Chaos has engulfed the U.S. Senate campaign of establishment-backed candidate Leah Vukmir in the wake of a Breitbart News report that showed the candidate, in a fundraising letter to supporters she signed, lied about what kind of car she drives.
As Breitbart News reported on Thursday, Vukmir falsely claimed that she drives a “Ford” in the fundraising appeal. She actually drives a Toyota Camry. What’s more, two different campaign videos she released obscure the Toyota logo–in one, the Toyota logo on the steering wheel appears blurred in a video and in the other the trunk is left open so as to keep the Toyota logo off screen.
At first, the Vukmir campaign did not respond to any Breitbart News requests for comment on the original piece. Then, the campaign claimed it was not making an inaccurate claim, as a top staffer for Vukmir claimed she drove the car and that it was indeed a Ford, not a Toyota.
After the original Breitbart News story came out, Vukmir’s chief fundraiser Mary Beth Gahn said on Twitter that she has driven the car–and again falsely claimed it is a “Ford”:
Gahn is listed as the top fundraiser and point of contact for Vukmir on several fundraising materials, including for a fundraiser that U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan hosted for Vukmir.
But the Vukmir campaign, pressed again on the matter this time in a Friday morning radio town hall where the establishment-backed candidate faced pro-Donald Trump Kevin Nicholson, changed its story yet again. This time, the candidate herself admitted her car is not a Ford–but is indeed a Toyota Camry. Vukmir told local radio host Jay Weber that a “typo” by somebody who prints her campaign fundraising literature caused her to misspell “Toyota” as “Ford.”
Vukmir even evoked Andrew Breitbart to attack the accurate story on her lie:
I honestly think Andrew Breitbart is turning in his grave to think that this is what they have been, they have resorted to. Look it was a typo that was done by our direct mail vendor. We noticed it right away, but of course it had gone out. I think there was a local reporter that contacted us about it and when we explained it to them, they were like okay yeah that’s kind of dumb and that was months ago.
Vukmir also said in the local radio town hall with Weber that her two television ads show it is “pretty clear” her car is a Toyota Camry. But she did not answer why the logo was blurred in one and the Toyota logo was hidden from view by the open trunk in the other.
“I’ve had two TV ads that show my car, it’s pretty clear it’s a Toyota, I’ve put 77,000 miles on my car they see my driving up in my Toyota and as far as I know Toyotas were pretty much made in America as well,” Vukmir said.
Vukmir is backed by the establishment wing of the Republican Party, including people like Ryan and the state GOP in Wisconsin. Nicholson, her opponent, is backed by supporters of President Donald Trump in the grassroots. As such, Vukmir has failed to gain serious traction in the primary and has consistently trailed Nicholson in polling, including in a new NBC News poll out on Thursday that showed Nicholson up either ten points or three points, depending on how the data is read.
Vukmir’s campaign manager Jess Ward sounded off when asked for further comment on the matter from Breitbart News. Ward also threw fundraising staffer Mary Beth Gahn under the bus, saying her candidate’s chief fundraiser is “grossly mistaken,” as Vukmir does not drive a Ford.