State Sen. Robert Hurt’s campaign against Rep. Tom Perriello (D) in Virginia’s 5th Congressional district is hitting a new snag, with an independent tea party challenger accusing his team of foul play. Jeffrey Clark, who calls Hurt too moderate, is charging that a Hurt operative leaked some unflattering stories about Clark’s finances to the local paper.
Clark, a tea party type running as a third-party candidate this fall, suggested in a television interview that Hurt’s consultant Chris LaCivita is behind recent news stories about Clark’s 1993 bankruptcy due to unpaid medical bills. He told supporters in an email that he was told the same packet of information would be leaked to the Daily Progress in Charlottesville if he didn’t end his potentially spoiling bid. Clark is offering to drop his campaign now if the person who told the paper his financial details comes clean in the next day.Clark told WDBJ he is willing to stop running “if someone will step forward and show that they have no connection at all to either political party or any partisan organization,” because he’s confident the Hurt campaign is involved.
LaCivita, of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth fame, did not respond to TPM’s requests for comment. But Hurt spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg told WDBJ:
“Yesterday it was the tea party, today it’s us, tomorrow it will be the CIA. We will not engage in Jeff Clark’s delusional speculation of who done it. This campaign has always been about Congressman Perriello and his support of higher taxes, runaway spending, and a failed stimulus that hasn’t created jobs. We will continue to be focused on spreading Robert Hurt’s positive message of limited government, fiscal responsibility, and pro-job growth policies.”
In an email to supporters yesterday, Clark addressed the article on his finances and detailed a rebuttal to some of the claims on his Web site. But he also said that someone threatened to release the financial information to the press if he remains in the race:
I would like the citizens of the 5th district to know the background of this packet of information. I first learned of this information several weeks ago. I was presented this information and was informed that it did not have to become public if I reconsider my position and dropped out of the race.
I received a call from Brian McNeill at the Daily Progress early last weeks he informed me that a packet was delivered to him under conditions of anonymity. He said the report contained roughly 100 pages and that some the information included my social security number as well as other private information.
I knew full well, when I left the meeting several weeks ago that this information was going to be made public. I do not hold any ill towards any individuals that may have compiled this information. I would also like to say I do appreciate the professionalism and tact shown by Mr. McNeill in how the information was presented. However, I think that it is important for transparency sake to let the people of the 5th district know exactly who was involved in gathering, paying for, and disseminating the information so the voters of the 5th district can judge for themselves the intentions behind the distribution of the material.
Clark insisted in his email, “I want to make this clear I am not considering dropping out of the race because this information was made public. I knew this was coming and I am not one to run from a fight.”
Watch his WDBJ interview: