Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Lindland v. Franklin

Shortly after my new PAC, the Conservative Majority Project, got involved in the Matt Lindland race in HD 52, I started getting asked about Matt Lindland's "felony."

I was asked about it from various people, lobbyists, grass-roots coalition leaders, and even people in the House Leadership office. Clearly, someone somewhere was spreading a pretty harmful and outrageous lie about Matt Lindland.

The rumor had obviously penetrated the usual campaign noise. When Matt sat down for his interviews with both the Oregonian and the Sandy Post, he was asked about whether he has a felony on his record. That is not a normal question to be asked in that situation - I know, I have done these interviews.

To say Matt Lindland was upset about such a rumor being spread is an understatement. This guy is not just running for office. He runs a martial arts training center where he personally works with children. He promotes fight events at the Rose Garden for which he solicits sponsors. Having someone spread lies about a felony is tremendously damaging not just to his chance of getting elected, but even to his livelihood.

Telling lies about someone's criminal record is clearly slander, which is grounds for a civil suit. In fact, lying about this particular thing is considered "slander per-se," which by law means that the victim of the slander does not need to prove that his reputation was damaged, which is one of the harder things to prove in a slander case.

It didn't take long asking around to identify the source of the slander: Elaine Franklin, political consultant to Matt Lindland's opponent, and wife of former U.S. Senator Bob Packwood.

I know Elaine casually. I was stunned that she could do something so reckless. Look, I've been in the political arena for a long time, and I am not at all naive. I've seen a lot o stupid moves. But telling bald faced lies about a criminal record is so far over any conceivable line that it was almost unthinkable that Elaine would do it.

Yet that is what I was told. By people I know and respect.

There was no proof, however. I had the word of Gayle Attebury of Oregon Right To Life, who said that Elaine told her Matt was a felon.

Then I got an email from JL Wilson, who is the lobbyist for Associated Oregon Industries (AOI) which is one of the larger donors to the campaign of Matt's opponent, Phyllis Thiemann. JL helped recruit Thiemann, and is helping strategize for her campaign.

JL wrote to complain about a CMP mail piece we sent out on behalf of Matt. I wrote back defending the piece, and mentioning that it was hard to feel very charitable about the Thiemann campaign when Elaine Franklin is out there slandering Matt Lindland.

JL wrote back: "Yeah, I'm really appalled at the nonchalance with which Elaine tagged Matt with that felony. I heard it straight from her, and I had no reason not to believe her, and then it turns out not to be true. That is BS for sure."

Well, that was the closest thing to a smoking gun that usually exists in a slander case, which inherently hinge on hearsay evidence.

Matt Lindland is a fighter by profession. Now that he had such strong evidence, he was not about to sit back and let Elaine Franklin continue to slander him. He has stepped into the ring with a lot scarier people than Elaine Franklin.

So he wrote the demand letter the Willamette Week wrote about yestereday.

He doesn't want to have to sue Elaine Franklin, but he will certainly do it if she doesn't come clean, admit what she did, and apologize. And he also wants Phyllis Thiemann to denounce Elaine, which seems perfectly reasonable. I mean: what is she going to do, defend her? Can she continue to have Elaine Franklin be her consultant after this? If so, she is not fit for office, I can tell you that.

Now, JL Wilson is criticising me for releasing his email to the media. I am sorry that he is upset by it, but I am not sorry I did it. The email he sent me said nothing about confidentiality. He expressed outrage at what Elaine did, and I would assume that anyone in his position would want to hold her accountable for her actions.

So I am a little puzzled that JL is criticising me. If it is his view that I should have kept the email secret, he must then think that we shouldn't do anything to hold Elaine Franklin accountable for what she did. In fact, he obviously knew what she was doing, and declined to do anything to expose her. Silence is complicity, to some extent.

One thing JL is criticising me for is not giving him the courtesy of a "heads up" before I took it to the media. Well, he is working with Elaine Franklin on this race. Had I notified him, it would have tipped off Elaine. Sorry, can't do it.

In any event, Elaine Franklin slandering Matt Lindland is such an egregious violation of standards of behavior in a political campaign that she has to be held accountable for it. We simply cannot allow this type of thing to tear apart the Republican party, and we especially can't allow it to go on by a person who is not even a Republican, and who has made it her life mission to purge the party of conservatives.

I hope the rest of the party - the conservative lobby, and other Republican office holders -- will condemn what Elaine Franklin did. It has no place in politics. It poisons the well for everyone, and it is morally wrong.


RINO WATCH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RINO WATCH said...

One & only encounter with the young man, JL, at a public meeting several years ago told me he was very thin skinned and "Green" politically.

That said, Good for you Rob!

Anonymous said...

Good luck getting Elaine Franklin to admit anything, much less apologize. That is not in her nature. Matt will have to sue the wench.