Dirty Tricks, Freedom Works and House District 56
By Paul Gable
Shades of former president Richard Nixon’s “dirty tricks” campaign tactics entered the S.C. House District 56 race yesterday when a door hanger, purportedly paid for by Dick Armey’s Super PAC Freedom Works, appeared on door knobs throughout the district.
The missive attempted to portray candidate Mike Ryhal as being open and forthright while portraying candidate Dennis DiSabato (pictured here) as refusing to answer five listed questions.
The first problem with this message is that DiSabato was never contacted by anyone, either by phone, mail, electronic message or otherwise, attempting to get answers to the questions.
Additionally, when Grand Strand Daily contacted the Washington, D.C. national headquarters of Freedom Works, we were told they knew nothing about the door hanger.
Ian Sheasgreen of Freedom Works said the organization had “no file” on either candidate in the race or on the door hanger itself. Sheasgreen further stated that Freedom Works tends to concentrate on national level elections. The organization credited with paying for the door hangar didn’t know anything about it!
Nixon was famous for his “dirty tricks” in election campaigns, beginning with his first run for Congress in 1946 against incumbent Congressman Jerry Voorhis, running through his 1950 senate campaign against Helen Gahagan Douglas and culminating in the 1972 presidential election against challenger George Mcgovern, which ultimately led to Watergate.
Nixon admitted that the truth was not a relevant part of his political tactics. He once told law partner Len Garment, “You’re never going to make it in politics. You just don’t know how to lie.”
We now appear to have the same political philosophy at work in an attempt to smear District 56 candidate Dennis DiSabato.
Ryhal is known to have the support of local Tea Party members who have some ties with Freedom Works. As a local politico said to me recently, “The local Tea Party leaders are political opportunists more interested in photo ops than getting any real message of positive change across.”
According to a source familiar with Freedom Works, the organization allows loosely affiliated local representatives to determine which candidates will be supported on the local level. However, using a locally generated door hanger, one that is not even known about at the national headquarters of the organization supposedly paying for it, is pushing the envelope.
But, if you have nothing good to say about your candidate, you are left with only one choice.
View hangar here: freedom works