Self-Evident

EXCLUSIVE: A Shocking Admission Comes From Within Darin LaHood's Disillusioned Campaign -- About IL GOP Governor Bruce Rauner Directing the Race

As we’ve reported here, those involved in the behind-the-scenes GOP nomination process — from sheriff to presidential candidate — are quite aware that the GOP leadership’s carefully chosen argument employed against conservative, grassroots challengers is perhaps the least authentic, defensible opinion you’ll hear coming out of Washington.

Conservative challengers are not engaged in a purifying “purge” of the GOP. Everyone — except the private citizen voter and donor being misled — knows the truth is the precise opposite.

Darin LaHood, the son of former Obama administration Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, is the GOP leadership/establishment favorite to replace disgraced former Rep. Aaron Schock in Illinois’ 18th District. The district is heavily conservative, and John Boehner, Steve Scalise, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the rest of the House GOP leadership fear an actual conservative holding this seat, as one would be able to retain it and be a consistent problem for them.

That’s why Scalise and Boehner threw a D.C. fundraiser for Darin LaHood, that’s why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave Darin LaHood their endorsement and thousands in donations, that’s why Darin LaHood told the obvious lie — what he knew the conservative 18th wanted to hear — during his debate that he would oppose the Chamber’s, Boehner’s, and Scalise’s “top priority” of passing Obamatrade, and that’s why the Chamber went further, lying to a local newspaper that Mike Flynn had sought out their endorsement.

After Monday’s final debate and the following endorsement for Flynn from kingmakers Mark Levin and Dana Loesch — recall, Darin LaHood’s campaign had only agreed to a debate if the candidates were limited to 90-second answers and not allowed to address each other — tips have been flowing to me from the disillusioned within LaHood’s campaign.

If it seemed to you, immediately following Aaron Schock’s resignation, that the state GOP and Governor Bruce Rauner were trying to clear the field for Darin LaHood, that’s because they were trying to clear the field for Darin LaHood.

Aaron Schock resigned on March 17; his final day in office was March 31. Governor Rauner then had a few days to announce the key dates for the special election.

Remember when Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned in 2012? Under then-Governor Pat Quinn (D), potential candidates were given 12 weeks to gather enough signatures to make the primary ballot.

Governor Rauner instead decided that candidates could begin circulating petitions on about April 7 until April 20: 13 days, instead of 12 weeks.

Rauner also set the initial primary date for June 6. Eventually he relented and moved the date until July 7, this Tuesday. But the petition period was kept at 13 days.

A source who was working in Rauner’s office at the time — and still is — says the reason for this was exactly what it appears to be: Governor Rauner wanted to clear the field for Darin LaHood, hoping he would run unopposed.

Further, the petition dates seemed to only apply to challengers like Mike Flynn. Witnesses report that at the McLean County Lincoln Day Dinner on April 2, LaHood’s team was circulating petitions.

Five days earlier than allowed.

Governor Rauner’s undemocratic support for John Boehner’s chosen candidate appears to have gone much further than setting near-impossible dates for challengers to comply with. In a special election primary, turnout is everything. Candidates must focus on getting out the vote for this election, which is predicted to only have a single-digit percentage of district voters participating.

Obviously, having an accurate roll of likely supporters to reach out to could be the resource that decides the election.

The approximately 40 interns who have been knocking on doors for Darin LaHood have been sent out prepped only with an app loaded with address information for voters who pulled the lever for Governor Rauner in 2014.

They will be using the Red Dialer app over the next few days until the July 7 election to contact those Rauner voters by phone.

Click here for Governor Rauner’s office number: ask them why they shared their voter data with one candidate.

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The nascent Darin LaHood campaign, back in late March, told potential campaign employees that it would be an easy campaign because LaHood would probably be running unopposed. LaHood was called “the chosen one.” (See below for background on that.)

Apparently, even after his terrible debate performances — which included him answering that he “wants everyone to only serve three terms” but refusing to commit to that, which quickly escalated to (yes, really) a potential aggravated assault charge, and his answer changing a few days later to eight terms — information sourced within campaign offices says that nothing has changed with their approach. The LaHood campaign is still expecting a cakewalk anointment of LaHood on July 7.

They are counting on their interns — several have dropped off, they now have about 36 — to  really get out the vote on Election Day via using that Red Dialer app and their database of Rauner voters.

They shouldn’t be so confident.

Since the Monday debate, calls are now being made that proceed like this:

Hello, I’m calling from the Darin LaHood for Congress campaign. AND I’M CALLING TO TELL YOU TO VOTE FOR MIKE FLYNN. What’s been going on in here is not OK, and you need to know about it.

Hoo boy.

And this is besides the fact that the LaHood campaign might otherwise want to immediately shut their whole Get-Out-The-Vote operation down, as they have been employing a questionably legal “point system” to calculate pay for its door-knockers and callers, and paying people to simply show up at events to make the LaHood contingent look larger:

Sources within the LaHood for Congress campaign tell Cities 92.9 that a complex “point system” is being administered within the LaHood campaign where volunteers are paid to volunteer, register people to vote and encourage them to early vote, as well as other various activities.

It’s not clear whether activities violate US Code Section C of 42 US Code Sec 1973i, stating that it is illegal to purchase votes or voter registration in exchange for cash.

The practice of compensating volunteers also brings into question the avoidance of paying employment tax, minimum wage, and possibly compliance with Obamacare.

A memo circulated by the LaHood campaign, dated July 1 2015, offered “triple points” until election day, and then “5x” points for election day. The points translate into cash payouts monthly.

One GOP insider told Cities 92.9 “this is a very desperate thing to do, to pay for volunteers is like paying for friends, and is not done by someone who thinks they will win an election.”

Attenders of a parade received 5000 points and 1000 additional points for each person brought to the parade to walk with LaHood.

A document given to Cities 92.9 shows full names of people who, when cross checked, show an association with the LaHood campaign, as well as some with no known connection. Many on the list are college students.

Cash payouts go from $100 to $1,000 and are on a monthly basis.

It sounds like some within the campaign are recognizing the mounting trouble, while some are still expecting “the chosen one” to waltz to victory.

Below are the documents mentioned in the above quote, given to me from within the LaHood campaign:

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Triple, quadruple, and quintuple points for those who show for Governor Rauner’sChosen One.” A pretty good deal, which might inspire some to fabricate their call volume and return falsely positive data to the campaign.

Yes, this has happened too.

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“The Chosen One”

A quick perusal of Darin LaHood’s history shows that high-level favors from folks like Governor Rauner, John Boehner, Steve Scalise, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are nothing new for him, despite him having never won an election.

Also unknown to most voters — and throwing into question why he keeps getting these favors for any reason besides lineage and patronage — Darin LaHood left his prior job as prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada after not one, not two, but three convictions were tossed following his prosecutorial misconduct:

When Dan Bogden was Nevada’s U.S. attorney during the Bush administration, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued at least three scathing opinions critical of federal prosecutors in his office.

The harshest involved the government’s gun case against Kendrick Weatherspoon because it suggested prosecutors in the office needed training on how to do their jobs.

Now that Bogden is U.S. Sen. Harry Reid’s choice to return to the job he lost under President Bush, the case is worth reviewing because it’s an admission of poor management during Bogden’s six years as Nevada’s top federal prosecutor.

Weatherspoon was convicted in 2003 of being a felon in possession of a gun. On appeal, the court said Assistant U.S. Attorney Darin LaHood made improper statements during closing arguments. The court decided there was prosecutorial misconduct because LaHood vouched for the credibility of witnesses and encouraged the jury to convict in order to alleviate social problems.

The 32-page opinion said LaHood engaged in the same kind of vouching in two other cases in which convictions were overturned. (The U.S. attorney’s office later persuaded the appellate court to delete references to LaHood’s name and lose the term “recidivist conduct,” replacing it with “repeat-offender conduct,” which still sounds more like a criminal than a prosecutor.)

LaHood is the son of Ray LaHood, a seven-term GOP congressman from Illinois, now secretary of transportation in the Obama administration. After six years as a federal prosecutor in Las Vegas, he left the office of his own volition in 2006, returning to Peoria, Ill.

The court kicked the Weatherspoon case back for a new trial based on LaHood’s misconduct, and Weatherspoon pleaded guilty.

In a separate opinion, Circuit Judge Stephen Trott, a former federal prosecutor, said LaHood didn’t vouch for witnesses but did cross the line by urging jurors to convict in order to protect the community from an armed convicted felon.

Trott’s politely brutal opinion said Bogden recognized LaHood’s mistakes and ascribed them to lack of supervision on the part of Bogden’s office and LaHood’s lack of training and experience. Bogden told the court LaHood’s errors were because of a management failure in his office.

Trott said he accepted Bogden’s willingness to take responsibility. Then he advised Bogden to give a seminar to his prosecutors on what’s permissible in arguing a case and review the supervision and training in the office. “Reversals on appeal because of prosecutorial missteps and resulting retrials are a brutal waste of time and valuable resources. The issues in this case were easily avoidable.”

The opinion suggesting federal prosecutors in Nevada didn’t know how to do their jobs was devastating to the office, several prosecutors said.

A meeting of the prosecutors was called, but Bogden wasn’t there. Chief assistant Steve Myhre was.

“He didn’t talk about the deficiencies or how to correct them,” one prosecutor recalled. “What he said was more along the lines of ‘We’ve got your back.'”

LaHood was “overworked and overwhelmed,” another prosecutor said. LaHood had four years of experience as a state prosecutor in Illinois, but both prosecutors said he needed better supervision in the federal system and didn’t get it, just as Bogden had admitted.

Hoo boy.

If you’ve ever heard a more “GOP establishment wuz here” phrase than “The U.S. attorney’s office later persuaded the appellate court to delete references to LaHood’s name,” then please, please send it to me. It deserves exposure.

None of this has mattered for LaHood’s future endorsements, though. His career since leaving Las Vegas has seen a series of GOP establishment kings throwing their weight behind Ray LaHood’s son.

Here’s the Chicago Tribune in 2006 — the same year LaHood left his post after three prosecutorial misconducts — raging angry that former House Speaker Dennis Hastert had forwarded Darin LaHood’s name to President George W. Bush for consideration for a vacant U.S. Attorney post in central Illinois:

Given their party’s devastating experiences with cronyism and insider politics, you’d think the Illinois Republicans in Congress would be careful about even the appearance of favoritism in choosing new federal prosecutors to enforce our public corruption laws.

But if you do think that, you’re wrong. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, with an assist from several of this state’s clueless GOP congressmen, has given President Bush the names of three candidates for the vacant U.S. attorney’s post in central Illinois. One of the three is Darin LaHood, the son of, that’s right, Ray LaHood, the distinguished GOP congressman from Peoria.

Hastert didn’t even publicly disclose that a GOP colleague’s son was on his short list for the central Illinois prosecutor post. Instead, the Peoria Journal Star dug up the scoop last week. That lack of transparency has Hastert looking tone-deaf, secretive and conniving.

After spectacularly failing as a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office, Darin LaHood has since received aggressive support from two — TWO — GOP Speakers of the House. Dennis Hastert and John Boehner.

Oh — also going to bat for the troubled attorney … was the former ATTORNEY GENERAL. 

Here’s John Ashcroft — yes, John Ashcroft — campaigning in 2008 in support of Darin LaHood’s run for Peoria County State’s Attorney:

JOHN D. ASHCROFT, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL, TO CAMPAIGN FOR DARIN LAHOOD

John D. Ashcroft, former Attorney General for the United States, will be in Peoria on Tuesday, April 22 to campaign for Peoria County State’s Attorney Candidate Darin LaHood.

Attorney General Ashcroft will be the featured speaker at a fundraising luncheon for LaHood. Ashcroft is expected to discuss his tenure as Attorney General, including the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and what has happened since 9/11 to fight terrorism.

LaHood is a former federal prosecutor who served under Attorney General Ashcroft. During his time with the Department of Justice, LaHood was appointed and served as the Lead Terrorism Prosecutor for the District of Nevada.

‘Darin was the Chief Terrorism Prosecutor for the District of Nevada and he played a significant role in helping to protect our country,’ Ashcroft said. ‘Darin understands what it takes to fight crime and protect our citizens. Darin’s prosecutorial skills of tenacity, creativity, and hard work are exactly the skills he will use for the citizens of Peoria County. Darin LaHood is the kind of public servant America needs at the local level and it gives me great pleasure to come to Peoria to support his candidacy for State’s Attorney.” 

“I am grateful for Attorney General Ashcroft’s support of my campaign and his willingness to travel to Peoria for this event,” said LaHood. 

The fundraising luncheon for LaHood’s campaign will be on Tuesday, April 22, 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Hotel Pere Marquette. Tickets to the event are $125 per person and $900 for a table of eight. To reserve a ticket for the event, please call Susan at 309-253-5153.

Mike Flynn has talked about this Darin LaHood campaign as being a “coronation.” Now, you know how deep it goes.

But they have plenty to worry about now, with a campaign that’s sprung leaks, has no enthusiasm, and apparently believes this is already a done deal despite the mounting anger.

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I’m spending the rest of the day investigating John Ashcroft’s above claim that Darin LaHood was “Chief Terrorism Prosecutor” while in Las Vegas. This claim also appears on LaHood’s official bio and on LaHood’s campaign page.

Do you buy that the attorney who a judge claimed kept screwing up because he lacked “training,” “experience,” and “supervision” was placed in charge of TERROR PROSECUTION?

The same attorney whose name was removed from the record after the fact?

I don’t, and I have yet to find any record of Darin LaHood prosecuting any terror case between 2001-2006. Maybe some of you can help us find out if, in addition to everything else, LaHood’s resume is cooked.