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Consulting firm quietly pushing Schock stories to reporters, DPI

Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015

* I started hearing about this story last week. I’m not sure there’s an Obama connection here, but there might be a Dick Durbin connection

A Democratic consultancy run by former top Obama campaign aides is working to place stories designed to stir up controversy over the personal finances of a House Republican leader.

The firm is working with other Democratic operatives who are trying to seize on a media frenzy that began with a humorous if slightly embarrassing Washington Post story about the Downton Abbey-themed office of Rep. Aaron Schock (R., Ill.). […]

Behind the scenes, a prominent Democratic consultancy run by former top Obama campaign aides has contacted reporters covering Schock’s tastes in interior design and offensive comments by his staff. The firm is pushing those reporters to cover the sale of Schock’s home as well. […]

The allegations originated at Blue Nation Review, a blog run by Jimmy Williams, a former senior advisor to then-Sen. Joe Biden (D., Del.) and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), whose leadership PAC has donated $10,500 to Schock’s Democratic opponents. […]

Democratic consultancy Smoot Tewes pitched the story to reporters. The firm is run by former Obama 2012 deputy campaign manager Julianna Smoot and Paul Tewes, a senior official on the president’s 2008 campaign.

Smoot Tewes consultant Gary Ritterstein, who has worked on numerous Democratic congressional campaigns, emailed reporters last week linking to coverage of Schock’s home sale controversy and encouraging them to follow up.

“If you’re interested, I’d be happy to get you on the phone with the folks who have been helping research the story,” he wrote.

In addition to the other connection, Julianna Smoot once worked for Durbin. But why would he care? I’m not sure who’s actually behind this, but consultants don’t usually get involved if there’s no paycheck or reciprocity involved.

* After i heard about this, I started checking around last week. An operative with the firm, I’m told, reached out to the Democratic Party of Illinois to ask what DPI was going to do to help push the Schock stories. The operative was told the party wasn’t much interested, but was given some names of reporters who might be.

The only contact I’ve ever had with the consulting firm was them sending me press releases over the past year promoting ethanol use.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 1:55 pm:

    ==consultants don’t usually get involved if there’s no paycheck or reciprocity involved==

    Someone is paying that bill.

    And it is not because they think of Schock as an afterthought.

  2. - Wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 1:57 pm:

    I figured there was some orchestrated campaign against Schock. Too many stories in a short period of time.

    But, like you said, it begs the question: who’s paying for it? There can’t be a reasonable expectation to flip that seat Dem. Why would they bother?

    Who stands to gain from Schock’s troubles?

  3. - sleepysol - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 1:59 pm:

    This is a case of the national party not understanding local politics. They see a R who might be vulnerable, and think they can pick up a seat.

    Meanwhile the local Dems realize that its basically a non-story and are ignoring making themselves look like fools.

  4. - Gooner - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 2:01 pm:

    Wordslinger, it may well be to get ahead of the game.

    Schock gets more than his share of mentions for Gov. or Senate. It is easier to knock him down now than to try to do it when he’s on the ticket for one of those two.

    If not, it seems to be a lot of effort aimed at somebody who, if pushed out, will probably be replaced by somebody holding similar views.

  5. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 2:06 pm:

    If you’re a DC based Democratic operative, chances are you’ve worked with Durbin at one time or another. Sort of like six degrees of Kevin Bacon. I have a hard time seeing why Durbin would want to target Aaron Schock.

    As others have noted, even if the Democrats successfully got rid of Schock, it’s not like a Democrat would get elected there. More than likely you’d get a more conservative GOP Rep, so it’s a silly idea for Dems to target Schock in my opinion.

  6. - Wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 2:07 pm:

    Gooner, by your logic, that would be Kirk.

    Well, Durbin’s been awfully good to him, according to Kirk, lol.

    We already know that Rauner said he absolutely, positively, Scouts honor, pinky swear had nothing to do with those attack spots on Schock when he was a mulling a run for governor.

  7. - A guy - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 2:12 pm:

    He raises a lot of money for the GOP. That in itself is a reason to dirty him up for them. He’s more prolific than most at filling the kitty. Embarrassing him makes that harder. They’re clever over there, yep.

  8. - MrJM - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 2:14 pm:

    “He raises a lot of money for the GOP. That in itself is a reason to dirty him up for them.”

    I believe this is likely.

    – MrJM

  9. - Gooner - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 2:14 pm:

    Wordslinger, it may be Kirk’s seat if it opens. It may be four years down the line for another option.

    But there are a relatively small number of people who are routinely mentioned for these spots and it seems like sound strategy to start the attacks early.

  10. - Western Ave. Doug - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 2:15 pm:

    The Schock attacks are more of a national dem strategy to bloddy up the GOP house. When they took over the house in 2006 they went after congressman like Mark Foley in FL and and Bob Ney in OH, and used that as part of the larger “drain the swamp narrative. Maybe Rahm Emmanuel is behind this?

  11. - Under Further Review - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 2:15 pm:

    I also recall Aaron Shock getting the shock treatment when he was rumored to be considering a run for governor. Is someone concerned that he might be seeking a promotion to the US Senate?

    There seemed to be indicators galore, ignored by the major media, that Rauner allies were stirring the rumors about Treasurer Dan Rutherford. In fact, the when the employee filed a lawsuit alleging harassment he used an attorney who was active in Republican politics in the suburbs.

  12. - Precinct Captain - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 2:17 pm:

    Plant stories now, have plenty of dirt to quote early and often later.

  13. - Precinct Captain - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 2:22 pm:

    ==- Western Ave. Doug - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 2:15 pm:==

    Yes, I’m sure Rahm is the one behind this! He’s got nothing else going on right now!

  14. - Western Ave. Doug - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 2:26 pm:

    ==- Precinct Captain - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 2:22 pm:==

    That was a joke! Rahm did the 2006 Dem takeover of the House. Geez

  15. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 2:28 pm:

    ===When they took over the house in 2006 they went after congressman like Mark Foley in FL and and Bob Ney…===

    Are you serious? Foley got a little too friendly with the House pages he was responsible for, and Ney went down with Jack Abramoff for corruption/bribery. The Democrats didn’t “go after” them, heck, most of the GOP wanted them gone.

    You’re comparing apples and bowling balls.

  16. - Wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 2:31 pm:

    Foley and Ney didn’t need any help to get in a jackpot. They were working on it full-time themselves.

  17. - Well then - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 2:47 pm:

    Unfortunately, Mr Schock has made himself vulnerable to these attacks, no matter who is behind them.

  18. - a Little Bird - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 2:53 pm:

    Let’s see: Who does Schock threaten most?? It was once thought to be Rauner and just coincidentally he was the victim of Attack # 1. What’s the next big race?? That would be Kirk’s seat. If you want to connect the dots between Rauner & Kirk look no farther than Rauner’s staff. They would have access to the Dem. org thru Rahm and/or Durbin who, although not running would not relish seeing Shock run v. Kirk. Oh what a tangled web we weave….

  19. - walker - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 3:12 pm:

    Slimy operatives continue to multiply.

    Another impact of the explosion of untraceable, unaccountable money in politics.

  20. - South Of I-80 - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 4:41 pm:

    I think the whole thing is a huge web of bs. Schock seems to be comfortable with staying in the House, Kirk will still run for Senate same with Durbin. Both will likely keep their job.

    The mystery in this whole thing is who is the mole in IL and D.C. the stories that are reported one right after the other is a setup like Rutherford’s ordeal in the primary or like baseball players who are accused of using performance drugs.

    At this point i think people want to move on because at one point, every politician who has a D or R next to their name and are from IL will be ridiculed over ridiculous things.

  21. - Carl Nyberg - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 6:27 pm:

    Schock fancies himself a candidate for Governor.

    From where Schock is, the only other positions that would be a move up are US Senator.

    Would Kirk go negative against Schock? Probably not without significant provocation.

    Durbin doesn’t care about Schock being a potential challenger.

    Do you see the DCCC or DSCC spending money against Schock?

    It really does leave Rauner as the only viable suspect.

    Why would Rauner be into inflicting pain on Schock? It’s a lesson for the Republicans in the General Assembly.

    Here’s the message:

    “I’ve got enough resources I can hurt someone like Schock just to demonstrate I’ve got the resources and will to inflict pain. Do you want to be my friend or do you want to experience pain?”

  22. - Meh - Tuesday, Feb 17, 15 @ 7:14 pm:

    The Post story and Cole story were both rock solid. Wasn’t it CREW that went after Jesse Jackson Jr. in a similar way? Hard to imagine Rauner doing it–wouldn’t he have to identify himself as the man behind the curtain for a threat/message to work?

    End of the day, of course, someone is doing it, but this fruit hangs so low that it could be a just-for-kicks thing on a slow skullduggery day to keep the operatives busy doing something. The thinking might be that the only good Republican is a tarnished one. Easy way for Schock to avoid it: Grow up and start acting like a public servant instead of an officeholder for life from a safe district.

  23. - SIS - Wednesday, Feb 18, 15 @ 3:37 pm:

    Why r everyone so concern w/Mr Schocks deco & a few other minute comments - I feel there is much bigger things to worry about than all these small things especially the one who is suppose to be r leader & he prefers golf than protecting the Christians & eventually us w/the burning & beheading of humans

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Reader comments closed until Tuesday
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