novick supporters (aka, me) a favor and let us know your side of the story? Please?
[Later:] OK -- so I've been a strong Novick supporter, I've volunteered, I'm on all of the lists, even wrote a pro-Novick post for this blog, but I REALLY, REALLY wish they would respond to what's going on here, beyond what Jake has done. I ask the following questions because I want to still believe in the campaign.
Why did Liz not disclose her alliance? Why has she yet to respond, considering the issue is being covered now on several blogs? Why did Steve allow her to continue without disclosure? Why did this whole issue go seemingly unaddressed at the PDA meeting? ...
So, again, please, Novick campaign, coming from someone who has been a true blue supporter, and coming from a place of great respect, could you all take a minute and answer some of these questions? I want to stop (I say so hopefully) worrying.
The question is not only whether or not an endorsement occurred. It also is whether Liz K tried to hijack an endorsement process in favor of her candidate. There are a lot of circumstances that make it look as if she might have. And yes that is unethical if it happened, both in terms of the campaigns, and in terms of Liz Ks duties to PDA. If she did this it would be a significant betrayal of PDA. Given her apparent strong ties to them predating Novick involvement, that might suggest a reason to think she wouldn't do it.
[Later:] I think the PDA people need to look at this situation, because if Liz Kimmerly is not being open about her affiliations, it has the potential to be damaging to an organization that we should all want to function for the long haul and not only in relation to this one primary.
[Later:] I've been a Novick supporter though not as much as Kristin -- no volunteering, just a little money. But this bugs the heck out of me and if his campaign doesn't get its act together to give us some answers, let go Liz Kimmerly or tell us why they're not, and get Kimmerly to step down from her PDA role whatever else they do in order to help repair the damage she & now others including Novick have done to the organization, I won't be sending in my mites anymore.
this PDA/Novick thing sucks bigtime because i support both. it sucks because i think Steve is too smart to let this kind of thing happens. it doesn't matter if Liz is trying to cheat or not; it's the appearance of impropriety that is so deadly in politics. it's what a politician or campaign appears to be doing that hurts. even if Steve honestly thought this was a minor tempest, it was pure dumb of Liz to put him in that position, and even dumber of them both to let it slide. it's not because PDA is a major organization; it's not, not around here. but it's fuel for Smith in the general. and it's just bad practice. if Steve wants to prove he's superior to Smith -- to the voters, not to me -- he can't have this kind of nonsense going on. shit, the bastards can take a man's honorable service in Vietnam and turn it into cowardice and treason. it don't take much, and this is too much.
The behaviors alleged and described by Kari, if they can truly be attributed to Liz, are troubling. No question about that. ...
This is what I know: Steve and Jake are both very honorable men of great integrity and decency (as Jeff Merkley appears to be - I just don't know him as well). I am confident that neither of them would tolerate or condone behavior like that alleged here IF IT HAD ACTUALLY OCCURRED THE WAY KARI DESCRIBED IT. Because they are both caring and humane guys, though, and because Liz is someone they have known and trusted, it is entirely reasonable for them to take more than 24 hours over a holiday weekend to investigate the matter themselves, figure out as best they can what actually happened, and then, based on what they learn, decide what to do. In fact, it would be unreasonable for them to do otherwise.
It's not just Merkley's supporters who are bothered by Liz Kimmerly's actions. A bunch of Steve Novick supporters are asking questions and waiting for answers, too.