Late last week, Keystone Politics was forwarded an email that had been sent out by the Altmire campaign to their Washington D.C. contact list. The email, innocuous enough on its face, is an invitation sent out to PACs and persons on Altmire’s D.C. fundraising list requesting their attendance at a high-price fundraiser as well as inviting them to attend phonebanks in D.C.
Upon further inspection, however, one particular item sticks out as highly disconcerting.
It turns out that the phonebank is actually being held at the lobbying office of Potomac Strategic Development, a lobbying group with very strong ties to Republican candidates, campaigns, and initiatives.
After extensive research, Keystone Politics has found that almost every senior staff member for Potomac Strategic Development has contributed to or worked in a high capacity for various Republican campaigns.
Steven Carey, the President and Founder of PSD, served as Legislative Director for Representatives Tim Hutchison (R-AR), Jay Dickey (R-AR), and Hal Rogers (R-KY) as well as a Legislative Assistant to Representative Carl Purcell (R-MI).
Charlie Dewitt, PSD’s Vice President for Policy, previously worked as the Legislative Director for Representative Tom Campbell (R-CA) and as a Legislative Assistant for Representative (now Senator) Mike Crapo (R-ID).
The lobbying firm’s Public Policy and Government Relations Consultant, Melody Fennel, was nominated by President George W. Bush for the position of Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Karen Johnson, a consultant for the lobbying firm hosting phonbanks for Altmire, has a long history of serving ultra-conservativism. Johnson was a Senior Advisor to Mike Huckabee for President, served as Assistant Secretary of Education for Congressional and Legislative Affairs under George W. Bush, was the Convention Manager for Public Liaison at the 2000 Republican National Convention, was the Campaign Manager of John Kasich for President as well as PAC manager for Kasich’s Pioneer PAC, served as Grass Roots Coordinator for Ron Saxton for Governor (R-OR), and finally as a Staff Assistant to the highly conservative California Congressman Duncan Hunter.
The conservative bona fides go on and on.
It is odd enough that the Altmire campaign would hold a phonebank at a D.C. lobbying firm, but the real question is why a Republican lobbying firm would be so very eager to support Jason Altmire.
It turns out that Altmire is one of only three democrats that have received contributions from Potomac Strategic Development since 2007.
Browsing through the lists of campaign contribution recipients, it is chock-full of thousand-dollar donations to Republican politicians like Vernon Ehlers, Tom Cole, Dean Heller, Pete Hoekstra, Dick Lugar, Kay Granger, and many others. The only three Democrats that received funds include Altmire, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), and Jim Moran (D-VA).
Yet, whereas Moran only received a total of two donations and Murray received a single $500 donation, Altmire received a whopping $10,250 over the span of fifteen donations.
It is truly outlandish that a Republican lobbying firm would so frequently and so generously give to a Democratic Congressman, and then go as far as hosting a phonebank for him.
This should be highly disconcerting to Democrats in the 12th Congressional District. Altmire has spent the campaign trying to paint himself as the more reliable liberal as opposed to his Primary Election opponent, Congressman Mark Critz. While Critz has voted with the Democrats more frequently in the most recent Congressional term, Altmire has been claiming that his own record since 2006 is more loyal to the Democratic Party.
But, if he is such a reliable Democrat, why rely on a Republican lobbying firm to host phonebanks? And why would a Republican lobbying firm host a phonebank for the more liberal Democrat?
Surely, there are enough people in the district to be making the calls and knocking the doors—at least if you believe the Altmire campaign’s internal poll from mid-March showing him leading Mark Critz 55 to 31 percent, and, among Democrats living in Altmire’s current district (comprising 66 percent of the new 12th), the poll had Almire leading 73 to 12 percent.
Having claimed such a high level of support, it is just odd that the Altmire campaign would eschew his supposedly strong base of Democratic support in favor of Republican political operatives.
This is not the first time that the supposedly strong base of Democratic support for Congressman Altmire has been called into question. During the nominating petition period, Altmire came within close to a hundred valid signatures of being thrown off the ballot.
After the Commonwealth Court ruling on the nominating petitions, Altmire said in a statement that “[i]n filing this unsuccessful challenge, Mark Critz has lowered himself to tactics usually reserved for elections to high school prom king, rather than the United States Congress.”
It seems that now, after failing to attain any major labor union endorsements, failing to gain the endorsement of President Bill Clinton, and apparently failing to be able to mobilize enough supporters in his home district, Congressman Altmire has (to model his own phraseology) lowered himself to tactics usually reserved for elections to Republican Primary nominee, rather than those of a reliable Democratic Congressman.
For those interested in attending Altmire’s D.C. phonebank, it will be held:
Monday, April 16, 2012, 6PM – 7:30PM
Potomac Strategic Development Co., LLC
101 Constitution Ave., NW, 9th Floor, East Tower
*Please bring your cell phone and laptop!
And, if you live in the 12th District, make sure you ask anyone calling you on behalf of Jason Altmire whether they are actually a former Legislative Assistant to Republicans calling from Washington.