As 7S reported previously, Trumpian tactics of flat out lies followed by more flat out lies are evident at the heart of the Maryland Republican Party. More scandal related to this approach to politics emerged yesterday:
A legislative aide to a Frederick County lawmaker was fired after he was revealed Wednesday in a New York Times article to be the mastermind behind a fake political news website.
Cameron Harris, an aide to Delegate David E. Vogt III, R-District 4, previously ran the website ChristianTimesNewspaper.com, according to the Times.
The website published fabricated articles about things like thousands of ballots pre-marked to vote for Hillary Clinton in an Ohio warehouse, complete with photos stolen from other sources.
I guess the ChristianTimesNewspaper lied about the character of a woman and voter fraud in Jesus’s name. Harris also worked for Change Annapolis, an organization aligned with Gov. Hogan’s Change Maryland.
Del. Vogt’s initial reaction to the scandal’s revelation seems appropriate at first glance. He fired Harris and declared that he could not support such “dishonesty.” How we handle mistakes says much about our leaders and this was a good response.
At the same time, Harris’s statement that he did most of his work at a local Starbucks and Vogt did not know stretches credulity. Harris was not only Vogt’s chief aide, he lived in Vogt’s home until November 2016. While Harris managed Vogt’s failed congressional campaign, he created another defunct trickster website called delaneyforgovernor2018.com.
Harris issued a classic non-apology apology. This man who willfully misled people under the guise of religiosity wrote:
I apologize to those disappointed by my actions, and my wish is that I will be allowed to contribute my informed experience to a larger dialogue about how Americans approach the media, tough issues, and the manner in which we, collectively, will inform our decisions going forward.
Rather than taking real responsibility and saying it was wrong, Harris shifts the problem to “those disappointed.” If he really wants to “contribute,” he could start by owning his mistake and acknowledging that he is the problem, not the solution.
Such a statement makes it even harder to accept the claim by Harris, a serial liar, that Vogt knew nothing about Harris’s activities. It means that Vogt had no inkling that someone who he saw at work and lived in his house was undertaking dishonest activity that resembles that done on behalf of his own campaign and is a central thread of his character and work.
For now, I’ll give this ex-marine the benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t look ideal–and appearances matter in politics–but that’s not the same as it happened. And Vogt’s response, at least once the information went public, was the right one.
Just don’t ask me to give much credence to Vogt’s claims in future on national security or other issues. Not only did Del. Vogt support Trump, a man who seems ready to align our foreign policy with the authoritarian leader of a declining mid-rate power opposed to the U.S., but he failed in assessing character–or the total lack of it–in his own office.