It’s no secret that Donald Trump has singlehandedly caused the level of political discourse in this country to fall below the floor. The latest example comes from a group of College Republicans in Ohio. They seem to have gotten the bright idea to send fundraising emails calling Democrats “domestic terrorists.” They’re trying to talk their way out of it–but their explanation doesn’t pass the smell test.
It’s been amply established that Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become the Republicans’ main pet hate. But all too often, the vitriol that the freshman dynamo from the Bronx faces goes several miles over the line. One of those times came earlier this week, when the Ohio College Republican Federation blasted out a fundraising email with a frightening subject line. Dave Levinthal of the Center for Public Integrity flagged it on Wednesday afternoon.
Not surprisingly, AOC hit the ceiling.
AOC was referring to how she and another member of her “squad” of progressive women of color, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, have been bombarded with death threats in their first three months in office.
Within hours–almost no time at all in social media terms–the torrent of criticism all but forced the Ohio College Republicans to apologize.
Later, the email’s nominal signatory, OCRF chairman and University of Dayton senior Tom Ferrall, told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer that the email was sent by the OCRF’s now-former fundraising firm without its knowledge or authorization. Specifically, Ferrall said, the firm was not allowed to send out any emails until he personally reviewed and approved them.
Ferrall said he and his College Republican colleagues had no role in drafting the email. Indeed, he said that he didn’t even know the email existed until his Twitter feed lit up about it. When he demanded an explanation, they didn’t offer anything more than some “boilerplate” response about how they try to “maximize our donations by sending out some provocative subjects.” When Ferrall heard that, he fired the firm and told them they would never do business with it again.
Ferrall added that he was “very upset” with the email, and reiterated the OCRF’s earlier apology for the “deplorable message.” He also plans to find out if any money was gleaned from the email, and intends to find a way to “rectify” it if it there was.
But much of Ferrall’s explanation doesn’t add up. For one thing, the email was sent bearing Ferrall’s name, even though it supposedly hadn’t been reviewed by him. Wouldn’t you think that Ferrall would have made sure that any email that had his signature was reviewed closely by him? After all, when your name is on something, your reputation is there as well. What’s more, Ferrall doesn’t know how many people received the email.
This is especially hard to believe, considering that Ferrall presumably knows how fundraising is supposed to work. While president of the UD College Republicans, he worked for Senator Rob Portman’s reelection campaign in 2016. He touted his work for Portman in his successful bid to become chairman of the OCRF.
In other words, this outrageous email appears to be the product of staggering incompetence at best. And when incompetence is the best-case scenario, that doesn’t speak very well for Ferrall and the OCRF.
Imagine if a College Democrats group uncorked a below-the-belt email attack on one or more of the House Republicans who lost body parts while in combat, and then tried to blame it on their fundraising firm. No explanation would be good enough, and people on both sides of the aisle would be rightly demanding that the group’s leaders resign.
This is no different. At best, Ferrall and the OCRF were disengaged in a way that they simply cannot be–especially since Ferrall has experience with a campaign that is reasonably competent. While they at least had the decency to apologize, Ferrall and the rest of the elected leaders of the OCRF ought to show some leadership and resign en masse.
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