Friday, October 29, 2010

Betty McCollum's Extra Special Constituent Outreach

The first lesson of a scandal is this: the coverup is always worse than the crime.

So do we have a scandal concerning Betty McCollum? Maybe not yet, but the way she has handled the widespread dissemination of a video highlighting her 2002 omission of "under God" while leading the Pledge of Allegiance, is within shouting distance of scandal. You might recall that I wrote about my Congresswoman's behavior a few times this week, here and here. The first post concerned McCollum's performance in 2002. I didn't think it was a big deal and said as much. Later that day, someone posted a comment under the name "MN04" on my blog, directing me to a rather venomous press release that McCollum had posted on her official website. To refresh your memory, here were the kind words of my representative:

Conservatives are using an eight year old video clip to incite hate, racism, and intolerance among Tea Party Republicans. This right-wing effort to call into question Congresswoman McCollum's Christian faith, her belief in God, and her patriotism is blatantly anti-American and all too similar to the extremists who earlier this year mailed a soiled American flag to her Congressional office and threatened the Congresswoman with violence.

Congresswoman McCollum rejects this radical agenda and condemns the extremist tactics behind this poisonous political exploitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

I'm reasonably certain that Congresswoman McCollum also believes that conservatives are responsible for the heartbreak of psoriasis, but we'll leave that aside. Here's the interesting part -- it turns out the this "MN04" person was busy that day. I found this passage on the NorCal blog. NorCal is the blog that found the original McCollum video and posted it. Check this out:

Then today I was given some information about a certain individual who has been making the rounds on the internet and spamming the blogs that have carried the video and written about Betty's disrespect for the pledge. This individual is using the name MN04, but the email address is ( a government address. So now we have a United States Congresswoman's campaign staff using official government equipment to attack citizens while doing damage control. Below is the comment that has been left on thousands of sites that posted the video of her disrespecting the Pledge of Allegiance on the floor of the Peoples House.

"Congresswoman McCollum has led the Pledge of Allegiance on the House floor several times before. Check out It's all there."

That is the exact comment I got on my original post. "Gate," the blogger at NorCal who wrote the story, follows the trail:

For any tech savvy individuals out there, here is the IP address { } from the computer that sent the damage control comment. It seems to have come straight from her Washington DC House of Representative office. Below are just a few of the places I found that are being hit with her damage control comment.

US Message Board


True North

MNCD4 Needs Change (I highly recommend that you read this guys letter to the editor of the St Paul Pioneer Press about McCollum.)

When I first attempted to check out the damage control site that was posted with her comment, I was first unable to get. Then I decided to drop the word "pledge" from the end of the URL they are passing out and I was able to get in to McCollum's official government financed web site. It's my guess they were attempting to throw me off with the wrong URL in hopes that I would just shrug my shoulders and forget about it. It is the same URL they have been using on all sites they are spamming with the message.

(Emphasis in the original. By the way, the True North piece was mine, as it was cross-posted at both Mr. Dilettante's Neighborhood and True North.)

Isn't that nice? So let's recap how Congresswoman McCollum has handled the revelation. She has:
  • Published an intemperate press release that suggests that anyone who criticizes her is "anti-American," "extremist" and "poisonous";
  • Posted that press release on her official government website, not her campaign website; and
  • Has someone in her office who decided it was a good idea to spam blogs, with government equipment, during office hours. And yes, it was during office hours, because the comment I received came in at 12:45 p.m. CDT.

Classy, huh? Now, it's possible that MN04 did these things on his/her own time, which wouldn't run afoul of the Hatch Act. Out of an abundance of caution, we'll assume that to be the case. It certainly would have been a lot better if they'd done this "work" outside of the office, though. And it would have been a lot smarter for McCollum to have ignored the video entirely. She didn't though. So it's a story now. And we'll keep following this story all the way to election day.

Cross-posted at True North

1 comment:

Gino said...

making politicians uncomfortable is a rightous act, mr d.

keep it up.