Monday, August 14, 2006

Lunch For Letters Campaign Backfires On Al Weed

The following is a true reflection of the integrity of both Barnie Day and Al Weed.
Rocky Mount, VA - August 14, 2006 - Statement by Barnie Day on an Al Weed proposal to "plant" derogatory letters against Virgil Goode in the opinion pages of Virginia's newspapers:

"I am disgusted by a recent Al Weed proposal to encourage the surreptitious "planting" of derogatory letters to the editor against Virgil Goode in a "contest" among his supporters that would "award" a Charlottesville lunch with me to the author of the nastiest planted letter to make it past the gatekeepers of Virginia's opinion pages. This insidious proposal - made to me by Mr. Weed - insults fairness and integrity and demeans press freedom. It does not represent values I hold dear as a Democrat. It does not represent values I hold indivisible as a Virginian. It does not represent values I hold sacred as an American. I will have no part of it."

Virgil Goode was "surprised and disappointed" in hearing about the contest. "I hope this campaign will be about the issues facing Central and Southside Virginia, not personal attacks," said Goode.

Barnie Day is a former Democratic member of the Virginia House of Delegates and an author and commentator, and serves as an officer of the Smith River Community Bank in Stuart in Patrick County
I had lunch with Barnie last Thursday, and I did not have to write any nasty letters to earn the priviledge. Apparently Al Weed thinks so little of Barnie that asking him to prostitute himself for the Weed campaign does not set off any ethical alarms. Or is it that Weed thinks so highly of himself that he really thought Barnie would do so? Either one is totally unacceptable to 5th District voters of either party. I am a Republican, Barnie Day is, as noted above, a Democrat. Call us the Felix and Oscar of Stuart, but I am proud to consider him a friend, his statement above is just one indication of why I am.

After I received the press release, I immediately called Barnie. He verified the truthfulness of the account and the accuracy of the quote.

I next called the Al Weed campaign office to get Mr. Weed's side of the story. I spoke with a very charming lady named Jean Wyant who seemed shocked to hear the story. Her response was, "That doesn't sound like Barnie at all," she said, "it sounds like something made up."

I'm sorry, Ms. Wyant, that does sound like Barnie. It sounds exactly like Barnie, a man I know to be of high integrity. During our conversation, while it was thought that I was a constituent calling, the response from the Weed campaign was that it could never have happened, that it just could not possibly be true.

I asked Ms. Wyant for an official response from Mr. Weed. She said that Mr. Weed was not in the area today, but that the communications director would call me right away. So I went outside for a smoke.

An hour or so later I had heard nothing so I called the campaign office again. I asked once again for an official response, as I needed it before publicly commenting on Mr. Weed's actions. At that point something must have clicked in someone's head up there in Charlottesville, because I received a call from Curt Gleeson in less than 5 minutes. It became apparent during our conversation that Mr. Gleeson is familiar with this blog. That in itself is troubling. While I was Alton Foley, just some guy who lives in Collinsville, it was time for total denial. The staff was even willing to go so far as to accuse Barnie of making it up. But once someone realized that I am "that Alton Foley" and I would actually be writing something on this issue, I became important enough to get a call from Mr. Gleeson. I would prefer it be the other way around. A constituent should always come before any type of media. Whether that media is the Washington Post, or this humble page of scribbling.

During our phone conversation, Curt offered to e-mail me Mr. Weed's statement on the Lunch for Letters campaign. His statement is included below in its entirety;
Mr. Goode is again running from his record. He's trying to create news that distracts from his unethical and possibly illegal behavior. I absolutely encourage Mr. Goode's constituents to write letters concerning his poor record in Washington. He has represented them by taking illegal money and rewarding contributors with earmarks for useless contracts. People are ashamed, and want ethical representation.

Mr. Goode is playing politics when he should be working as our representative. It is time for the games to stop. Events in England last week have reminded us of the severity of potential terrorism. It's unfortunate that Mr. Goode is spending time talking about letters to editors and not the cost of our involvement in Iraq. In his release Mr. Goode says, "I hope this campaign will be about the issues facing Central and Southside Virginia, not personal attacks." I couldn't agree more. This election is too important and the issues are all too real to distract voters. Mr. Goode, will you join me and pledge from this moment on to not engage in personal attacks?
Unfortunately, Mr. Weed's statement does not address the question, did he propose the Lunch for Letters campaign? Instead he personally attacks Mr. Goode, politics for a while on the war on Terrorism, and then disingenuously asks for a pledge against personal attacks.

Like Barnie, I'm madder'n hell. Al Weed wants my vote, but I'm not important enough to get a straight answer until it's learned that I just may actually influence someone with this blog. He has insulted a friend of mine, a friend who could have been an asset to his campaign, but no more. And now with this release of a non-statement by the campaign, he has insulted the intelligence of voters in the 5th District.

After I received the official statement from the campaign, I replied back asking for a specific answer about the Lunch for Letters campaign. Mr. Gleeson's response confirmed that during a phone call Al Weed and Barnie Day did in fact discuss letters to the editor, and that Mr. Weed and Mr. Day have not corresponded since. The campaign continues to deny, however, that any letter writing contest has been or is being planned.

Hat Tip to The Wilting Weed

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