As we all know, James O'Keefe is the worst of the worst in politics, a right-wing political hit man who, among other things, was arrested "in January 2010 during an attempt to make recordings at the office of United States Senator Mary Landrieu." Ultimately, O'Keefe "was sentenced to three years' probation, 100 hours of community service and a $1,500 fine" for that little escapade. Then there's the whole ACORN episode, reminiscent of McCarthyism in its viciousness, sleaziness and dishonesty. Given all this, my initial reaction to O'Keefe's latest video, this one involving Jim Moran for Congress Field Director Patrick Moran (Jim's son), was that it most likely lived down to the extremely low standards of the guy putting it together, the usual bunch of statements taken out of context, selective editing, entrapment, the whole 9 yards.
In the end, that could turn out to be the case, at least in part. But if you watch the video, which I have, it sure doesn't look good for Patrick Moran (nor can I think of any plausible explanation for his behavior here, even if he was "set up" by scumbag O'Keefe). In short, what we see and hear in the video is absolutely unacceptable - morally, of course, and maybe also legally - behavior by anyone, let alone by a Democratic campaign official, let alone by the son of a sitting Congressman, let alone by...well, you get the picture.
First and foremost, Patrick Moran needed to be removed from the campaign. I would have preferred that he be fired, but instead he resigned:
Statement from Patrick Moran: "Effective immediately, I have resigned from the Moran for Congress campaign."
Then, the Moran campaign needed to provide a full explanation of what happened here. Instead, several hours after this story first broke, the Moran campaign has been almost completely silent, refusing requests by multiple journalists for substantive comment. So far, other than the Patrick Moran resignation, the only thing they've put out, at least to my knowledge, is the following, a few minutes ago:
Patrick is well liked and was a well-respected member of the campaign team. This incident, however, was clearly an error in judgment. The campaign has accepted Patrick's resignation, effective immediately.
Well then, that clears it all up. Not! I mean, can you say any less than that in a statement about a major news story? It would be difficult, that's for sure. I mean, c'mon, "an error in judgment," a "well liked and...well-respected member of the campaign team?" Seriously?!? Ugh.
A few minutes after the latter Moran campaign statement, the Arlington County Democratic Committee, whose office Patrick Moran is seen walking into towards the end of the video, issued the following statement:
Arlington Democrats condemn any form of voter fraud. Any allegations that such conduct has been condoned - especially in Arlington - is something we take very seriously. We are concerned by the apparent remarks of Pat Moran in the hidden-camera video arranged by Mr. O'Keefe. While we do yet not know Pat Moran's response to the video and Mr. O'Keefe's allegations, we understand that Pat Moran has resigned from the Moran campaign, and we have asked him not to return to our offices. The Arlington Democrats are committed to making sure that all voters have a full and fair ability to cast their votes in accordance with applicable laws, and that commitment will not change.
That's definitely a lot better than the Moran campaign's almost complete lack of communication on this story. Good for ACDC Chair Mike Lieberman for moving quickly on this. Still, there are a gazillion questions that need to be answered here (e.g., was this a completely isolated incident? how long has behavior like this been going on by Patrick Moran?), and I certainly hope the Moran campaign is far more forthcoming in the next few days than they've been so far today.
Of course, it could very well be that they're keeping their mouths shut for legal purposes, as it certainly appears, in watching this video, that Patrick Moran may have committed a crime and/or crimes here. The problem is that the legal and political imperatives facing the Moran campaign are potentially in direct conflict with each other. Saying as little as possible may be smart legally, but politically it would seem to me that the exact opposite approach - openness, a strong statement from Rep. Moran condemning this in no uncertain terms, possibly even requesting an outside investigation, etc. - makes a lot more sense. So far, though, that's not what we've gotten. At all.
Anyway, it will be fascinating to see how this plays out in coming days. Sadly, though, at this point, it's hard for me to envision a happy ending to this sordid little story.
P.S. I didn't enjoy writing this one bit. However, I strongly believe that Democrats, and certainly Progressives like myself, must stand strongly for the highest ethics and standards in government, even/especially when it's one of our "own" not living up to those ethics and standards.
UPDATE 7:05 pm: The Patrick Murray for Congress campaign has issued a statement. The problem, of course, is that Murray's a right-wing nutjob with zero credibility, and with zero chance of winning the 8th CD. So whatever...
For Immediate Release
October 24, 2012
Murray response to video of Moran campaign apparently conspiring to commit voter fraud in Virginia
Alexandria, VA - In light of breaking news and the release of a video showing Pat Moran, son and campaign staffer of Congressman Jim Moran, apparently instructing a person on how to commit voter fraud in Virginia, Moran's opponent in the 8th Congressional District, Colonel Patrick Murray issued the following comment:
After seeing this video on several news sites, I am very concerned about the campaign activities of my opponent. While it is not clear whether or not there was any wrongdoing, I hope that local, state and federal election officials will look into this matter immediately.
The integrity of our nation is at stake, and it appears that my opponent's campaign seems prepared to undermine free and fair elections right here in Virginia.
Sadly, anyone who is familiar with Jim Moran will not be surprised by this. The truth is that Moran has a long track record of hyper partisan behavior, racially charged comments and an infamous anger management problem. So this is more of the same embarrassing behavior that we've come to expect from Jim Moran and his campaign.
Patrick Murray is the Republican Candidate for Congress in Virginia's 8th District. Murray is a retired Army Colonel who served overseas in Iraq, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia during his 24-year Army career. He has worked in the U.S. State Department and at the United Nations. In 2007, Patrick deployed to Baghdad, Iraq during the "surge."
For more information, visit www.PatrickMurrayForCongress.com.
Honor and Courage,
UPDATE Thursday morning: Patrick Moran has issued the following statement:
In reference to the "O'Keefe" video, at no point have I, or will I ever endorse any sort of illegal or unethical behavior. At no point did I take this person seriously. He struck me as being unstable and joking, and for only that reason did I humor him.
In hindsight, I should have immediately walked away, making it clear that there is no place in the electoral process for even the suggestion of illegal behavior: joking or not.
In regards to my position on the campaign, I have stepped down because I do not want to be a distraction during this year's critical election.
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