You Know What? I’m Really Not Ready To Let The Paid Blogger Thing Die Just Yet…

letiecq

Greg Letiecq?  Paid blogger, false witness… and did we mention paid?

Greg Letiecq doesn’t have a problem with paid bloggers — he is one.  Greg Letiecq has a problem with the fact that some folks are better at social media than he is.

I won’t bother linking to the post where the allegations are made.  Long and short, Letiecq (of Help Save Manassas infamy — a nativist group in Prince William County) decided that he would announce who he was getting paid by — namely Hollingshead, Brat, and Hill — and then allege that other bloggers were on the take and how unethical and unseemly that was.

Really?

So the phone calls start, and I did a quick survey:

Brian Schoeneman?  Nope.
Norm Leahy?  Nope.
Brian Kirwin?  Nope.
Justin Higgins?  Nope.
Jim Riley?  Nope.
Chris Beer?  Nope.
Lynn Mitchell?  Nope.
Tom White?  Nope.
Steve Albertson?  Nope.
Shaun Kenney?  Nope.

In fact, it has long been “alleged” that because of Bearing Drift’s readership and our advertising, we lean on the side of those whom we advertise for.  To the contrary — when you have a readership of 160,000, that tends to draw eyes.  Yet no one from any of the contested races has bought ads (of course, we haven’t approached anyone yet because General Assembly is in session — please consider after March).

The only one who is taking money to blog?  Greg Letiecq.

Which makes it a curious admission, given that the only person thus far to question my integrity on this was none other than Steve Waters, a consultant who has switched back and delivered oppo in the middle of a campaign in three instances: once regarding Feda Morton in 2010 in the VA-05 primary against Robert Hurt, another instance for George Allen against Jamie Radtke for the 2012 U.S. Senate primary, and then again in 2013 when he bailed on E.W. Jackson to go work for Corey Stewart.

The same Corey Stewart who, not incidentally, gets help from Greg Letiecq.

This is just the short list of “paid bloggers” on the nativist side of the fence, and there’s plenty more.  Needless to say, it rings a tad bit hollow as they are raking in cash from challengers on the right, while alleging similar activity on the other side of the fence.

It just ain’t true.

Jason Kenney is my brother and business partner for our firm.  He can take on any clients he so chooses — that’s his business.  Ironically enough, we found one another on different sides of the firing line in the 2013 LG nomination contest — he supporting E.W. Jackson (even after Waters’ defection to Stewart for a very nice sum), and I supporting Pete Snyder.  Not once has he been paid to blog here at Bearing Drift — ever.  Nor has he handed out cash for others to blog or submit op-eds, as is the habit among some.  Nor has he threatened others to blog or suffer the consequences of public exposure — unlike some.

Bearing Drift’s policy on conflicts of interest is very simple: (1) disclose, and (2) don’t talk about your client.  Our contributors have worked for people such as Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling, Marty Williams, Ken Cuccinelli, George Allen, Robert Hurt, Scott Rigell, various members of the House of Delegates and State Senate.  So strict is our code of ethics, that during my time on the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors, not once did I politically leverage Bearing Drift for my interests there.  We have removed, and many contributors have voluntarily removed themselves, if they believe the conflict of interest to be that strong.  Nor will you find any Bearing Drift editor talk about their profession here.  It’s a gentleman’s agreement, shared by ladies and gentlemen.

…so when paid bloggers whine about how honesty and ethics trump their dark money, you can only guess at how the rest of the world reacts.  With laughter.

There’s another thing I want to mention, and it’s this.  When paid bloggers come after the ones who put their heart and soul into the profession of new media, it damages all of us.  Think of it as a NATO of good people.  Steve Albertson, Lynn Mitchell, Chris Beer, Justin Higgins, Jim Riley — these are good people whose opinions are not bought (unlike some).  Just because one or two do indeed prostitute their reputations (such as they are) doesn’t mean the rest of the world is as low or common.

Which brings us back to Greg Letiecq.  If you want to know his character, take a few moments and watch this:

So what would have spurred these allegations, you ask?  It couldn’t have been a very strongly worded call to arms here on Bearing Drift against this sort of nativist sentiment, could it?  Why, someone popping out of trucks in camo gear with a camera harassing Hispanics… guys like that couldn’t possibly take offense — right?

…and there you have it.  Of course, there’s a Part 2 and a Part 3 to how deep these connections go — whether I drop that information depends on whether I really care about how paid bloggers choose to run.

In the meantime?   Well… desperate candidates will throw anything at anyone to save failing campaigns.  Between Gillespie, Cantor, and Comstock — they are miles ahead of their competition, and the Virginia blogosphere has grown extremely tired of being pitched otherwise by paid bloggers, then bullied when you don’t conform.

Two can play at that game, and honesty seems to be a far better policy than grasping at straws (even if you’re paid to do so).

UDPATE:  Justin Higgins over at JHPolitics is not amused in the slightest:

If we want to have an extended conversation on the ethics of blogging, I welcome it. I, after all, have never written a post on this site for anyone who was sending me money. Ironically, Mr. Letiecq has worked on behalf of candidates and written posts about them, often failing to disclose his professional relationship with them. He argues that it is “common knowledge” who he works for, but that assumes that readers have taken the time to familiarize themselves with his work. That’s a lofty assumption for a man with such limited reach.

Ouch.

UPDATE x2:  So others in Prince William and Stafford are starting to take notice and share information.  Needless to say, the Southern Poverty Law Center has a great deal to say about the source of the allegations:

Letiecq is head of the nativist extremist organization Help Save Manassas, which boasts more than 2,000 members. He also runs “Black Velvet Bruce Li,” one of the most popular anti-immigration blogs in the region. On it, Letiecq refers to day-labor centers as “open-air toilets” and describes Latino pro-immigrant activists as “mobs of machete-wielding radicals wearing ski masks” who are part of a global “Zapatista” conspiracy that also includes “burning cars in the suburbs of Paris.”

. . .

But Letiecq shows no signs of letting up. “We are obliged to defend our embattled culture before we inexorably veer off onto [a] destructive path,” he wrote in “Our Culture Under Assault,” an essay in the December issue of Frontline, his group’s newsletter. “Whether our battle is combating the ‘press one for English’ insanity, or preventing the pollution of our longstanding cultural traditions with pagan harvest rituals from Mexico in our Christmas celebrations, we must engage in the struggle.”

I’ll let you be the judge.

UPDATE x3:  It’s good to have friends.  Steve Albertson chimes in from over at The Bull Elephant:

We in the right-leaning Virginia blogosphere benefit enormously from the active participation of people who actually participate in the political process in capacities beyond merely being observers. Most of the people who blog on politics tend to also be active participants in some capacity or another. Many, like myself, hold positions or are active within the GOP. Others are career campaign professionals, some are lobbyists, and still others are various species of consultant (campaign, policy, communications, media). The one thing that unifies us? We believe strongly in our candidates and our causes, and we all tend to write in the way that advances them. This is just and proper.

…and there you have it, with an awful nice personal hat tip.

I’ll take Shaun Kenney and Jason Kenney at their word. As my wife says—herself the product of a very large extended Italian family from Boston—they’re good Irish Catholic boys, and stand-up guys.

That’s where we’re at right now — folks with lesser reputations grabbing ladders to stab up at folks with better reputations.