Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ed Martin Has Problems Telling The Truth Again

Lost in the entertaining circus of Peter Kinder's inept crisis-handling was another excellent RFT post that seriously damages Ed Martin's congressional campaign. Of course, problems telling the truth are nothing new for Martin, who had to resign in shame while Chief of Staff for Matt Blunt, and has only been going downhill ever since. But this instance is different for a number of reasons and it sure looks like the evidence against Martin is compelling.

The basic story is that Martin was sued a while ago by a former employee of his, Jeanne Bergfeld, when he ran the Elections Board. The employee sued Martin for allegedly firing her because she "wasn't Republican enough." They eventually reached a settlement out of court that included a provision that Martin would not disparage Bergfeld.

However, in last year's RFT cover story on Martin, Martin said the following about Bergfeld:
Martin denies [that he fired Bergfeld for not being Republican enough]. "She said she was a Republican; nobody ever questioned that," he tells RFT, adding that Bergfeld was a patronage employee who had enjoyed "twelve years of not having to do anything" and who "wasn't interested in changing."

Martin concludes: "We did everything we could, appropriately, to have her do her job, but it wasn't in the cards."
Bergfeld promptly sued Martin for violating the settlement agreement. In Martin's initial court filing, he denied the charges. In a later deposition, he claimed he "couldn't remember." But the problem for Martin is that the RFT has audio recordings of the conversation, and it sure looks like he said exactly what they reported (although, I should note, I'd be more confident about this claim if they provided the full, unedited part of the conversation rather than separate sound bites). Even more disturbing is the fact that Martin appeared to have tried to pressure his former press secretary into making false claims on his behalf. Her statement
After the conference Ed pulled me out of earshot from everyone and asked me [to confirm his recollection that] the RFT reporter had divulged statements made by Jeanne and that only then did he comment. I told Ed I wasn't in the meeting he had with the RFT that day, and therefore did not know. That is when Ed looked at me with a stern, serious face and in a firm tone told me that that was indeed what happened.

Given the delivery of his comment, in my opinion, he was implying he expected me to go along with it and back him up in his statement. I didn't say anything at the time, but knew I would tell the truth.

I may have questioned a lot of things I had to write and put my name on while working for the campaign but I refuse to just stand by while someone, in this case a good, fair reporter, is unfairly called into question.
Of course, Martin being dishonest is not news to readers of this blog. But this situation is different because (1) a lawsuit is involved, (2) he's playing by a new set of rules now that he's competing against another tough and well-funded Republican challenger, and (3) it sure sounds like he screwed over his Republican press secretary. Even conservatives who previously turned a blind eye to Martin's ethical problems might have trouble brushing this story aside.

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