Something is happening over here.
It appears that some one out there has decided it is time to target Independent Eliot Cutler with an attack site and oppo dump.
Cutlerfiles.com was brought to my attention yesterday by a high level staffer in the Maine Democratic Party, and buzz about the site has been circulating since then. It rather mercilessly attacks Cutler on three main issues: his residency in Maine, Thornburg Mortgage, Inc., and some supposed campaign lipstick which they are offering a rather humorous reward in response to.
I have reached out to a number of sources to see if anyone has the facts on who is responsible for the site, but so far no one has claimed credit or has any leads that have gone anywhere.
For its part, the site itself describes the people behind the venture:
We are a group of researchers, writers and journalists – unaffiliated with any candidate or political party – who are frustrated that Maine’s mainstream media is either unwilling or incapable of investigating the background and business connections of Eliot Cutler. The information provided here comes from a variety of reputable and public sources, including news articles, court and municipal records and other documents. While there is some opinion expressed here, the opinion is based on documented fact. Links are provided throughout this site so a reader can obtain most of the source material and decide for themselves. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
A very vague and cryptic description for a group so singularly focused on attacking Cutler. Researchers, writers and journalists? Sounds academic in nature from the description, but this site is not academic. This is a professional attack site. I should know – I make dozens of sites just like this.
The reason this site is important is because it is very obvious it is not just some disgruntled voter slapping together a site attacking Cutler. This is very obviously backed by a lot of time and work, including sourcing and research. This says to me that the people behind it are part of a group or campaign of consequence.
My initial suspicions were that it came from one of the party committees – either the RGA/DGA or RNC/DNC. Typically, however, due to the tricky nature of campaign finance and reporting disclosures, sites such as these include disclosures that reveal who paid for the site. There really would be no reason to hide this if it was one of the committees – no one would really care if they were the originators of this material.
Which means it is probably a professional job from seasoned campaign operative or group of operatives. The usual suspects who I know have done this before are directly claiming they have not done it this time (and indeed, one even suggested to me that some of the information contained in the attack site is false) – so our search will have to continue.
When I contacted the Cutler campaign for comment, Ted O’Meara provided me with the following statement:
So far in this campaign, Eliot has been repeatedly attacked from both the left and right because he is a true centrist in a state that has always valued moderation and common sense over political ideology. He brings a broad range of experiences and a record of achievement and competence to this race that cannot be matched by any other candidate running.
Eliot’s campaign is based on bold ideas and a solid plan to change the economic conditions in Maine so that our state can attract the investment — both from within and outside of Maine — that will create jobs and grow our economy. No other candidate in this race has put forth such specific ideas to lower the cost of living and doing business in Maine, to restructure state government and to reform education.
One party candidate doesn’t think anything needs to change, while the other party candidate just makes stuff up and doesn’t have any plan or strategy for Maine’s future.
The Left is afraid of Eliot because he will change the status quo in Augusta that has benefited a few special interests while bringing our economy to a standstill. The Right is afraid of Eliot because he is the only candidate who can keep a radical Tea Party agenda out of the Blaine House.
The latest attack is different, and even uglier than what has come before. We don’t know who is behind it. All we know is that the people behind it are gutless cowards who have neither the personal nor professional integrity to put their names on the site or reveal whose agenda they are promoting. The content is full of untruths and half-truths, libel and slander.
Last December, Eliot put on his website, for everyone to see, the answers to a variety of questions about his time away from Maine, his legal and business career, and his time in Beijing, China (http://www.cutler2010.com/about-eliot/faq/). No one asked him to do it. No was attacking him then. He simply knew that these were questions that people might have and so he addressed them honestly and openly, and he has added to the FAQ since then.
That is the way that we will continue to conduct this campaign. As Eliot’s support grows, we fully expect that the attacks, the lies and the twisting of facts will only increase. That is the price you pay for having accomplished something in your life. That is the price you pay for putting big ideas on the table instead of just big talk. That is the price you pay for offering Maine people candor instead of candy.
Eliot believes that above all else, Maine people value integrity and fairness. This website has neither. It is much more a reflection of the creeps and cowards who created it than it is of Eliot Cutler.
Prior to receiving that statement, O’Meara sent me another missive in which he suggested that former Rosa Scarcelli Communications Director and current Moody for Governor consultant Dennis Bailey could be behind this. This suggestion of course, reminds us all of the bad blood between Bailey and the Cutler folks – namely the so called “Eliot Cutler called me a whore” incident. Obviously there is no love lost here.
Personally, I still have no idea who is behind it. I will keep digging into it (I already have the IP address they sent an email to me with) and will report back when I find more.
But the point here is that there is a large scale coordinated attack on Eliot Cuter coming from somebody out there who has the time, energy and interest to put together a professional (if simple) attack website on Cuter. This is more than just a disgruntled voter starting an attack blog on wordpress or blogger, and likely represents an uptick in the attacks on Cutler going forward.