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Tom Perriello: Smear Campaign Run by Operatives Tied to Northam Allies Is Running Attack Ads and Mailers With Secret Donors

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From the Tom Perriello for Governor campaign:

Tom Perriello: Ralph Northam Should Demand Shady Pro-Northam Group Disclose Its Secret Donors in Next 24 Hours

Smear Campaign Run by Operatives Tied to Northam Allies Is Running Attack Ads and Mailers With Secret Donors

Today, Tom Perriello is calling on Ralph Northam to demand that the shady, pro-Northam group paying for attack ads and mailers disclose their donors in the next 24 hours. Despite Northam’s comments opposing the negative campaign, his allies’ attack ads remain online — and on Friday, the Richmond Times-Dispatch confirmed it had distributed false mailers to Virginia voters.

“This ‘swiftboat’-style negative campaign is being financed by secret donors in the final days of this primary. The lieutenant governor has failed to shut down these ads to meet his positive campaign pledge; he at least needs to demand this group disclose its donors in the next 24 hours,” said Tom Perriello. “As voters make up their minds before heading to the polls Tuesday, they deserve to know whether his top allies are bankrolling these attack ads in the closing days of this primary. In this campaign, Ralph has rightly called for more transparency of money in politics, so I hope he will take this opportunity to shine a light on the secret money financing this last-minute negative campaign on his behalf.”

Without action now, the group may not be required to disclose its donors until July, well after the conclusion of the primary — effectively making this PAC’s activity funded by secret sources for the duration of this campaign.

Northam has been tied to questionable financial activity in his prior campaigns. In his highly-competitive 2013 primary for lieutenant governor against Aneesh Chopra, during which clean energy and coal were a flashpoint between the candidates, Northam was able to simultaneously raise money into his LG and Senate campaign accounts. But his Senate campaign was not required to disclose its donors until July 15 of that year — more than a month after the LG primary concluded. During that period before the primary’s conclusion, Northam accepted thousands of dollars from Dominion and coal companies in his Senate account, then transferred more than $20,000 from it to his LG account free from disclosure during the primary. 

Northam has also previously embraced controversial campaign tactics — both in this race and in prior races. In this campaign, The New Republic reported that Northam’s campaign had sent operatives and staff to Perriello’s town halls to ask disruptive questions.

In his initial run for State Senate, Northam engaged in a widelyreported negative campaign, with the Virginian-Pilot calling his mailers “contemptible” and saying his campaign was “beginning to insult the intelligence of the voters in the district.” In fact, after his negative campaign, Northam even told the Pilot he “succumbed to pressure from political operatives to go negative and regrets having done so.” The Pilot continued: “‘I was told that in order to be elected, I had to be negative,’ he said. ‘I had people, especially toward the end of the campaign, telling me, ‘This isn’t like you. Why are you doing this?’ That bothered me.’ He apologized to [his opponent].”

“If the lieutenant governor wants to hold himself up as a champion of clean campaigning, he won’t let history repeat itself in the closing days of this campaign,” added Ian Sams, Perriello’s communications director.

As of Saturday morning, the attack ads remained active online, having earned more than 24,000 views.