I have been following Virginia politics for about 30 years now. And I can say without any doubt that the dirtiest politician I ever saw was Don Beyer. I never saw a politician so willing to get in the gutter to fight dirty. He has no compunction about a dishonest attack.
Most people, and even a plurality of politicians have qualms about getting in the gutter to win a contest, safe to say Don Beyer never had that problem.
In 1989 a young and inexperienced, and some would say unqualified, Don Beyer ran for Lt. Governor. With his Dad’s money and the abortion issue to run on, Don ran what has to be one of the most negative campaigns in Virginia history. His opponent was state senator Eddy Dalton.
Eddy was, and is, a lovely lady, in addition to being a state legislator she was also a former First Lady of Virginia. Beyer portrayed her as an extremist who wanted rape victims to be forced to carry the rapists baby to term. His ads were so over the top that they made some Democrats cringe. Well, sadly Beyer won.
After two terms as Lt. Governor Democrats nominated Beyer for Governor. Beyer’s opponent was Virginia Attorney General James Gilmore.
Beyer fell behind by Labor Day and realized that to win he had to take the low road-no problem there. So, he decided to claim that Gilmore was soft on crime. A tough case to make since Gilmore was a prosecutor. As Henrico’s Commonwealth Attorney Gilmore oversaw an office that prosecuted hundreds, possibly thousands of criminals.
In an effort to smear and distort Gilmore’s record Beyer found the most salacious cases and used them to paint a false narrative. He found instances of rapists and robbers and other miscreants getting plea deals. Surely Beyer argued that this proved that Gilmore was weak on crime.
Beyer then sandbagged Gilmore. He waited to spring his attack during a statewide debate, knowing Gilmore would not be familiar with all those cases without reviewing the files.
Plea deals are part of the judicial system and they vary with each case. Beyer knew that but didn’t mind trying to create a false impression about Gilmore’s record as a prosecutor.
For Gilmore to go back and look at those cases and respond in the media would no doubt cause grief for the families to have to go back through the details. And Beyer knew that by the time Gilmore responded to each case the media would have lost interest. Damage done! It was a dishonest attack on Gilmore’s record and Beyer knew it.
Well, fortunately for Virginia Don Beyer lost the race to Jim Gilmore. And I thought Beyer was done. But he had other ideas. He stayed in the 8th congressional district and waited for Jim Moran to retire. I must say I kind of miss Jim Moran. Sure he may have been a crook, and sure he was a liberal, but as long as there wasn’t too much alcohol running thru his veins he could be a charming man. Beyer has none of Moran’s charm. Beyer is just venial and mean.
And now Beyer continues his trek on the low road of politics.
His latest target for distortion? EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Beyer sent this tweet out over the weekend:
The latest outrage is the news that Scott Pruitt secretly worked out a special deal on condo rent with an industry lobbyist who represents companies regulated by the EPA.
Pruitt is from Oklahoma and has a family there, so when he is in Washington he rents a room in a couple’s condo for 50 dollars a night. How can that possibly be unethical? It is not.
Washington DC is a company town and the company is the Federal government. Virtually everyone in DC has a connection to a Federal agency, a lobbyist or Congress. I suppose Pruitt could sleep on a park bench in Lafayette park, but he wanted a warm bed. And if he did sleep on a park bench no doubt Beyer would claim that he kicked off a more deserving, and longer tenured, homeless person. I can see the Washington Post headline now:
“Trump Appointee Kicks Homeless Person Off A Park Bench.”
Beyer is trying to imply that since it was a “secret deal” and that the condo is owned by a “power couple” and since at least one of the owners “works for a fossil fuel proponent” there must be something corrupt in this arrangement. Nonsense.
What is a “secret special rent deal”? Not sure, but as long as the landlord knows what the rent is, and the renter knows what the rent is, you have a deal. A secret deal? Who else needs to know what the rent is?
There is no evidence of any wrongdoing by Scott Pruitt, just Don Beyer smearing a good public servant and trying to hound him into resigning.
Don Beyer takes the low road because that is the only road he knows.