Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s presidential effort in waiting has made yet another questionable and anti-conservative hire, as former National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) communications director Brad Dayspring joins the pro-Walker Super PAC Unintimidated PAC.
Dayspring has a long history of anti-conservatism, and this hire is again hurting Walker’s reputation among right-of-center power players despite the praises Dayspring won from inside-the-beltway mainstream media types. But Dayspring isn’t reviled just by conservatives: lots of D.C. Republicans don’t like him either as he’s had a history of brash encounters with almost anyone he meets, even those supposedly on his own team.
When the news broke on Tuesday that Dayspring would be working for Walker’s Super PAC, Politico’s Mike Allen—who writes that publication’s morning Playbook tip sheet email—got the exclusive.
“Brad Dayspring has signed on as Senior Advisor to Unintimidated PAC, the super PAC supporting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker,” Allen wrote, after calling Dayspring’s hire a “big get” for Walker.
“Dayspring was part of the NRSC leadership team that helped win the majority and brings years of campaign, legislative and executive branch experience – plus hockey cred,” Allen added, before quoting Dayspring himself.
“Unintimidated PAC will play a large role in introducing Governor Walker … and his record of fighting for ‘big, bold, conservative reforms’ to primary voters,” Dayspring said.
Republicans have a field of strong candidates this cycle, but what makes Governor Walker so appealing to voters is that when push comes to shove, he never blinks. He fights and he wins— in a blue state, no less. When he promises to fight for them, they know he’ll actually do it and deliver results.
There’s perhaps no Republican operative from the establishment side of the party, however, who’s been more effective in eliminating conservatives nationwide throughout the movement in recent years—and Team Walker’s decision to bring Dayspring aboard just a few months after the similarly problematic Liz Mair was let go could backfire in a significant way. The 2016 GOP presidential primary is shaking out to mirror the larger fight inside the Republican Party—the conservative grassroots is hungry for a Washington outsider, while the establishment side of the party is more interested in attempting yet again to win a general election without the GOP base.
“Brad Dayspring is well known as a despicable establishment operative who specializes in slander and character assassination against conservative candidates,” Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel—one such conservative Dayspring personally frequently attacked—told Breitbart News exclusively on Wednesday. “He is the perfect example of why conservatives no longer trust the GOP. He’s little more than a paid attack dog, without principle and honor, the personification of everything wrong with our present political system.”
“Scott Walker appears to be a good man with solid conservative instincts. But his hiring of the unstable Dayspring is an insult to honorable political discourse. If Dayspring is aligned with Walker, then conservatives should be warned to look elsewhere for leadership.”
It’s worth noting that there is currently a legal firewall that prevents Walker’s campaign-in-waiting from coordinating with the Super PAC for which Dayspring has been hired. Several aides to Walker’s campaign-in-waiting, in refusing to answer specific questions about things Dayspring has done in the past and Gov. Walker’s thoughts about him, made that point repeatedly to Breitbart News during the reporting of this story. But it’s hard to imagine that Dayspring would have gotten the job had Walker been uneasy with him.
What’s more, a high-ranking source with another Republican presidential campaign tells Breitbart News that Dayspring was offered the job three months ago—around the time the Mair catastrophe struck Walker’s team—and Dayspring turned it down then. So, if true, Dayspring was originally offered this job when there was no legal firewall between the campaign-in-waiting and the Super PAC—and that the governor himself would have approved the offer.
“I hear they offered this gig to him 3 months ago and he turned them down,” that source said in an email. “He went back to them because no one else would hire him.”
Dayspring, didn’t answer questions sent to him from Breitbart News for this article. Neither did aides to Walker’s campaign-in-waiting, but that high-ranking GOP presidential campaign source’s thoughts about Dayspring were shared by several other campaigns as well.
“There’s a reason Brad Dayspring hasn’t found work for almost six months,” another rival campaign strategist from a different campaign told Breitbart News. “Nobody likes him. I wonder what Scott Walker thinks about Dayspring’s comments trashing conservatives and acting like a sexist pig?”
That last comment refers to when Dayspring called Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes an “empty dress” while working for the NRSC.
Dayspring left the NRSC at the beginning of this year in either late January or early February. It’s normal for political operatives to go for a couple months here or there with no work since they’re paid so much in the middle of a cycle. But to go as long as Dayspring has with no work is abnormal, especially when so many presidential campaigns on the Republican side are looking for talent—and when there are Republican majorities in both Chambers of Congress.
Dayspring’s most prominent role in a long history of working in Republican politics was for the NRSC as the communications director this past cycle. He was one of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “killers,” as one former leadership aide told National Review as the cycle began—and when conservative Matt Bevin was gearing up to take on McConnell.
McConnell leaned on Dayspring especially to brutalize conservatives running in primaries around the country. He was personally involved in taking down at least five conservative Republican U.S. Senate candidates, including McDaniel, who in total won nearly 900,000 votes combined but still none won. In Senate races, those numbers weren’t enough to topple incumbent Republicans. But in each of the states where Dayspring took down still-prominent conservative challengers—back in the 2012 election—the Republican who won them in the presidential primary did so with fewer votes than those conservative challengers won in the 2014 Senate primaries. That means that heading into the 2016 GOP presidential primaries conservatives who were maligned last cycle, including McDaniel, actually have a lot more power in terms of who they support than those in Washington might think.
Before Dayspring’s work for the NRSC, he worked in now former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s office and several other House offices after leaving the George W. Bush White House.
Throughout his career—from working for Bush to flacking for Cantor—Dayspring has shown himself to be a hothead and at times irresponsible. When President Bush and a contingent of reporters were flying to China in fall 2001 aboard Air Force One and a press charter flight following behind it, the Chicago Tribune’s Ellen Warren and Terry Armour reported that Bush’s press team accidentally handed out official presidential schedules with an incredibly offensive phrase about Chinese people on them.
“Embarrassed presidential aides hustled around Air Force One on Thursday, confiscating the printed schedules of President Bush’s trip to China just moments after they were distributed to reporters,” Warren and Armour wrote. “An Inc. source aboard the presidential aircraft tells us a White House aide explained he had to have the schedules back because ‘we don’t want anybody to get confused.’ The real reason: The schedules used the highly politically incorrect phrase ‘Chinese fire drill’ to describe Bush’s planned news conference with the Chinese leader. An identical schedule–without the offending phrase–was reissued on Air Force One and the press charter, where most reporters made the 18-hour flight between D.C. and Shanghai.”
A former Bush White House aide who worked there with Dayspring—then the Deputy Director of Press Advance for President Bush—at the time confirms to Breitbart News here, for the first time ever publicly, that Dayspring was wholly responsible for that mishap. Along with a litany of other questions for this article, Dayspring didn’t respond to Breitbart News’ comment request about this matter.
But it’s hardly the only time Dayspring erred while on Bush’s team. In late 2003, when a U.S. Chinook helicopter was shot down in Fallajuh, Iraq, as Dayspring worked for Bush’s re-election campaign, he was caught leaking information about it to the Associated Press and promptly fired after an internal campaign investigation.
The chopper getting shot down, veteran reporters Michael Isikoff and David Corn wrote in their book “Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War,” was a significant development in the war in Iraq.
“Sixteen U.S. soldiers were killed and another twenty wounded, making it the bloodiest day for Americans since combat operations had ended in April,” they wrote.
The insurgents’ use of a missile signaled that the United States was facing a more sophisticated and dangerous enemy. Iraq was now not only the number one policy worry for the White House but the biggest potential political problem for the up-and-running Bush reelection campaign. And within the Bush campaign it was an issue of great sensitivity.
So when AP reporter Scott Lindlaw called the Bush campaign’s press secretary Terry Holt for comment on the day the Fallujah chopper went down and mentioned that “he had previously talked to another campaign official, who had casually said to him—on background—that the campaign hoped there wouldn’t be more days like this one in Iraq,” the Bush reelection campaign went into a “panic.”
“There had been a stern directive issued to all the staffers: Don’t talk about Iraq at all,” Isikoff and Corn wrote.
Someone had disobeyed that command. The Bush campaign ordered its own leak investigation. All of the campaign’s phone records were reviewed. These records showed that one staffer, Brad Dayspring, a media coordinator for the northeastern states had been in phone contact with Lindlaw in recent days. Holt called Dayspring into his office and had the phone records on his desk. He could see there had been two calls—one to and one from Lindlaw’s number. Dayspring acknowledged that he had spoken to the AP reporter—but about a Pennsylvania steel issue, not Iraq. it didn’t matter. “This isn’t going to work,” Holt told him. He was being fired.
Dayspring, they wrote, was “stunned” because he had worked for Bush “for four years”—but his appeals to “campaign higher-ups” ended up being “pointless” because Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman “had signed off on his dismissal.”
From March 2004 to June 2005, Dayspring served as the media relations manager for the National Restaurant Association before he made a return to Republican government as the communications director for Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) for nearly a year. He then served for nearly three years as communications director for then Republican Study Committee chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) before moving into the office of then House Minority Whip Eric Cantor in January 2009 as a press secretary. He’d spend two years in that role before a promotion when Republicans took the House Majority—and Cantor became the Majority Leader—to Cantor’s deputy chief of staff. Dayspring became one of the most visible and well-known Republican staffers in politics.
But in this job, in which he lasted but a little under a year and a half, Dayspring found his way to another rough exit. “Heated Clash Led To Eric Cantor Aide Brad Dayspring Exit,” read a headline on Politico for an article by Jake Sherman, John Bresnahan and Anna Palmer from March 4, 2012.
Dayspring’s “sudden departure” late the week before, they wrote, “followed a heated, nearly physical confrontation” with another Cantor staffer over the “rollout of a jobs bill that’s set to hit the floor this week.” The other Cantor staffer, outreach director Mike Ference, “exchanged words” with Dayspring on Tuesday the week Dayspring left Cantor’s office and “later that day aggressively confronted Dayspring, almost getting into a physical altercation, sources familiar with the incident said.”
“Later that week, Dayspring did not attend a Cantor fundraiser in Richmond, Va., an event that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) headlined,” Politico wrote. “On Friday, Dayspring submitted his resignation.”
Dayspring left to go work for the Young Guns Action Fund super PAC which another ex-Cantor aide had started, something Politico wrote at the time meant “he’s still firmly within Cantor’s orbit.”
“Dayspring has been a lightning rod for controversy inside the GOP leadership for a long time. His strong advocacy for Cantor’s view frustrated other leadership offices, but the majority leader never wavered in his support,” Politico wrote, before highlighting yet another one of what it called Dayspring’s many “high profile flaps.”
“During a ’60 Minutes’ interview of Cantor that ran in early January, Dayspring interrupted the session when Lesley Stahl repeatedly pressed the majority leader on the impact of Ronald Reagan’s tax policy, a move that provoked widespread comment and criticism,” Politico wrote.
Dayspring stayed with the Cantor Super PAC until early 2013, when he took up a job as the NRSC’s communications director for the all-important 2014 cycle. Dayspring was undoubtedly effective, crushing conservative primary challengers to longtime Republican senators and helping Republicans take over the U.S. Senate. But his tactics throughout his career have been so brutal and personal, he’s become a larger-than-life personality in politics—someone who often overshadows whoever his boss is—and sometimes border on reckless.
“Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell likes to say, ‘If someone flicks a pebble at you, you hurl a boulder back at him,’” National Review reported in early November 2013.
His political team is just as emphatic. Some Republicans in Kentucky who flirted with working for his primary opponent, Matt Bevin, were told by the McConnell allies that they would get the “death penalty.” Another frequent warning: “Mitch McConnell doesn’t take prisoners.” McConnell’s team “shoots the wounded on the battlefield as a matter of course,” says University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato. A former GOP leadership aide who has seen the McConnell operation up close sounds terrified. “They’re all killers,” he says, without a trace of humor in his voice. “These are not guys to be trifled with. They are burn it down, p*** on it, then blow it up kind of guys.”
And so it went from there: Dayspring and his cohorts absolutely annihilated every single conservative Republican challenger to sitting incumbent Republicans or the establishment pick in one case, and then helped McConnell with the U.S. Senate Majority. Bevin was disposed of in Kentucky, state Sen. Chris McDaniel in Mississippi, state Rep. Joe Carr in Tennessee, Dr. Milton Wolf in Kansas and then retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness in Louisiana.
McConnell’s plan to take Bevin down in the 2014 Senate primary—in which Dayspring played a crucial role—was one that was also designed to protect all his incumbent Republicans from the fate of former Sens. Bob Bennett (R-UT) or Dick Lugar (R-IN).
McConnell’s ploy—cooked up by people like Dayspring and others in McConnell’s orbit like his ex-chief of staff Billy Piper, former NRSC communications director Brian Walsh, and former NRSC executive director Rob Jesmer—was to sink the conservative Republican candidates by attacking outside groups that support them or might support them.
Groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund, Heritage Action, Tea Party Patriots, Tea Party Express, FreedomWorks, the Club for Growth, Madison Project, Citizens United and more fell into this category for McConnell and his “killers.”
“If McConnell can crush Bevin, the thinking goes, he can expose a lack of ideological consistency in the outside groups, allowing him to separate Tea Party voters from Tea Party fundraising groups,” Sam Youngman of the Lexington Herald-Leader wrote in late October 2013 as Bevin moved in for his primary challenge of McConnell.
Dayspring included, several of McConnell’s top henchmen were quoted in the hometown newspaper article laying out the plan.
“Leader McConnell will beat his opponent because he is more in line with Kentucky Republicans and in doing so will send a message to the groups that purity for profit is a losing strategy,” said Piper.
“I don’t think it was anything to do with Bevin,” Jesmer, who said Bevin was just a “proxy” to take down the Tea Party movement, added.
“There is a growing sense throughout the Republican Party that unless folks start standing up to certain outside groups and exposing them for the frauds that they are, then Republicans will soon achieve permanent minority status in the Senate,” Walsh concurred.
Dayspring, Youngman wrote, had just a week before his article “engaged in one of his seemingly daily twitter wars” on behalf of the establishment cause with Madison Project’s Drew Ryun. He attacked Ryun because his father, former Rep. Jim Ryun (R-KS), supported various pork-barrel spending projects when he served in Congress.
“Pretending to be something u are not to raise $ must be hard,” Dayspring Tweeted.
Drew Ryun, in response to Team Walker’s decision to hire Dayspring, told Breitbart News that Walker’s priorities are out of whack.
“Clearly there is a disconnect for Scott Walker and his team,” Ryun said in an email.
The hiring of Brad Dayspring, an ethically challenged operative, makes me wonder how this happened. Not only is Brad’s history checkered with poor decisions, he was the NRSC’s attack dog against the conservative movement in 2014. Scott Walker’s challenge as he moves to the national stage is to prove he is indeed conservative, not a one hit wonder from 2011. This hire is not a move in the right direction for him.
It’s extraordinarily notable that Ryun of all people is criticizing Walker for this hire because when seemingly every other Republican—save for a few in the conservative media and a couple hardcore conservative activists like Ryun and his brother Ned—abandoned Walker amid wide-scale union protests in Madison in early 2011, the Ryun brothers organized a counter-rally at the state Capitol to back Walker up.
Andrew Breitbart, Herman Cain, local radio host Vicki McKenna and a handful of other conservatives spoke at that initial counter-rally—the only ones standing with Walker, and it’s from there that Walker stood strong and made it through the battle against the unions to give him the national profile he has today. Now, with decisions like letting Dayspring and others like him onto the team in an effort to fit in on the national political stage as he gears up to run for president, Walker could be headed in a dark direction where he loses that original flare that first sparked national conservative interest in him.
With Dayspring’s help—with a bruising messaging campaign against Bevin day in and day out, and severely nasty stories planted in local and national media—McConnell beat Bevin in the primary in Kentucky in 2014. But it’s not like McConnell got off scot-free. In fact, according to an analysis published by Dr. Eric Ostermeier on the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs’ Smart Politics website, McConnell fared worse than any other incumbent U.S. Senator in Kentucky in a primary in the last 75 years.
Ostermeier wrote that “McConnell’s 60.2 percent to 35.4 percent win over his Tea Party-backed opponent was hardly an impressive victory for an incumbent when situated in the context of Kentucky electoral history.”
“Over the last 100 years, a sitting U.S. Senator from Kentucky has sought his party’s nomination in 31 primary elections,” he wrote. “The only primaries in which an incumbent was not on the ballot were in 1914 (full term), 1918, 1946 (short term), 1950 (short and full terms), 1956 (short term), 1968, 1972, 1998, and 2010. The last time a sitting senator from the Bluegrass State registered less voter support than McConnell’s 60 percent was during a primary election 76 years ago in 1938.”
Bevin, of course, has now risen from the political dead just one year later to go on and win the Republican nomination in Kentucky’s upcoming gubernatorial election. Even McConnell had to endorse him. That’s quite a turnaround for someone who just got hammered for years by Washington operatives like Dayspring.
Bevin, in the 2014 primary, won 125,787 votes—almost 10,000 more than it took for Mitt Romney in 2012 to win Kentucky in the GOP primary. Having a staff full of people who were hatchet men against such a kingmaker in the state probably isn’t going to help any GOP presidential candidate get in their good graces—and may, like it appears to with McDaniel, backfire.
After Bevin’s primary loss to McConnell—and throughout that process—Dayspring turned his fire on McDaniel in Mississippi. It’s there Dayspring and his cohorts working to save McConnell and further the then-potential-future-majority-leader’s agenda were perhaps the most brutal, at one point siding with an establishment operative falsely accusing McDaniel’s campaign of being “full of criminals.” That operative, Jordan Russell—who served as Cochran’s on-the-ground-in-Mississippi hatchet man who at one point attempted to, in Cochran’s stead, bracket a McDaniel press conference at the Mississippi state capitol in Jackson—literally went to National Review to accuse McDaniel’s campaign of being “full of criminals.”
“They cannot keep themselves out of trouble with the law,” Russell lied about McDaniel’s campaign. “This is a campaign that is out of control.”
Dayspring, as NRSC communications director, promoted that National Review article where Russell falsely accused McDaniel’s campaign of being “full of criminals” to, among other media outlets, Breitbart News. He pushed the story hard—aggressively pressuring reporters to pursue a fabricated narrative that some people from McDaniel’s campaign were somehow engaged in any illegal activity.
What the allegation was based on was the fact that a McDaniel campaign staffer and a couple supporters, on the night of the June 3, 2014, primary, were found inside the Hinds County Courthouse after hours after votes were counted and locked back up. That night, the election was extraordinarily close—McDaniel won 49.5 percent of the vote and Cochran 49 percent. Since neither hit 50 percent due to a third candidate taking a percent and a half, it headed to a runoff on June 24.
Because just a few hundred, or thousand, votes could have swung the election and prevented a runoff entirely, McDaniel’s team—which were in Hattiesburg which is two plus hours from Jackson, where Hinds County is located—deployed to Jackson, a Cochran campaign stronghold with Cochran cronies running the vote-counting.
When they got there, the Cochran cronies—including Hinds GOP chairman Pete Perry, who was paid by Cochran’s PAC—were done counting the votes and the building was locked. Perry, who would later be involved in direct allegations from the Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Rickey Cole of handing out “walking around money” cash to black activists who traditionally back Democrats to get them to support Cochran in the runoff, had closed down the shop without reporting all the votes that were cast in Hinds County.
As Breitbart News reported from the scene in Mississippi, with interviews with law enforcement, party officials, campaign volunteers and more, McDaniel’s team—the one campaign staffer and several volunteers—were driving back to Jackson from Hattiesburg and talked to Perry via phone on the way there asking him what was going on. He was unclear about it all, and when they finally arrived at the courthouse around 2 a.m., they say a uniformed police officer—it’s unclear exactly who, whether it be city policy or the county sheriff’s office—directed them to a door on the side of the courthouse that was unlocked. They went downstairs to vote-counting room, and found nobody there. When they came out to try to get out of the building, they were locked inside.
So, the NRSC team—and Cochran’s campaign—claimed they were “criminals,” when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Two investigating bodies—the Hinds County Sheriff’s Office and the local District Attorney’s office—probed claims from Cochran’s campaign and its allies that were buffeted by Dayspring’s NRSC that those Team McDaniel players inside the courthouse were engaged some kind of untoward activity and found no evidence of any wrongdoing.
In addition to that instance of allegations of impropriety against McDaniel’s team by establishment GOP operatives including Dayspring was the instance where a blogger completely unaffiliated with McDaniel’s campaign named Clayton Thomas Kelly illicitly entered the nursing home of Cochran’s then-wife Rose then photographed her. Kelly then published the photograph in a video he put on YouTube, a video that disappeared shortly thereafter.
Kelly’s actions—and those of the three others who helped him—were universally condemned by everyone from all sides of the election. Law enforcement charged Kelly with various crimes, and three other men—two of whom pled out and one of whom committed suicide before he was able to make any plea deal or go to trial. Kelly has, more than a year later now, agreed to a plea deal in the case.
“[Mark] Mayfield was originally charged with conspiracy but committed suicide before his case was presented to a grand jury,” the Madison County Journal, a local publication, wrote about the matter. “[Ric] Sager was originally charged with conspiracy and evidence tampering. He pleaded guilty in late-2014 to conspiracy in exchange for pre-trial diversion. [John] Mary, the apparent orchestrater of the plot, was originally charged with conspiracy and pleaded guilty in exchange for five years probation.”
In any of these cases or more, nobody from the McDaniel campaign was charged ever with any crime and everyone from the McDaniel campaign who came under even suspicion of law enforcement due to cries from establishment operatives was eventually cleared of any allegations of wrongdoing by law enforcement. Dayspring, like the Cochran campaign operatives, never apologized for his actions against those innocent people.
There’s a key distinction, however, between what Kelly did and what Breitbart News and other media organizations uncovered about Sen. Cochran. Kelly was attempting to expose the fact—which has since been proven true by the senator’s own actions—that Cochran was not being faithful to his wife Rose, and was indeed having an affair with his longtime executive assistant Kay Webber. Kelly broke the law in looking into this matter, but Breitbart News and other media like the New York Times and more that reported on these matters did not.
Webber began working—on a taxpayer-funded salary—for Cochran back in the early 1980s. Years later, in the middle of their relationship while Rose was institutionalized for severe dementia back in Mississippi, Cochran moved into a home on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C, that Webber owns and listed it in real estate documents as his primary residence. Several ethical and legal concerns came up during the campaign—including the legality of the “basement apartment” that Cochran was supposedly living in at the home, as his team argued a distinct residence separate from where Webber resided—about the relationship between the two of them. That basement apartment claim from Cochran’s team prompted D.C. housing authorities to launch an investigation into whether what Webber and Cochran set up as their living arrangement was legal. In addition, it was revealed that Cochran used his position in the United States Senate to take Webber on at least 33 taxpayer-funded trips to at least 42 foreign countries. Each of these stories and more were reported by Breitbart News during the election.
Weeks after Kelly took his photo and put it online—completely unrelated to Breitbart News’ investigations, which were picked up by several major media outlets and throughout the state of Mississippi—he was arrested for the action. The arrest came after Cochran’s campaign formally pressed charges and turned over evidence it had been holding about the case for at least three weeks without acting on it. It wasn’t until McDaniel started climbing in the polls as Cochran slipped—and after Breitbart News’ investigations started coming out—that the Cochran campaign contacted police about Kelly’s actions to the senator’s wife.
Dayspring, at that time, in quotes to outlets like the liberal Talking Points Memo (TPM) attempted to conflate—inaccurately—what Kelly did with Breitbart News’ and other media outlets’ investigations and with McDaniel himself.
Noting that Dayspring was “explicitly and implicitly” attempting to tie Kelly to McDaniel, TPM quoted Dayspring in response to the news of Kelly’s arrest as saying: “My only response would be that it’s disgusting and inhuman. For weeks, the attacks lobbed toward Senator Cochran have been ugly, and there seems to be no boundary that they won’t cross.”
While the politically novice McDaniel campaign had some difficulty handling the initial response to the Cochran campaign’s—and Dayspring’s—decision to use Kelly’s actions for political purposes with the entire national mainstream media bearing down on them, it has since been confirmed that no McDaniel campaign staffer or anyone associated with the campaign was officially involved in that at all. No McDaniel campaign staffer was ever charged, and the full case is now closed as Kelly has pled out.
Not only that, but as Breitbart News reported back then at the time, the reason why so few people even saw the photograph Kelly took is because the McDaniel campaign—upon finding out about the video on YouTube—put the word out to the grassroots that they didn’t want it up there. McDaniel’s campaign manager and fellow state Sen. Melanie Sojourner even provided Breitbart News with email evidence proving that not only did they not have anything to do with the effort by Kelly, but they helped squash it to protect Sen. Cochran’s wife.
Since the election, Rose Cochran passed away—and earlier this year Sen. Cochran married Webber, thus confirming everything Breitbart News reported about him at that time was true and accurate and what his campaign and the NRSC said to get him re-elected was not.
Even perhaps more shocking is that while Dayspring served as communications director for the NRSC, McConnell threw a fundraiser at the Capitol Hill headquarters—raising more than $800,000 for Cochran’s re-election effort. Dayspring, to this day, refuses to answer questions about that fundraiser—as do all the Republican U.S. Senators who were there, many of whom literally sprinted down the street away from Breitbart News as they were asked why they were donating to Cochran. Cochran didn’t even show up for the fundraiser—it was a complete NRSC creation.
Much of that money was likely used—though Cochran’s campaign, the NRSC and their allies at the Republican National Committee (RNC) refuse to talk about it at all in any form—in get-out-the-vote efforts for Cochran’s campaign. Cochran’s get-out-the-vote efforts weren’t just any normal such efforts, however. Heading into the runoff in Mississippi on June 24, McConnell—again, with Dayspring’s help—went “all in” for Cochran. Cochran’s campaign and its outside allies literally took cash—what’s called “walking around money” in old political parlance—and handed it out to traditionally Democratic voters in the black community throughout the state if they’d go to the polls and vote for Cochran in the Republican primary runoff.
While technically illegal, prosecutors can’t enforce Mississippi statutes because the requirement in the state’s primary elections is that to vote in a primary the voter must intend to vote for that candidate in a general election if such opportunity presented itself. Of course, those Democrats who voted for Cochran in the runoff did not plan to vote for him in the general election—and likely didn’t—but no prosecutor could prove intent or fraud on such a wide scale. Nonetheless, after Cochran’s team—which admits to this day that McDaniel won more Republican votes than Cochran in both the primary and runoff—got over the top in the runoff with Democrat votes, McDaniel’s team went ballistic and set off on a course to prove that the election was stolen.
Over the course of the next couple weeks, McDaniel’s lawyers gathered evidence statewide before publishing it all in a public document release which also came with McDaniel publicly arguing he technically won the election by at least 25,000 votes—which the evidence showed. Going through the appeal process, however, judges and the state legal system—packed over the years with folks loyal to the Barbour family and to Cochran—proved impossible. Cochran was re-elected.
But, for Walker’s presidential effort looking forward, if McDaniel is telling the 187,265 people who voted for him in the runoff to look at someone else other than Walker since Dayspring is on Walker’s team that could prove very problematic for the Wisconsin governor. Of course, when former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum won Mississippi in 2012’s GOP presidential primary, he only earned about half the votes McDaniel won in the runoff with 96,258.
After McDaniel’s loss due to the Cochran campaign’s ethically questionable actions with Dayspring’s help from the NRSC, the next primary up was in Kansas with Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) facing Dr. Milton Wolf. As he did to McDaniel and to Bevin beforehand, Dayspring engaged in vicious tactics against his fellow Republican Wolf. He spread harsh stories about Wolf all over the place in the media, and hammered Wolf day in and day out on Twitter.
Wolf won 107,799 votes, losing to Roberts’ 127,089 votes. Like in the case with the aforementioned states, Wolf’s 107,799 votes is significantly—7 times as much—higher than the number of caucus-goers to took Santorum to beat Romney in Kansas.
Then came Tennessee. There, the NRSC’s strategy—which was crafted, in conjunction with Dayspring, by Ward Baker the then NRSC political director—was to not directly attack Carr. Like Roberts in Kansas a couple days earlier, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) won re-election in the primary with less than 50 percent of the vote. Alexander, with 49.65 percent, earned 331,705 votes. Carr, the second place candidate with 40.61 percent of the vote, earned 271,324 votes. Carr’s total in 2014 was still significantly more votes than what it took Santorum to beat Romney in Tennessee in 2012’s GOP presidential primaries.
After Carr’s and Wolf’s GOP establishment beat downs, Dayspring bragged to the Los Angeles Times that the NRSC has taken a “workmanlike approach — methodical and thoughtful — to each of these campaigns.”
“It is entirely possible that we win 10 or more Senate seats,” in the fall, Dayspring added.
Then, after that, Dayspring and the NRSC—for good measure—backed one Republican instead of another completely viable candidate in Louisiana’s Senate race. Now GOP Senator, but then Representative, Bill Cassidy was running against now former Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) in Louisiana—but Republican Col. Rob Maness, a retired Air Force Colonel, was as well. Maness was widely viewed as the real conservative in the race, and Cassidy was the more establishment Republican.
“National Republicans won’t publicly entertain the prospect of a Maness rise, noting that with advertising prices about to skyrocket, it’s unlikely the already-depleted coffers of national conservative groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund could do much for Maness,” the Hill’s Alexandra Jaffe wrote before the election before quoting Dayspring throwing Maness under the bus.
“Dr. Cassidy is well positioned to defeat Mary Landrieu, who now trails him in the polls and in finances,” Dayspring said, completely ignoring Maness.
Landrieu may well have beaten Cassidy on election day if Maness hadn’t been there to force a runoff at the time—something Republicans in Louisiana understood, but Republicans in Washington like Dayspring didn’t.
“[Attacking Maness is] not going to be helpful,” one such Louisiana Republican operative told Jaffe for her article. “That’s just going to feed their whole scenario of some big establishment cabal working against them,” the operative said. “I don’t see a scenario where we come out and do some of the attacking. … We’re going to need the Maness supporters in the runoff, so you don’t want to go in and offend them.”
With Maness pulling 202,556 votes—or about 14 percent of the electorate—in the jungle primary against Cassidy and Landrieu, that’s more than double what Santorum got to win Louisiana in the 2012 presidential primaries.
So, now, with top conservatives in many of these states—and more, like Iowa, upset about the Dayspring hire, it remains to be seen what Walker’s team will do moving forward.
“The saying ‘personnel is policy’ is more true today than ever before, if you look at the incestuous batch of GOP hack consultants whose only specialty seems to be advancing the Democrat agenda/talking points with a Republican jersey on,” Steve Deace, a nationally-syndicated radio host based in Iowa, said in an email when asked about Dayspring joining Walker’s team.
Now, I doubt any candidate is going to be completely clean on the personnel front, just because the fecklessness of the GOP consultant/lawyer class is so systemic there’s probably not enough untainted bodies to go around. So what we need to be looking for is what kind of influence does a bad hire have? Is that snake being hired just so he/she can’t be used against you someplace else? Is he/she influencing the candidate to go soft? However, in the case of Walker this is not an isolated incident. We already had the Liz Mair fiasco, and plenty of pro-lifers I know are very concerned his top campaign guru is in favor of killing pre-born children. Walker has a record of accomplishment in Wisconsin that can’t be taken away from him, but I can tell you for a fact there are plenty of conservative leaders who remain skeptical because of mixed signals like this.
The “top campaign guru” Deace is referring to is likely Walker campaign manager Rick Wiley, who—as Breitbart News has previously reported—personally supports abortion.
With national conservatives like ForAmerica’s Brent Bozell similarly furious, it’s not likely to help Walker. Bozell even called Dayspring a “cretin.”
“Gov. Walker should have known better than to hire Brad Dayspring, the worst GOP anti-conservative hit man in Washington. Brad Dayspring has a despicable record using character assassination to besmirch the reputations of conservative candidates and public policy leaders,” Bozell said in a statement on Wednesday. “He’s paid to do the ugly work of the Washington establishment. He is the personification of everything that’s wrong in politics today. Gov. Walker, people are policy. If you want conservatives’ support, you need to get rid of this cretin immediately.”