Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fact Checking The Tea Party's Real Ed Martin Website Conspiracy Theory

I shared my thoughts earlier on the Real Ed Martin website that raised questions about what Ed Martin knew about sexual abuse allegations while he was serving as a member of the Curia for the Archdiocese. I also pointed out that the Post-Dispatch is failing to ask basic questions about the issue. But there were still a couple outstanding issues in the tea party's ramblings on the subject that needed to be addressed.

First off is the question of the timing of the payments. The Carnahan campaign has consistently maintained that they had nothing to do with the attack website and that the researcher Michael Corwin broke ties with them after they said they did not want to use this story because they felt it might offend Catholics. However, as noted by Jake Wagman, the group Veritas Research, which includes Corwin's partner in the project Jeannine Dillon, was paid $2,000 by the Carnahan campaign on Sept. 27. This led the tea party to accuse the Carnahan campaign of paying for the creation of the website.

However, Jo Mannies latest story for the Beacon provides an explanation for this fact. Mannies, unlike Wagman, spoke with Corwin about the timing. Here's what she found out:
Records show the duo purchased the domain name on Sept. 29 from GoDaddy for $12.17, including tax. That was two days after the Carnahan campaign paid just under $2,000 to Dillon's company, Veritas Research, according to the campaign's revised financial report filed earlier this week with the Federal Election Commission.

The money, said Corwin, had been owed to Dillon for months for expenses related to earlier research she had done for the Carnahan campaign. (Corwin earlier said the duo parted ways with the campaign in May or June over a dispute involving what to do with the information the researchers had collected about Martin's time with the Archdiocese. The Carnahan campaign didn't want to do anything because the congressman did not want to offend the district's Catholics, Corwin and the campaign have said.)

Corwin said that he and Dillon delayed purchasing the website name until she got paid, because they knew the Carnahan campaign would be upset if it learned about the site before it went online. Dillon feared she might then lose the money she was owed, he said.
That's strange, but still plausible. In fact, it's far more plausible than thinking that the Carnahan campaign paid a research firm $2,000 to create a website thinking that their public records would not be scrutinized.

The second part of the tea party conspiracy theory points out that Carnahan volunteer Teri Powers made the following comments on Facebook on Oct. 18, the day before the Real Ed Martin youtube video was created:
And how exactly did you, Chubby Checker, aid victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by priests when you worked for the Archdiocese? (note that the Activist Hub blog does not endorse the use of the term "Chubby Checker" to refer to Ed Martin)
The implication is that the Carnahan campaign knew that the video was about to come out, and was "telegraphing" its release.

However, after doing some facebook research of my own, I found out that Teri Powers had been referencing Martin's time at the Archdiocese well before Oct. 18 (the day before the video was uploaded). In fact, she was commenting about his time there before the website was even a twinkle in Corwin and Dillon's eyes.

Here's Teri's comments from October 12:

And from October 1st, two days before Corwin and Dillon had signed a web-hosting contract:

And from September 3, 26 days before Corwin and Dillon had even purchased the domain name.

In other words, Teri Powers had been commenting about the Archdiocese repeatedly over the past year, and these comments had nothing to do with the launch of the website. The conspiracy theory that the Carnahan campaign had tipped off Teri who in turn just couldn't help but spill her secret information has no evidence to support it, and I'm pretty confident from speaking with Teri that it's false.

So, while I'm very happy that the tea party was able to feel real joy for a brief period of time, it looks like the fun is over and it's time for them to move on to their next conspiracy theory. Maybe there are some LinkedIn profiles that still need examining?

P.S. Thanks to Brian Matthews and Teri Powers for a helpful discussion about this. And major hat tip to Jo Mannies for her extensive reporting on the subject.

1 comment:

  1. The timing and motivation of the website's creators is, at best, of secondary concern and at worst, a deliberate distraction. The real issue is simply "What does Ed Martin know about predator priests and has/will he tell the public and the police information that can be used to safeguard vulnerable kids from dangerous predators?"

    David Clohessy, Director, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, (7234 Arsenal Street, St. Louis MO 63143), 314 566 9790 cell (