It looks like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is learning a lesson about when to choose battles. For example, when you’re going to lob potentially criminal allegations at the seventh richest person in the United States, make sure you have your facts straight first.
The DCCC recently put out a statement insinuating that billionaire Republican donor Sheldon Adelson “personally approved” of prostitution at his Macau casino, and asked, “What will Speaker Boehner, Leader Cantor, and House Republicans do with their Chinese prostitution money?”
The statement made it seem like the allegations were confirmed by the Associated Press, when in fact the news organization was just reporting on a lawsuit filed by a fired Adelson employee. Adelson has disputed the charges, and now his attorneys are threatening the DCCC with a defamation suit, according to The Hill:
“We just received and are reviewing Mr. Adelson’s attorney’s letter,” DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson said in an email. Ferguson did not respond to a follow-up inquiry.
In late June, the DCCC sent out a release alleging that prostitution money tied to Adelson helped fund the campaigns of Reps. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) and Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), as well as other GOP incumbents. …
“Immediately retract and apologize for defamatory statements falsely accusing Mr. Adelson of encouraging and profiting from prostitution, maliciously branding Mr. Adelson as a pimp who has given ‘Chinese prostitution money’ to your political opponents,” the letter from Adelson’s attorney, first obtained by the Las Vegas Sun, reads in part. “These false allegations constitute libel per se entitling Mr. Adelson to compensatory and punitive damages.”
The Cook Political Report tells us (subscription required):
Without Appropriations Chair and 20-term Democratic Rep. Dave Obey on the ballot, GOP Ashland County prosecutor Sean Duffy suddenly has a more realistic shot at a seat in Congress than any other reality TV contestant-turned-candidate before him (which, we know, isn’t saying much). In the current political environment, any heavily working-class seat that falls close to the national partisan average (PVI D+3) isn’t the type of open seat Congressional Democrats want to defend. President Bush came within one percent of carrying this seat in 2004.
As a result, this is no longer a “Likely Democratic Seat.” Instead, “the current enthusiasm gap between the parties and the competitiveness of this district at the national level warrant moving WI-07 from the Likely Democratic column to the Toss Up column.”
And we will soon get a preview from a formerly sure-bet Democratic district: “The most important district to watch over the next month continues to be PA-12, where the May 18th special election will tell us something about voter intensity and attitudes in blue-collar areas Democrats have represented for a long time.” It seems that the Democrats’ problems are snowballing — with each resignation, others are considering heading for the hills, more seats come into play, and more vulnerable members must be defended. This is how wave elections come about.
The news that David Obey, the longtime Democratic House member from Wisconsin, is going to retire from his seat rather than attempt to secure reelection against a surging Republican named Sean Duffy is fascinating in many ways, particularly how, in this year, Obey’s seniority and chairmanship of the Budget Committee are clearly liabilities with voters rather than positives. But culturally, there’s something more telling. Duffy is a county district attorney in Wisconsin. Before he became a lawyer, he first came to prominence as a member of the cast of “The Real World,” the pioneering MTV reality series. (His wife Rachel Campos is also a veteran of “The Real World,” though they were not on the show together; they met as part of a reunion show, and they have six children.) If Duffy wins, he will be the first person to emerge in politics from reality television. That may sound like something silly, but there was a time when people scoffed at actors getting involved in politics (“Imagine Broadway Melody of 1984,” sang Tom Lehrer when the second-rank hoofer George Murphy made it into the Senate as a California Republican in 1962). Indeed, people still scoff, which led a great many people to smile dismissively at the possibility of Al Franken winning the Minnesota Senate seat. And yet there Franken is. The Duffy example, if he’s successful, may even incline some young go-getters to do whatever they can to get onto a reality show to launch a political career. You heard it here first.