Jonathan Chait

Republicans' School For Scandal

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Suspicious doings at the Harvard Republican Club:

Michael W. McLean ’12 won an uncontested race for the Harvard Republican Club presidency last night after Luis A. Martinez ’12 pulled out of the contest while denying accusations that he forged an e-mail from the consulting firm McKinsey & Company to Harvard students.

Martinez said that McLean confronted him in Winthrop Dining Hall on Monday night, alleging that he was responsible for sending the e-mail (see here for text). The message, which The Crimson obtained yesterday, invited recipientsincluding several members of the HRCto a selective McKinsey recruiting event at MIT, which was to take place at the same time as the HRC elections last night.

If you read the whole story, it appears very, very likely that Martinez tried to steal the election.

Frank Foer wrote a memorable article in 2005 about the culture of the College Republicans, which basically is a training ground to teach future party operatives to cheat and smear each other:

Back in 1981, Abramoff and his campaign manager, Norquist, promised their leading competitor, Amy Moritz, the job of CRNC executive director if she dropped out of the race. Moritz took the bait, but it turned out that Abramoff had made the promise with his fingers crossed. Norquist took the executive director job and named Moritz his deputy. That demotion didn't last long, either. After discovering the talented Ralph Reed, Norquist handed the Christian Coalition godfather Moritz's responsibilities and her office space. They placed all of Moritz's belongings in a box labeled amy's desk. Even 25 years later, she hasn't shed her role as College Republican doormat. Abramoff used her think tank, the National Center for Public Policy Research, to funnel nearly $1 million into a phony direct-mail firm with an address identical to his own. 

While College Republicans have a vague understanding of Abramoff's ascent, they all can recite the ballad of Rove and Atwater--the ultimate object lesson in how the Establishment strikes back. In 1973, Rove was the Establishment candidate, and Atwater, the original Sun Tsu-quoting College Republican, was his prime campaign operative. They spent the spring of 1973 crisscrossing the country in a Ford Pinto, lining up the support of state chairs--basically the right-wing version of Thelma and Louise. But, in point of fact, Rove was hardly the right-winger in the race. His two opponents, Terry Dolan and Robert Edgeworth, were. And, when Dolan threw his support to Edgeworth, Rove had no other alternative. He had to cheat. 

When the College Republicans gathered for their convention at the Lake of the Ozarks resort in Missouri, Rove and Atwater relentlessly challenged the legitimacy of Edgeworth's delegates, even if the evidence did not justify their attacks. Because of Rove's allegations, the convention ended in deadlock. In revenge, Dolan went to The Washington Post with recordings that captured training seminars where Rove boasted of his campaign techniques, including rooting through opponents' garbage cans and other forms of campaign espionage. The Post broke the story under the headline "gop probes official as teacher of tricks." The Republican National Committee chairman, one George H.W. Bush, however, didn't punish Rove for his less-than-high-minded behavior. Instead, he gave Rove the chairmanship and sent Edgeworth a scathing letter accusing him of disloyalty.

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