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THE BIGGEST CRONY: Cantor Campaign Leader Paid $12.3M by Virginia GOP

June 5th, 2014 - 2:07 pm

On April 24, I reported that Ray Allen — Eric Cantor’s campaign chief and the founding partner of political direct-mail firm Creative Direct, LLC — had received $1.13 million in compensation from the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) for the year 2013. The party had issued that amount to Creative Direct; the amount represented the single largest expenditure for the party that year. Allen’s company was given the contract to handle direct mailings for the party.

At issue is the appearance of a “fixed” primary environment for Eric Cantor’s opponent, Dave Brat. Yet further examination of the RPV’s finances reveals that the situation with Eric Cantor’s long-time campaign chief is much more lucrative than previously reported, and began far earlier than 2013.

Dave Brat is not the first Cantor challenger to face a party and an incumbent with the appearance of alignment against his campaign’s fortunes. Every Cantor opponent has faced that situation.

Cantor was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2001. Dating back to 2001, firms owned by Allen — or Allen himself — have received a whopping total of $12.3 million in payment from the Republican Party of Virginia. The chart below breaks down the payments according to whether they were issued by the state RPV Committee or the Federal RPV Committee:

          Year                  State           Federal
2014 $26,144
2013 $1,130,790
2012 $41,723 $1,498,181
2011 $2,196,142 $23,158
2010 $83,112 $313,960
2009 $2,246,965
2008 $200
2007 $952,023
2006 $21,627 $369,219
2005 $1,204,648
2004 $22,292 $325,392
2003 $243,184 $134,366
2002 $61,918
2001 $1,390,782
Sub Totals $9,621,550  $2,664,276.00
Total $12,285,826.00

 

The most troubling aspect of the payments relates to Allen’s behavior this year regarding “slating,” the procedural maneuver of disenfranchising most delegates at a district convention in favor of a handpicked slate of delegates to vote in contests for district chairman. Thousands of Virginia Republicans were disenfranchised by Allen’s efforts — and Allen’s only goal was to install Cantor-friendly chairmen around the state. Donors to the Virginia Republican Party do not simply have an appearance of conflict to worry about, they have a primary season’s worth of Allen’s party-splintering behavior to consider along with the information that Allen was paid $12.3 million of their donor contributions.

Considering the party has made Allen wealthy via donor contributions, his recent encounter with the RPV seems all the more distasteful. On May 15, I reported the following:

Sources tell PJ Media that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s long-time top consultant, Ray Allen, has “angrily” stated to multiple individuals that he intends to bankrupt the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV), to install his own people throughout all levels of RPV’s State Central Committee, and to rebuild the RPV with money from Eric Cantor’s donors. 

Ray Allen is considered the “brain trust” of Eric Cantor’s Young Guns, which has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and has hired staff with the intention of retaking control of the RPV at all levels. (Eric Cantor and Ray Allen lost control of the RPV in 2012, when Tea Party/conservative candidates won seats at all levels of the party, taking majority control from Cantor allies.) In this effort to reclaim the majority, Ray Allen has helped orchestrate the parliamentary procedure of “slating” at several RPV conventions this season.

Further, Allen’s Creative Direct is responsible for the deceptive mailers sent to Seventh District voters over the last two weeks. The mailers position Cantor to the right of Dave Brat on amnesty, and refer to Brat as a “liberal college professor.” Politifact, rarely an ally of conservative candidates such as Brat, gave them a rating of “mostly false” and “false.”

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Interestingly, the RPV itself appears to have expressed concern regarding conflicts of interest with the Cantor team recently — just not in the case of Ray Allen, a conflict that has been allowed to continue for over a decade.

Shaun Kenney, the recently installed Executive Director of the RPV, was revealed to have been on the payroll of Cantor’s campaign both before and after his appointment. Kenney’s political consulting firm, K6 Consulting, was listed on Cantor’s FEC filings. Since that disclosure, Kenney has been entirely absent from his political website Bearing Drift, where he had promoted Cantor in recent months.

Allen’s payments represent a far larger conflict of interest to the RPV than Kenney’s. The payments to K6 were significantly smaller, and Kenney’s visible work for Cantor appears to have been limited to blog posts.

If the party is concerned about conflicts, why was the comparably insignificant conflict halted immediately, yet the $12.3 million relationship with Allen and his firms allowed to continue for 14 years?

Yesterday, I investigated the objectively too-cute coincidence of Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), amnesty champion, showing up in Eric Cantor’s backyard to lambast Cantor as being “the one man blocking immigration reform” just days after Eric Cantor direct-mailed each human-shaped object in his district to claim he was exactly that — the man blocking amnesty. Gutierrez’s appearance was all the more suspicious with hindsight, as Cantor and Gutierrez participated in a three-day speaking tour last year to promote “comprehensive immigration reform.”

The mailer this week was coordinated by Cantor’s long-time top advisor Ray Allen, who is also the principal at direct-mail firm Creative Direct.

Cantor’s primary opponent Dave Brat arrived at the Richmond capitol building two hours before the Gutierrez event to draw attention to the coincidence. Said Brat, after referring to Cantor’s prior support for various piecemeal amnesty bills such as the DREAM Act and the ENLIST Act:

Eric Cantor saying he opposes amnesty is like Barack Obama saying he opposes Obamacare.

Last night, in response to a Roll Call interviewer questioning him about the dueling themes at the two press conferences earlier in the day, Ray Allen said the following:

Gutiérrez, from his point of view, has a legitimate beef with Eric Cantor because he blocked the Senate’s amnesty bill; David Brat is just lying.

Objectively, Allen just urged Roll Call readers to accept that Gutierrez — the man who orchestrated an event that included signs declaring Eric Cantor to be the chief enemy of his cause — was the man to listen to.

From Allen’s comment, no logical conclusion can be drawn other than that Cantor and Allen were pleased with Gutierrez being there, and were not pleased that Dave Brat preempted Gutierrez’s event.

Sources tell PJ Media that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s long-time top consultant, Ray Allen, has “angrily” stated to multiple individuals that he intends to bankrupt the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV), to install his own people throughout all levels of RPV’s State Central Committee, and to rebuild the RPV with money from Eric Cantor’s donors. 

Ray Allen is considered the “brain trust” of Eric Cantor’s Young Guns, which has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and has hired staff with the intention of retaking control of the RPV at all levels. (Eric Cantor and Ray Allen lost control of the RPV in 2012, when Tea Party/conservative candidates won seats at all levels of the party, taking majority control from Cantor allies.) In this effort to reclaim the majority, Ray Allen has helped orchestrate the parliamentary procedure of “slating” at several RPV conventions this season.

Slating involves disenfranchising all properly registered delegates at a district convention in favor of a vote by only a few dozen handpicked delegates. This tactic was employed to protect the incumbent chairmanships of some Cantor allies: hundreds to thousands of Tea Party/conservative delegates have been forcefully ejected from VA RPV conventions over the past few weeks and months.

However, the ejected delegates and others opposed to Team Cantor have since had success appealing the slating attempts, leaving Allen and Cantor with little to show for their hardball tactics other than alienated constituents, a terrible local public relations problem, and worse, a rapidly gaining primary opponent in challenger Dave Brat.

Sources additionally claim that Allen has attempted to meddle in the multiple appeals of his slating attempts — Allen was reportedly looking to guide how the appeals should be conducted.

These bombshell allegations — implying that Eric Cantor’s reelection effort intends to dismantle the Republican Party of Virginia and to employ it as a vehicle for the expansion of Cantor’s power and influence — could not arrive at a more precarious moment for the Cantor campaign for two reasons:

1. Cantor just suffered a game-changing defeat at the Seventh District Republican Convention. On May 10, Linwood Cobb — a powerful Cantor advocate and ally — lost the chairmanship of the Seventh District to vocal Cantor critic Fred Gruber.

Additionally, Cantor’s speech at the convention received boos and heckling when he attempted to denigrate Dave Brat. Cantor, receiving this treatment in his own district, appeared visibly unnerved and needed to interrupt his speech to address the hecklers.

2. Cantor’s own recent comments put him in a difficult position for defending against these new allegations about Allen. Recall, Cantor just asked “kissing congressman” Vance McAllister (R-LA) to resign over his infidelity, which will perhaps be considered a much lesser offense by Cantor’s constituents than these allegations regarding the behavior of Cantor’s campaign.

Said Cantor of McAllister:

I just said, “Look, when we took the majority in 2001, I had said that we should hold ourselves to a higher standard,” … “And that’s why I did what I did and I told him I thought he should resign. Because, in my mind, what happened does not meet that higher standard.”

Additionally — and further undermining the strength of Cantor’s support network —  former Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling said the following after Linwood Cobb’s defeat and the heckling of Cantor on May 10:

Clearly, there is a battle taking place for the heart and soul of the Republican Party. We are seeing this battle play out all across our state. While the voice of every Republican should be heard, our challenge is to figure out how to be a conservative party, without allowing the most extreme voices of the day to control our party and determine its future direction.

I am contacting Bill Bolling to ask if Ray Allen’s reported behavior fits Bolling’s categorization of “most extreme voice of the day.”

I am also contacting Eric Cantor to ask if Ray Allen’s reported behavior — which Cantor can reasonably be presumed to have known of — meets Cantor’s categorization of a “higher standard,” and if he would have requested McAllister resign following publication of similar behavior by his closest aide.

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After learning that newly installed Virginia GOP Executive Director Shaun Kenney is on Eric Cantor’s payroll, Virginia Republican voters are now hearing that a company run by Cantor’s top consultant, Ray Allen, is wealthy from party money. Allen’s Creative Direct, LLC is not just on the Republican Party of Virginia’s payroll, it represents the single largest expenditure on the party’s 2013 campaign finance disclosures.

Sound like a fair primary landscape for Cantor’s opponent, Dave Brat?

Should Eric Cantor survive this primary on June 10, he is the presumptive next speaker of the House, although this is dependent on what occurs with John Boehner and the large caucus of House Republicans who oppose his speakership. If he becomes speaker, Cantor would be the voice of what is shaping up to be a significantly larger Republican House majority due to the nation’s disgust with Obamacare. This majority would certainly benefit from a scandal-free environment in which to battle for the actualization of that mandate to repeal.

With that situation as background, local Virginia political site The Bull Elephant has broken this story about Ray Allen:

Why Rep. Cantor thinks it is a good idea to needlessly antagonize half the party he wants to lead is beyond me.

That’s why it is intensely interesting to look at the Republican Party of Virginia’s 2013 campaign finance disclosures, available on VPAP.org. The vendor with the single largest spend of RPV dollars (and RNC Victory funds channeled through RPV)? Yep, you guessed it: Ray Allen’s Creative Direct LLC, to the tune of $1.13 million. So far in 2014 we haven’t had any elections, but Creative Direct has been tapped to do fundraising direct mail pieces for RPV, fattening Ray Allen’s wallet by another $26,000 while Allen orchestrates destructive slating campaigns at various Republican units around the state.

I don’t know about you, that doesn’t sit right with me. I think that if Ray Allen has access to Rep. Cantor’s money, then let him have at it. But, the Republican Party of Virginia must stop subsidizing the corruption of its own processes — immediately. Not a single dime of RPV money should find its way into the unclean hands of this political thug ever again.

Donors to the Republican Party of Virginia invest considerable money and trust in the organization. I suspect many thousands of them would be appalled by the revelation that the party’s largest recipient of expenditures is one candidate’s — the sitting incumbent’s — top consultant.

Below, a Bull Elephant commenter shares his anger. The presumptive result of the Ray Allen and Shaun Kenney scandals is the GOP’s aiding in the crowding out of primary challengers to Cantor’s seat; with that in mind, the commenter mentions the Amelia Island retreat Eric Cantor recently headlined. The retreat’s sole topic of discussion? Strategy for aiding GOP incumbents facing a strong conservative/Tea Party challenger:

Donors give to RPV thinking their money will be used to fight Democrats. Instead, it’s used by Ray Allen and Eric Cantor to attack and disenfranchise Republicans. Don’t forget, Eric Cantor just got back from a Soros-funded conference on how to destroy the Tea Party. And he and Ray Allen have disenfranchised hundreds of conservative GOP activists all across the state this year.

It’s kinda like the Russians sending saboteurs into Ukraine to stir up trouble, then using the trouble as a pretext to invade. Likewise, the Cantor/Allen machine uses donors’ dollars to bloody the convention process, to argue that it’s “too messy and exclusive,” so as to get back their primaries and their direct mail contracts.

The commenter, by mentioning “direct-mail contracts,” is referring to the business of Ray Allen’s company, Creative Direct. The company creates direct mailings for political clients.

With “disenfranchised hundreds of conservative activists all across the state this year,” the commenter is referring to “slating.” Allen is accused of helping orchestrate the procedure to the benefit of his clients this season, including Eric Cantor. Read here and here for background on slating.

Pat Mullins is the chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. I am sending this post to Mullins, and asking if he was aware of the magnitude of the payments being sent to Allen, if he believes the payments represent an unacceptable conflict of interest, and if he is going to terminate the contract with Allen.

I will update this post if I hear from Chairman Mullins.

Little comes easier to a skilled speaker than clarity; clarity makes up much of the “skilled” qualifier. Politicians require the ability, and generally have the personality type that draws one to public speaking. Ironically, these facts produce a wonderfully useful corollary: If a politician’s statements leave you unsure of his stance on an issue, you can be sure he opposes the popular stance of his electorate.

If you can speak clearly, you can never not.

On Monday, Byron York posted an excellent piece of journalism on the increasing clarity enveloping Speaker John Boehner in regards to House GOP leadership’s intentions on amnesty. The following is excerpted from York’s piece, “John Boehner’s Double-Speak Rattles House Immigration Foes“:

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Boehner, while speaking to donors in Las Vegas recently, said he is “hellbent” on passing immigration reform “this year.” A lot of Republicans concluded that when Boehner is speaking to jittery members, his message is: Relax, nothing’s going to happen. When he’s speaking to fat cats, the message is: We’ll get it done.

The report sparked an uproar, which in turn caused Boehner’s office to hit the “Relax” button again. “Everyone can tell their editors to chill,” Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck told reporters. “Nothing has changed. As he’s said many times, the Speaker believes step-by-step reform is important, but it won’t happen until the president builds trust and demonstrates a commitment to the rule of law.”

The reassurance didn’t reassure. Team Boehner’s response was “the ultimate non-sequitur,” in the words of one Senate GOP aide involved in the immigration battle.

“Most members see the leadership as being supportive of Gang of Eight-style reform,” said a House Republican lawmaker who asked to remain anonymous. “We continually hear that once most primaries are over, the leadership will move forward with comprehensive reform.” (emphasis added)

This information on the behind-the-scenes consensus reported by York follows last week’s perfectly clear, bizarre interaction between House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and President Obama. For background, recall that Cantor — the second-most powerful GOP House member, subordinate only to Boehner — just faced significant criticism for headlining an exclusive, private fundraiser on Amelia Island for Steve LaTourette’s Republican Main Street Partnership PAC. (Boehner had been slated to attend, but dropped out.) RedState’s Erick Erickson revealed the meeting’s agenda, as quoted from the retreat’s invite:

[B]olster our incumbents who are under attack from the far right, and ensure that we hold on to seats represented by pragmatic Republicans that we would otherwise loose if there was an ultra-conservative in the general runoff.

Then, following the meeting, Cantor faced news of a brewing scandal in his district over the Republican Party of Virginia’s newly appointed executive director, Shaun Kenney. Last Monday, to outpace rumors that Kenney’s consulting firm K6 was employed by Cantor prior to Kenney’s appointment and continues to work for Cantor since, Kenney’s Bearing Drift blog — which is run by Shaun, his brother Jason, and Jim Hoeft, the same three partners who run K6 — admitted that Cantor’s upcoming FEC filing would indeed disclose payments to the firm.

I broke the story nationally here at PJ Media, drawing attention to the dead and buried lede from the Bearing Drift post: the executive director of the Virginia GOP is on the payroll of one of the candidates during a primary. That would rise to the level of “showstopper conflict of interest” even in, say, Egypt. Especially considering the candidate is the most powerful Republican in Virginia, which gives Virginia GOP voters objectively strong reasons to assume that Cantor helped Kenney secure the appointment.

Presume you are a Virginia voter: Why would you invest your time in a party primary if the party shows such disregard for the individual voter’s considerable given trust? What would be the point of such a party’s existence beyond allotment of leadership’s power?

I contacted Cantor’s opponent, economics professor Dave Brat, for an exclusive quote. Said Brat:

Since no Democratic challenger has emerged from that party’s own primary process, the GOP primary election on June 10 will result in the next U.S. Representative for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.

Yet with this revelation, any pretense of fairness regarding that June 10th election has been dashed.

We now ask Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins to explain how and why Shaun Kenney was appointed Executive Director.

We are also calling for an independent investigation into the financial relationship between Eric Cantor, Shaun Kenney, and the Republican Party of Virginia. (emphasis added)

Team Kenney has responded by claiming Shaun is not on Cantor’s account — it only belongs to his brother Jason. This defense does nothing to dispel concerns about the motivations behind the appointment, and also is justifiably a crock.

(Note: I have been given several emails written by Shaun in the prior few months. The emails reveal Shaun to have been vociferously defending Cantor and trashing Brat in messages to notable Virginia Republicans and donors.

For a guy not on the account, Shaun sure knows the account’s talking points, and whom to send them to. I will get to the emails in future articles.)

So — that’s the background prefacing Cantor’s strangely described phone call with President Obama: Cantor was facing allegations of secretly plotting against Tea Party/conservative Republicans at a retreat, plus a revelation that his campaign is paying the company owned by the newly appointed party executive director. (And I won’t even get to expanding on this other Cantor scandal from last week in this post, but do yourself the favor of reading it at Virginia political blog The Bull Elephant: Eric Cantor’s chief consultant, Ray Allen, was paid $1.13 frigging million by the Republican Party of Virginia. Which is now executive directed by the upstanding Shaun Kenney.)

At this point in time, Cantor chose to release a statement portraying himself as tough on amnesty and on President Obama. His statement was indeed tough, yet it was also muddied enough regarding Cantor’s amnesty stance to baffle the voter who hasn’t yet considered the “skilled speaker” conundrum.

The consistently sharp Allahpundit at Hot Air wasn’t the slightest bit fooled:

It’s pitiful that we’ve reached this point, but Obama’s account of this chat really is more credible than Cantor’s. O’s position on immigration is straightforward: He wants amnesty badly …

The GOP leadership’s position is anything but straightforward. They’re convinced that they need to pass some sort of immigration bill before 2016 or else Latinos will hand the White House to Democrats, but they’re not sure how far they can go without enraging their own base. Cantor wants you to believe this phone call was contentious because he’s eager to reassure conservatives that he’s holding the line on amnesty, especially conservatives who are less inclined to make him the next Speaker than they used to be. Obama, though, really has no reason to lie in describing it as pleasant. If anything, he’s forfeiting a little juice from his own base by not claiming that it was as contentious as Cantor says.

Long story short: Barack Obama may be the more honest broker in the great Democratic/Republican immigration tango.

This brings us to today’s maddening stasis, and the Byron York piece. As York states, the House GOP caucus isn’t merely opposed to moving significantly on amnesty, it’s about 90% opposed — perhaps Boehner and Cantor could peel off only 20-30 votes out of 232 Republicans. Yet despite that advantage, the 90% now sits pat, waiting for Boehner and Cantor to actually, inarguably, undeniably show their cards, whatever that action might entail. 

Why are they waiting to act? Truly, I don’t know why. I could prattle on game theory and risk management, but really, no one could possibly offer a sufficiently logical reason for the wait-and-see.

But the GOP electorate must convince them to act — and to act immediately. Boehner and Cantor are likely prepared for a post-primary amnesty push. And only a pre-primary, preemptive attack can halt this amnesty drive by House leadership in tandem with locally corrupt party tacticians like the RPV.

As the 90% clearly requires further convincing, do suggest they pay attention to the behavior of arguably the least-talented GOP politician in the House. They must know about Renee Ellmers, by all accounts a Boehner acolyte and confidante. Ellmers is their “tell”; she parrots Boehner’s behavior and talking points, but lacks the political acumen or knowledge of the amnesty issue to effectively keep the caucus waiting, as Boehner and Cantor have.

On Monday, Ellmers put out a breezy press release titled: “Congresswomen Renee Ellmers: A Busy and Beautiful Spring Week in the Second District.” She spent part of April 15 that week attending an amnesty friendly presentation by two University of North Carolina professors. Here she is, in the yellow:

ellmers

During the event, Ellmers asked her scripted series of questions:

“Are they taking jobs from Americans?” asked Ellmers of UNC-Chapel Hill Professors James H. Johnson and Stephen J. Appold who were presenting the report “Demographic and Economic Impact of International Migration to North Carolina.”

“Is the migrant population underpaid? Is there evidence that those who are hiring undocumented workers are not being reported? Did it factor into your research?” asked Ellmers.

Subtle.

Then, the House leadership-compliant answers:

“You’ve got these native North Carolinians saying they have a construction company but can’t get jobs,” explains Appold. “When they started their company, they were 25, now they are 60. The work goes to younger people.”

He’s making his point using the numbers from the report, which shows the majority of immigrants to North Carolina in recent years are between 25 and 40, are family-oriented and come to work.

So no, immigrants coming to North Carolina are not taking the jobs of native North Carolinians. “We have an aging workforce in North Carolina, and those jobs that immigrant workers fill, not a large number of native people are trying to fill those jobs,” says Appold.

They call it the three D’s; difficult, dirty and dangerous. “Native workers don’t like to do those jobs. Young native men would rather be a door greeter at Wal-Mart than take a construction job that pays $10-15 an hour,” says Johnson.

Then, the introduction of political correctness and emotion. As usual, every expenditure is reasonable if framed as an “investment”:

Johnson says the report shows that the state takes a $67.31 billion(!) loss annually when educating immigrant children, but Johnson says the state should see it as a long-term investment in North Carolina’s communities.

“Immigrants are breathing new life into (our) communities, fostering both population growth and economic and employment growth through their entrepreneurial acumen,” says Johnson. (emphasis added)

So, now you know who Ellmers is.

Really, I would be piling on redundancies by also mentioning … her recent amnesty-related humiliation by Laura Ingraham, her amateur-hour claim that she has “the same immigration stance as Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee, and Dr. Ben Carson,” and her videotaped berating of some of her anti-amnesty constituents.

Back on March 18, I suggested that Ellmers’ and Cantor’s primary challenges deserve the most attention this season; since then I have done little besides investigate the two races. They have been fascinating as glimpses into the GOP party rift, the corruption of GOP leadership at a local level, and leadership’s hiding the banana on positions that abandon their electorate.

Now, they aren’t just case studies. They are flash points, the whole battle.

Ann Coulter gets it. She endorsed two GOP House challengers last week: Dave Brat and Frank Roche. Cantor’s challenger and Ellmers’ challenger. 

Both are campaigning against party corruption and excessive federal spending, but most notably they are campaigning against the amnesty push being fostered by Cantor and Boehner. Ellmers is very clearly a pawn of Boehner and Cantor, he must be counting on her, or testing the waters with her. Meanwhile, Cantor is possibly directing a state GOP using every trick imaginable to crowd out the Tea Party types, and he literally attended a seminar to discuss how to crowd out the Tea Party types. (And yes, I will be discussing the dirty tricks employed by local North Carolina GOP figures in service to Ellmers in future articles as well.)

Want to stop GOP leadership? Here’s Frank Roche on amnesty:

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And here’s Dave Brat on amnesty:

Today, Speaker John Boehner will unveil plans to move the Republican Party toward a full throated support of amnesty for the 10-20 million illegal immigrants whose first act in our country was breaking the law.

We all know the basic economics. Labor markets are still in chaos, and now our leadership wants to import more low wage labor, lower the wage rate for our citizens, and provide BIG business cronies with cheap labor.

The Elites get cheap labor and you get low wages, more unemployment and to pay all the taxes that will support the Ruling Class in DC. This is classic Cantor vs. the People of the 7th District.

We cannot allow our Party to go down this dangerous road!

My opponent in this race has been described as “relentless” in his pursuit of amnesty, and we cannot send Eric Cantor to Washington to once again partner with Barack Obama and Harry Reid to lead the charge on this issue.

During the critical government shutdown, Eric Cantor was holding meetings to establish a roadmap to amnesty. At a time of serious financial crisis, our Majority Leader was more focused on making sure that those who entered our nation illegally would be given a path to citizenship than on reducing our growing debt or making sure we are doing everything we can to put Americans back to work. His efforts have culminated in this summit today.

As your congressman, you can count on me to be a stark departure from our current representation. Whereas Eric Cantor has been an Obama ally and amnesty’s staunchest proponent, I will be a forceful voice against such efforts and among the strongest opponents to this liberal pet policy.

I believe that we must always uphold the rule of law, and we cannot become like the Left, skirting around our laws to benefit a particular group. The foundation of our republic remains strong when no one receives special treatment.

The Cantor/Brat primary date is close, on June 10. The Ellmers/Roche primary is much closer — May 6. Both need lots of money now.

Want to know more about the detestable manner in which national and local GOP leadership is attempting to tilt these races? Follow and investigate these two races. I will be posting more in the days ahead.

The clock is ticking on these two all-important primaries. When they’re over, and if leadership prevails, expect Boehner and Cantor to act on amnesty.

UPDATE, 9:00 p.m. EST: Virginia political blogger Tom White offers an example of Shaun Kenney’s recent behavior in the service of Eric Cantor’s primary campaign.

In early March, a third candidate named Peter Greenwald was still active in the primary race. Greenwald, along with Dave Brat, was challenging Cantor from the political right. White, who felt Brat was the stronger challenger to Cantor, wrote a post suggesting that Greenwald bow out of the race.

Shortly thereafter, Shaun Kenney interviewed Greenwald. Kenney prefaced the interview by referring to White’s post:

So I read this piece from Tom White over at Virginia Right over the week, and I couldn’t help but think that it just didn’t sit right. So I took the time to do a “Five Questions” interview with former U.S. Navy commander Peter Greenwald at his home in Chesterfield. What I found was that Greenwald — far from the lunatic or fanatic some are feverishly trying to paint him as — is a remarkably profound and Christian man with the courage to wear his faith on his sleeve.

What was supposed to be a one-hour chat turned into a two-and-a-half hour conversation about faith and family, motivating principles, America’s national security and defense, and above all else Greenwald’s overwhelming concern for the federal debt and the national deficit.  One thing struck me very quickly — Greenwald is a genuine candidate with very real motivating principles that are different than David Brat’s more libertarian-leaning concerns.  Greenwald was a realist in every term, knowing that he had an uphill campaign against Majority Leader Eric Cantor with a small chance of success, but knew that any victory he had would be attributable — according to his faith and values — to God.

Walking away, I drew two lessons: (1) Brat is not going to push Greenwald out of the race, and (2) Greenwald and his army — flying column might be more like it — are going to wear out significant shoe leather making a go of this campaign.

Recall: Kenney’s consulting firm was hired by Eric Cantor’s campaign, and Kenney was subsequently appointed as Virginia GOP executive director. Days after Tom White suggested that Greenwald bow out of the race so a stronger challenge to Cantor could arise, Kenney criticized White and conducted a praise-filled interview with Greenwald.

Kenney’s interview oddly referred to Brat as “libertarian-leaning,” claimed Greenwald has “very real motivating principles” as opposed to Brat, and insisted that Brat would not push Greenwald out of the race.

In service to Eric Cantor, it appears that Kenney spent two-and-a-half hours misrepresenting himself and his motives to a former U.S. Navy commander. In the commander’s home. Was he directed to do so? Did his employer know or approve of the dishonest interview?

Forget it, Jake. It’s Cantortown.

—————————————

UPDATE, 4:30 p.m. EST: Eric Cantor’s primary opponent Dave Brat has provided me with an exclusive response:

“Since no Democratic challenger has emerged from that party’s own primary process, the GOP primary election on June 10 will result in the next U.S. Representative for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.

Yet with this revelation, any pretense of fairness regarding that June 10th election has been dashed.

We now ask Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins to explain how and why Shaun Kenney was appointed Executive Director.

We are also calling for an independent investigation into the financial relationship between Eric Cantor, Shaun Kenney, and the Republican Party of Virginia.”

—————————————–

On a local website co-managed by Shaun Kenney, the newly appointed executive director of the Virginia GOP, a colleague of Kenney’s admitted last night that Kenney’s political fundraising and consulting firm is employed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Cantor is now campaigning to retain his seat in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. Cantor’s challenger for the GOP primary on June 10 — Dave Brat — is politically on Cantor’s right, and is thus receiving national interest from conservative/Tea Party groups that are disappointed with Cantor’s record as majority leader.

The magnitude of the revelation can not be overstated: GOP voters in Virginia’s 7th District have just learned that the person appointed to manage the primary election season for the party is being paid by one of the candidates. And, in addition to the disqualification of Kenney as a fair arbiter of the primary, the financial ties obviously raise the question of whether Cantor, the most powerful Republican in Virginia, had Kenney installed as executive director.

Further, the article revealing the financial ties attempts to describe a longstanding relationship between Cantor and the partners at K6 Consulting. However, this appears to be irrelevant. Cantor’s own financial disclosures for 2013-2014 do not include any records of payments made to K6 Consulting or any other entity tied to Shaun Kenney. The article claims that the upcoming FEC financial disclosure will reveal that K6 is employed by Cantor.

Unless Cantor’s financial disclosures were incomplete, K6 Consulting signed a contract with Cantor just in the past few weeks or months, as Kenney was being selected as executive director.

Indeed, this matches with what I have heard from multiple sources.

Last week, I was told that in recent weeks Shaun Kenney was overheard on more than one occasion — and at two different locations — claiming that “he had landed the big fish, Cantor.” The two locations were the Republican Party of Virginia Headquarters and the Richmond General Assembly Building.

 I will update this article as I receive more information.

Last week, Erick Erickson reported that John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Kevin McCarthy — the three most powerful Republican members of the House — would be attending a private weekend retreat at Amelia Island to discuss how to “bolster our incumbents who are under attack from the far right.” The retreat is sponsored by Republican Main Street Partnership, a PAC headed by liberal Republican Steve LaTourette and funded by several Democratic Party-supporting organizations.

Since Erickson’s report, Boehner has announced he will not be attending due to a “scheduling conflict.”

As of today, the event has disappeared from Main Street’s Events page.

Will Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy still attend? Is the event still on?

I have placed calls to both congressional offices. I have also contacted Main Street to ask why the event listing has been removed, and why Main Street’s website contains no other mention of what would be their largest event of the year.

(Author’s note: In looking to cover House primaries involving moderate Republican incumbents — particularly those enjoying the approval of current GOP House leadership — now receiving a strong challenge from the right, I was introduced to the candidacy of Frank Roche in North Carolina’s Second District

It’s a fascinating race. In the past month, Roche’s campaign to unseat Rep. Renee Ellmers has evolved into a case study of Tea Party/conservative gripes with national GOP leadership, a representative example of the current party rift. Each recent development received national attention; some of the developments were broken here.

Please do look back and examine the recent campaign coverage. The key theme I hope you take away from it — and be sure to apply this lens as you absorb similar news regarding national GOP leadership: A curious voter will soon know exactly what policies Roche supports, and how he intends to govern. Objectively, the same cannot be said of Ellmers.

Just this morning, Ellmers — who two weeks ago claimed she had the same immigration stance of Tea Party stalwarts Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, and of libertarian Rand Paul — published a half-page op-ed in the left-leaning Sanford Herald, a local paper generally supportive of Democrats.

Her topic? Supporting “public-private partnerships.”) 

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Steinberg: With Renee Ellmers’ recent appearance with Laura Ingraham, her speech to the Moore County GOP convention, where she claimed to have the same immgration stance as Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul, this video that just surfaced of her berating constituents who actually do hold views similar to Cruz, Lee, and Paul — your primary has become a referendum about immigration policy and the GOP.

Your immigration stance — do you align your policy with those three?

Roche: I think I am probably a little more aggressive in my stance than the three senators, and certainly more so than Representative Ellmers.

I’m looking for something quite different than what we’ve experienced over the last four decades. And I’m not only talking about illegal immigration. We of course have to stop this once and for all by properly securing our borders, getting a handle on our short-term visa program, and, of course, dealing with those who are here illegally — which would not include amnesty, or anything like amnesty, or “path to citizenship,” or any other semantic twist of phrase they want to use.

But where I really want to put emphasis is the legal side of immigration. That’s where we need to make dramatic changes.

We need to sharply reduce our yearly legal immigration. We need to move away from family reunification as a basis for our immigration system, and to go back to a national origins-based system, one based on the economic interests of the United States.

Lastly, the other key metric here is that we must move away from official recognition of multiculturalism, identity politics, and political correctness. These social counterparts to our immigration numbers are what makes immigration so damaging to the United States, so divisive.

We can start by simply applying our current laws. We have strong laws on the books. It’s really not that difficult to come up with effective immigration policy, but it takes the courage to change what’s been in place for 45 years.

Steinberg: Your district, NC-02 — what are the chief industries in your district, and has immigration policy factored into any challenges facing your district’s economy now? And those challenges, do you tie them to Ellmers tenure?

Roche: The challenges facing the Second District are not that different from the challenges facing America, generally speaking, with respect to immigration. The Second District, we have agriculture, we have housing, we have high-tech, and in all those sectors we know that immigration is playing a large role. In my hometown area, it’s becoming known as “little India” as a result of the use of H1-B visa programs to bring in IT workers from India, and also Asia. In housing and agriculture, we see more of the Hispanic worker. In this area, it’s not just the low-skill workers, it’s the high-skill level as well. It’s not just Hispanics, its Asians and Russians and Europeans. Simply, immigration policy in general is impacting the ability of citizens in the Second District to gain employment.

It’s also impacting the ability of these industries to see growth in wages. We know now, the evidence is clear that one of the key damaging aspects to immigration policy in regards to economics is the cap on wages. Real wage growth and real hourly earnings are being impacted by immigration policy.

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On Friday, March 21, Ron Woodard of NC Listen reported on a meeting he had with Renee Ellmers on the topic of immigration and amnesty. He claimed he had exited the meeting appalled both by her positions and by her behavior.

One of the constituents attending the meeting recorded the conversation.

The Randolph Tea Party posted the clips online, and exclusively forwarded the links to PJ Media. Four clips of the meeting are embedded below.

At one point, Ellmers says of Woodard: “You don’t have any damn facts.”

Ellmers claims he is stereotyping, and constantly interrupts him. This conduct occurred after she had inconvenienced the group by changing locations at the last minute, refused to let all of the attendees into her office, and insisted she had to be leaving shortly.

Listen to her positions on immigration, and see if they follow her claim that she holds the same positions as Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee. Yesterday, Lee’s Communication Director Brian Phillips answered her claim with this statement:

Sen. Lee’s position has been very clear: piecemeal legislation, one bill at a time, evaluate and verify each step as we implement the reforms. We have read Rep. Ellmers’ most recent op-ed on reform and it sounds a lot like how the Gang of Eight tried to sell comprehensive immigration reform, something Sen. Lee spent several months last year opposing.

WATCH VIDEO ON NEXT PAGE

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Last Saturday, Renee Ellmers (R-NC02) — a 2010 Tea Party favorite who has since lost the support of conservatives — gave a brief speech to the Moore County, North Carolina GOP Convention. During the speech, she claimed to hold the same views on immigration as Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and even Dr. Ben Carson.

This statement came a few days after Ellmers’ tendentious appearance with Laura Ingraham last week — an interview that might have progressed smoothly had Ellmers actually expressed the same views on immigration as those four.

Ellmers’ brief speech in Moore County offered no specification backing her claim, did not address how the statement was at odds with her recent appearance with Laura Ingraham, and was given seemingly without considering that someone would reach out to one of those four for comment.

(I have — I will print any responses here.)

Following Ellmers’ speech, the convention attendees proceeded to select her opponent Frank Roche two-to-one in the straw poll. A terrible showing, especially considering she is the two term incumbent, and this was a GOP convention, not a Tea Party gathering.

Here is the speech in its entirety:

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Ellmers appearing with Laura Ingraham to discuss immigration was a harebrained decision, a mistake clear to anyone familiar with Ingraham’s commitment and experience opposing amnesty. Following that error, Ellmers compounded it by highlighting the praise she received from the Mark Zuckerberg-led, transparent, dopey amnesty ploy “Americans for a Conservative Direction.”

We cannot know, but these bizarre two weeks of campaigning by Renee Ellmers sure looks like the result of an ambitious candidate attempting to please national GOP leadership ahead of her constituency. Or perhaps one promised aid from the national party, an amount she believes sufficient to hold off her conservative challenger Frank Roche.

Though she has generally governed with an abandonment of her 2010 platform and base, the current missteps now seem less the work of an amateur, and more that of a two-headed monster: national leadership and Ellmers’ local team, trading off on odd and even days. I don’t know how else to figure it.

Either way, I do not see how she recovers, considering both the makeup of her district and the already significant anger over her tenure. Ann Coulter endorsed Frank Roche yesterday, and she hadn’t even seen this video yet.

Again, I have reached out to Cruz, Lee, and Paul, and will post any responses here.