It hasn’t been a good week for Jeanine Martin over at the Bull Elephant. Coming shortly on the heels of the controversy surrounding her blatantly racist attack on Asian-American immigrants, she is now coming under scrutiny for publishing attacks on a Fairfax County Republican incumbent on the Board of Supervisors – attacks that appear to be based on information leaked to her by Democratic campaign operatives.
Last week, on August 6, Martin published a story on the race between incumbent Republican John Cook and Democrat Janet Oleszek in Fairfax County. The story indicated that Cook had been endorsed by the Service Employees International Union Local 512, the largest union representing public employees in Fairfax County. It included apparent quotes from Cook’s questionnaire to SEIU, including some direct quotes from the narrative portion of the questionnaire.
You can view SEIU’s blank candidate questionnaire here.
She went on to criticize some of the alleged responses he gave, as well as relaying statements she claims he made directly to the leadership of SEIU Local 512 in their endorsement meeting. This was a closed meeting between the leadership of the local and Supervisor Cook – no press and no outsiders. She also alleged Supervisor Cook made similar statements in his interview with the Fairfax Chapter of the Virginia Police Benevolent Association.
At the end of her piece, she indicated that despite quoting verbatim two paragraphs she claimed came directly from Mr. Cook in his answers to the questionnaire, she admitted not having the full questionnaire and called on him to release it saying:
“To clear up any confusion that might arise about what Supervisor Cook said, or didn’t say, in his applications for union endorsements, we urge Supervisor Cook to release all union questionnaires, with his responses, to the SEIU, FEA, the Northern Virginia Central Labor Council and the Police Benevolent Association. When he does that The Bull Elephant will be happy to post his answers to the questionnaires in their entirety to quell any inaccurate rumors circulating in the community.”
Bearing Drift has learned from sources familiar with the Union’s decision making process that SEIU has not officially made their endorsements yet, has not released any of the candidate questionnaires and as a policy does not do so, even for candidates they’ve endorsed. A review of Local 512’s website confirms this. While you can find multiple press releases on endorsed candidates, not once are links to completed questionnaires provided. Nor does Local 512 comment on the individual interviews given to candidates who request them.
That begs the question – where did Jeanine Martin, an avowed anti-union Republican activist, get this information? How could she publish information that included details that would have been known only by the Cook campaign and SEIU local officials? Bearing Drift has confirmed with the Cook Campaign that they did not provide any information to media about the endorsement process.
In the comments on her piece, Republican activist and veteran campaign staffer Stephen Spiker asked whether this alleged information came from Ben Tribbett, formerly known as the blogger Not Larry Sabato. Tribbett, a political consultant and CEO of Pinpoint Technology LLC, is the senior campaign advisor to Supervisor Cook’s opponent, Janet Oleszek.
When questioned in the past regarding her relationship with Tribbett, she admitted her close connections with him.
Martin summarily refused to comment directly on Mr. Spiker’s question and he was summarily banned from the Bull Elephant site. When I raised a similar question, I too was summarily banned, despite past statements from Martin herself that no commenters would be banned based on the content of their posts. Bull Elephant co-owner and RPV State Central Committee member Steve Albertson confirmed that the Bull Elephant’s policy is not to ban commenters, but as of this writing, both myself and Mr. Spiker remain banned.
Martin later posted positive stories about two other Republican candidates for office receiving public sector union endorsements, one from the Virginia Police Benevolent Association and one from the Loudoun Education Association. Both of those posts were based on press releases from the campaigns or stories in traditional media, and neither criticized the Republican candidate for receiving the endorsement nor questioned what they said in order to receive it.
Where did Martin get her information on the Cook story? Did it come from Tribbett? Why would she post an article attacking a sitting Republican incumbent in a difficult primary against an opponent he only beat by a mere 371 votes in 2011? And why praise other Republican candidates for receiving public sector union endorsements while criticizing this one? Finally, why ban commenters who raised the possibility of her collusion with the Democrats? What is she hiding?
This incident calls into question the integrity of the Bull Elephant and Martin in particular. While it’s common to see Republican blogs criticizing Republican candidates in primaries, it’s rare to see that happen in a general election.
It is almost unprecedented, however, to see a Republican blogger publish a blatant hit piece on a Republican candidate based solely on information apparently gleaned from their Democratic opponent’s campaign consultant. This kind of behavior demonstrates not only a complete lack of integrity, it also demonstrates a complete lack of judgment.
Martin needs to come clean on what happened here and explain to her readers and to Republicans in Fairfax County and Braddock District in particular where she got her information from and why she chose to publish this piece.
Coming on the heels of her racist rant against Asian-Americans, this issue raises even more serious questions about her judgment and trustworthiness as a Republican blogger.