Today the Washington Post ran a blog post where Ralph Nader accused Terry McAuliffe of offering him an undisclosed amount of money to pull out of 19 battleground states in the 2004 Presidential election. (“Nader Accuses McAuliffe of Suppressing Votes”.) There is also a story out tonight which will be in tomorrow’s paper. (“Nader: McAuliffe Offered Money To Avoid Key States in ’04 Race”)
So what did Terry McAuliffe have to say about this? Did he deny it? Um, no. He had his campaign spokeswoman respond to the Post on his behalf. She didn’t deny Nader’s accusation at all. Instead, she sought to dismiss it.
This doesn’t pass the smell test with me. Remember when Mike Huckabee joked while campaigning for Bob McDonnell in Tazewell County, Virginia that Republicans there should let the air our of the tires of Democrats on Election Day? McAuliffe called that “voter suppression”.
Here’s what Terry McAuliffe said in a conference call with reporters:
When I became the Chair of the Democratic National Committee, the very first thing I announced was the formation of the Voting Rights Institute. Every year, we have seen attempts at voter suppression all across the country. Let’s be clear: there are no jokes to be made about denying people the right to vote in this country. It’s not a laughing matter. This is a right that people fought and died for, so as public figures, we must be sure that we are setting the standard.
We should be making it easier, not harder to vote. Unfortunately, Bob McDonnell has been a part of the problem. In addition to opposing measures like the motor voter law, he stood by silently when the House of Delegates recently voted down early voting and the no excuse absentee legislation. Now he is standing by silently as Mike Huckabee encourages his supporters to suppress the vote.
Today, I call on Bob McDonnell to take a stand on this issue and on Mike Huckabee’s comments and join me in fighting for voting rights. We cannot do this at the federal level alone. If we truly wish to honor this sacred right, the Commonwealth of Virginia must join in the effort to ensure that every eligible American has the right to vote.
It was clear that Huckabee was joking about what Republicans should do on Election Day. But Huckabee was certainly more serious in his effort to drive a wedge between the voters of Tazewell and Northern Virginia. (That was no joke.)
But that was April.
This is May.
Now McAuliffe and his supporters are seeking to dismiss Nader’s allegations which the Post calls “voter suppression”.
Here are my follow up questions for McAuliffe and Nader:
Mr. Nader, how much money were you offered? Did you ask for more money? Why didn’t you go public with this in 2004 when you allege that this happened? Do you have a candidate you are supporting in the race for Virginia Governor? Did you accept funding from Republican sources who saw you as a way to take away votes from John Kerry in 2004?
Mr. McAuliffe, are the charges true? (Your spokeswoman didn’t deny the charges.) What actually happened? If this is true, do you believe it was a proper use of DNC funds? Do you wish you had offered more money? Do you ever seriously believe Nader would accept your offer? Was this ethical? Was it appropriate? Was this a standard practice at the DNC during your chairmanship? Did you offer money to other candidates for other offices if they pulled out of a race? If so, which candidates and how much money did you offer? And finally, if Ralph Nader could have been bought in 2004, can you be bought in 2009? What about Creigh Deeds or Brian Moran? If so, how much money would prompt you to drop out? How much money would you offer Deeds or Moran to drop out? How much would they demand in your view?
Honestly, the double standard of the McAuliffe campaign here is not surprising. Nor is it surprising that his die-hard supporters are unwilling to say McAuliffe’s actions here were wrong.
But it does raise questions about Mr. McAuliffe’s integrity and honesty. (But that’s not new is it?)