Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Good Night Nurse

The mailbox is blowing up this evening with comments and links to Mark Souder's press release where he officially withdraws his endorsement. Congressman Souder has gone out of his way to extend the news cycle on this. This is beyond politics - it's personal now. There's no way to spin this for the Kelty campaign, this is bad, bad news. The amateurs running the campaign are learning a valuable but old lesson - if you mess with the bull you get the horns. They can argue with Souder on policy positions but at the end of the day if he wants to bury you as a Republican candidate then you might as well start digging your grave. Looks like the dead body found under the GOP outhouse on the infamous Kelty cake was simply a metaphor for Kelty's candidacy...

OCTOBER 16, 2007
(260) 579-7279


U.S. Rep. Mark Souder released the following statement this evening:

Because of a number of calls from Matt Kelty supporters asking for a clarification of my position, as well as repeated media requests, I offer the following detailed explanation. Other than the original endorsement of Nelson Peters, and the post-primary endorsement of Matt Kelty, I have initiated no other comments.

I endorsed Nelson Peters for mayor because I felt he would be a conservative mayor and he could unite the city. Nelson lost.

Because I was the senior elected Republican in the city, because I was a long-time friend of Matt Kelty, and because I shared his conservative views—after he was cleared by the election board and before he was indicted—I felt it was important to endorse him, even though few other elected Republicans have done so.

The only "pressure" I have received because of any of my comments has been from Kelty supporters. These comments have generally been accompanied by non-subtle threats to wreck my political career. No other Republican Party official or anyone opposed to Kelty has pushed me to act.

In Washington, the filing of campaign charges has been used as a political weapon to discredit opponents. Unfortunately, more often than not the charges have proven to be true. But that's not the case for them all—some have been unjustly smeared.

In my opinion, prosecutor Karen Richards had no choice but to make a referral to a special prosecutor when the case came before her. Since she had endorsed Peters, no one would have seen any decision she made as fair.

Dan Sigler, though a former Democrat prosecutor, was elected in a very conservative county (Adams) with widespread Republican support. He had long had a reputation for fairness. It would have been hard to find any current or past prosecutor who would not have been criticized by someone. Dan Sigler is about as close to non-partisan as exists in our region.

When I endorsed Kelty, I was upset that what had appeared to be a fairly cut-and-dried case was dragging on. The election board heard the basic facts. It seemed to me that the case should have been decided prior to Labor Day. I suggested that a drawn-out case, constantly trumpeted by the media, was potentially political harassment. It was suggested, and I agreed, that a good prosecutor can persuade a grand jury to indict in most cases where a legitimate debate exists. Indictment is not guilt.

Before endorsing Matt, I made it clear to him that I questioned both the cost of the Zogby poll and whether he tried to get around campaign laws. But, based on his word, I did believe that, whatever his motives were, he had followed the law. The opinion of my longtime friend Jim Bopp also helped persuade me.

When I learned the specifics of the seven felony counts and two misdemeanors, it became clear that the case was a lot more complicated than it had at first appeared. The indictments were substantial, not superficial. Two were for felony perjury. They involved two individuals associated with prominent security firms, Don Willis and Fred Rost, whose testimony convinced the grand jury that Matt Kelty had perjured himself.

Shortly after the indictments were released, Jeff Neumeyer of Indiana's News Center asked me if I regretted my endorsement. Not all of my comment was aired. I said that I gave the endorsement prior to the indictments (which was not aired), and that I didn't regret it (which was aired). In other words, I did what I felt was best at the time.

Again in September, Indiana's News Center asked me how I felt about the Republicans for Henry group since I had endorsed Matt Kelty. Once again I pointed out that I had endorsed Matt before he had been indicted (not aired), and that each Republican had to make up his or her own mind (which was aired).

Then, a week ago, Sylvia Smith of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, followed by Indiana's News Center and WANE-TV, asked me more directly about my endorsement and whether it remained in effect.

In addition to the above, I explained that an increasing number of defectors from the Kelty campaign claimed that people within the campaign, and the candidate himself, continued to make disparaging remarks about me and attacked my friends.

Those active in the Kelty campaign had portrayed Cathy Hawks as a terrorist, Dr. John Crawford as a Nazi, smeared the character of Ken Neumeister, and portrayed Prosecutor Richards as a witch, just to name a few.

After declining to tape a radio commercial, and after refusing all requests to support the Kelty campaign since the indictments, the Kelty campaign nevertheless mailed out my earlier endorsement without even the courtesy of asking me or the common decency even to inform me.

Each Fort Wayne voter, including myself, has to make up his or her mind about the substance of the indictments, the character of the candidates, and the importance of the issue differences.

My vote will be private. But because I had previously been one of the only elected Republican officials to endorse Matt Kelty publicly, the questions kept coming about whether that endorsement still stood. For the stated reasons, my endorsement of Matt Kelty does not stand.


Phil Marx said...

Souder says "Each Fort Wayne voter, including myself..."

When did he move to Fort Wayne?

Jeff Pruitt said...

I get your point but he is a registered voter here