Fasten your seat belts...here's the drama behind the story.
This piece by Laura Vozella in WAPO gives a full accounting of someone’s political dirty tricks in the Republican race for Lieutenant Governor.
On the surface, GOP Lt. Gov. candidate Del. Glenn Davis (R-Va. Beach) is the short-term political beneficiary of the shady shenanigans by the mere fact he’s not involved and can stay focused on his jobs message.
Before the story broke, State Sen. Jill Vogel (R-Fauquier) was the clear front-runner in this race, and its difficult to project where this accusation by State Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) will lead, especially if he files a civil lawsuit.
But that is problematic because the false email in question did not state a fact, but instead suggested a “rumor was going around” that Reeves was unfaithful to his wife.
This is not the classic definition of defamation under Virginia law.
Vogel’s camp has vehemently denied the allegations of concocting the phony email and her campaign manager questioned why Reeves made the accusations to the Washington Post before coming to their candidate directly.
But Reeves disputed this account and said he gave the Vogels ample notice to work this out before going public.
The Reeves camp produced documents showing service of the subpoena was attempted Dec. 1, but was not delivered. A second notice of service was sent on Dec. 22 by next day mail, which was successfully delivered — but to an old address where the Vogels no longer lived.
Sources close to Vogel said she first saw the subpoena notice — which was from their Internet provider VeriSat and not Reeves directly — on December 26.
Reeves also claimed that on Dec. 29 a “well respected member of the GOP Senate caucus approached the Vogels regarding this situation in hopes of trying to resolve this issue.”
The intervention did not prove successful.
Sources with direct knowledge of the situation but not with the Vogel campaign told me that on Thursday, December 29, Reeves delivered Vogel an ultimatum through another respected caucus intermediary: personally apologize to the Reeves family about the contents of the email and have Vogel withdraw from the Lt. governors race and Reeves said he would not go public if she did so by January 1.
Sources close to Vogel then said Reeves modified his demands on Friday, December 30, again through a caucus member go-between and dropped his demand that Vogel drop out of the race, but still required her to apologize to Reeves’ family and condemn the email publicly by January 1.
But sources close to Vogel say before the state senator could consider the new offer, Reeves took it public a few hours after the new demand was made.
Laura Vozella of The Washington Post was contacted on Friday, December 30, by the Reeves campaign.
Vozella published her piece in the Sunday Post, on January 1, 2017.
Here’s the bottom line: Reeves is a former army ranger and one time narcotics detective. I don’t know about you, but I never mess around with former NARC detectives. It’s just a bad idea.
The bad news for Vogel appears to be the Google cell phone new account verification code text, which is tied to her husband Alex’s personal cell phone number.
But it’s still impossible to prove beyond a doubt that Alex Vogel had his phone at the exact time the text was sent.
The good news for Vogel is it’s hard to imagine why her husband Alex – a big money D.C. lawyer – would get involved in something as amateurish as this fake email scandal. Plus Vogel is an ethics lawyer, so she knows better.
“I am horrified by this and I am as upset as Senator Reeves,” Vogel said in an email. “Unfortunately, we only learned about this in the last few days and we are doing everything in our power to get to the bottom of it. We certainly did not send, approve or authorize any anonymous communications. We would never condone such tactics, nor would we permit a campaign employee or volunteer to do so on behalf of our campaign.”
Court is out – in more ways than one.
The key is how far Reeve’s lawyers will – or can — pursue this in bringing a civil defamation suit.
Vogel’s best hope is for this episode to dissipate into the blogosphere.
Reeves will have his say on the matter on my radio show Tuesday at 9:05 a.m.
Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper),
a cyber security guru who was copied on the original fake email, will give his assessment at 9:05 a.m. on Wednesday. Freitas is a Reeves supporter.