By Dustin Hurst | Watchdog.org
HELENA – It’s almost as if Democrats across the country are playing from the same nasty, less-than-honest campaign playbook, and now they’ve set their sights on Republican Senate challenger Denny Rehberg.
First, President Barack Obama’s campaign suggested Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney committed a felony on some early-2000’s Securities and Exchange Commission disclosures.
Then, Priorities Action USA, the Obama-packing super PAC, basically inferred that Romney killed a lady by closing a steel plant, thus eliminating her husband’s health insurance.
And who could forget Democratic U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s accusing Romney of not paying federal income taxes in the past decade – a claim the Nevada lawmaker offered without corroborating evidence?
Rehberg, Montana’s lone congressman since 2001, is the new target of a less-then-factual attack from the Democratic Machine.
On Monday, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington – CREW for short – asked the Flathead County sheriff’s office to disclose documents pertaining to a 2009 Flathead Lake boat crash that injured Rehberg and a handful of others.
State Sen. Greg Barkus, who allegedly had twice the legal alcohol limit in his system immediately after the crash, pleaded guilty to causing the accident, and a judge ordered him to pay $29,000 in fines for his role in the incident. The judge also handed down a four-year deferred sentence.
“I’ve taken full responsibility for this accident,” Barkus said just before sentencing, as reported by the Flathead Beacon. “I’ll have the memories and nightmares forever.”
CREW alleged in the statement released Monday that Barkus and Rehberg essentially lied to police investigators about why the boat ended up on the rocky bank of Flathead Lake. “Further, it seems Sen. Barkus and Rep. Rehberg may not have been honest when questioned by investigators,” CREW executive director Melanie Sloan wrote.
That, of course, would be a crime in and of itself, if true. Montana Code punishes anyone who lies to investigators with up to six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.
Rehberg, for his part, was never charged in the incident.
As always is in politics, there’s much more to this story.
While CREW postures as a small group of people concerned about the future of Montana’s political representation, that’s just not the truth. Instead the group is a left-wing attack dog used solely for political gain.
Here’s CREW’s modus operandi: This innocent-sounding good government group calls of an investigation of a certain public official, usually a Republican. The Democrat’s campaign then spreads word of the inquiry through friendly blogs and Twitter friends, hoping to sway voters too overwhelmed to do their homework on CREW.
And that’s exactly what happened in Montana this week.
Here are some select tweets from some top politicos:
CREW’s Twitter account:
Aaron Murphy, Tester’s campaign manager:
Montana Streetfighter, a new, anonymous political blog created to aid Tester’s re-election bid:
And, of course, the Montana Democratic Party parroted Murphy’s tweet:
A trusting, unassuming electorate might suppose these attacks legitimate. What suburban housewife or busy Montana rancher has time to research CREW and the group’s nefarious dealings?
Instead, this is simply an attempt to revive a dark smudge on Rehberg’s character just days before Montanans who vote through mail receive their ballots.
Here’s what TIME Magazine said about the group in 2006:
“Since its founding in 2003, CREW has worked through legal and regulatory channels to press allegations of impropriety almost exclusively against Republicans.”
Because everyone knows only Republicans have trouble with ethics. Right.
CREW operates as a nonprofit, but refuses to reveal its donors. The group has acknowledged, however, it has received at least $100,000 from mega-liberal George Soros, the left’s sugar daddy.
The 2.1-million member Service Employees International Union has also pitched in to help fund the group in the past. SEIU backs Tester through the secretive Patriot Majority, a covert outside spending group attacking Rehberg on a number of issues.
Roll Call, an influential political publication in the nation’s capital, wrote in 2008 that CREW served as a front for some of its top political donors.
Neither CREW nor Tester’s campaign returned email requests for comment on the issue.
Tester’s campaign is no stranger to throwing out unfounded accusations sans hard evidence.
Just a few weeks ago, Tester’s campaign insinuated that, because Republican strategist and Crossroads GPS head man Karl Rove held a fundraiser in Rehberg’s honor in Whitefish in mid-September, the two camps coordinated on media messaging and attack strategy.
With Rove running an outside spending group and Rehberg a federal candidate, that would be a federal felony.
Tester’s campaign never produced finite evidence to suggest the claim had merit.
Contact Dustin Hurst via Dustin@Watchdog.org or through Twitter using the @dustinhurst handle.