House Speaker Robbie Wills, who lost a primary race for Congress in the spring, mailed letters to all state political candidates following the general election. He congratulated winners and offered praise to losers for trying.
When we say "all" candidates we mean "all." Wills sent letters to write-in candidate, too. One them, white supremacist Billy Roper, a write-in candidate for governor, posted Wills' letter on his White Revolution website. That drew the notice of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups. It commented on its website: "Wills may have been blithely unaware of Roper's malodorous reputation, but state and national media, as well as Roper's opponents, were well informed of it."
Roper is proud of his views and Wills' letter, which said in part, "It takes a special person to put their name on the ballot, and it says a lot about you that you had so many willing to help you with your campaign." Roper got 49 votes.
After the Arkansas Blog noticed the attention given Wills, he responded:
"Oh, for crying out loud. Yes, I sent a letter to every person who ran for office. But to suggest that that means anything other than that I appreciate the democratic process is just silly. After all, the ACLU has repeatedly fought to protect the first amendment rights of the KKK. That doesn't mean they — or you — endorse the substance of what they are saying. I don't endorse anything Mr. Roper stands for and have asked that he stop using the form letter to imply such on his website. Honestly, until the Southern Poverty Law Center contacted me, I didn't know that much about him or his extreme views."
Griffin's stunt backfires
Tim Griffin, heading to Congress in January to succeed U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder, managed to get himself featured prominently in a Wall Street Journal feature on freshmen Republicans who'll bed down in their offices to save rent and demonstrate they are not professional politicians intent on embedding themselves permanently in the Washington culture. Griffin said he'd shower in the House gym and spend every weekend in Arkansas.
Ben Smith of Politico wasn't unduly impressed. He noted Griffin's career, composed almost entirely of political work for the Republican Party and the White House and his controversial effort to wangle a U.S. attorney slot by deposing Bud Cummins. After reciting Griffin's resume, Smith wrote: "Which is to say — and this is perhaps more praise than criticism — that the sleepovers might better be described as 'the ultimate I-am-a-professional-politician stunt.' "