Thursday, October 7, 2004

Davis copied GOP answers


Clooney camp mocks questionnaire response

By Patrick Crowley
Enquirer staff writer

ERLANGER - The congressional campaign of Nick Clooney has long tried to portray Geoff Davis as a pawn of the GOP establishment in Washington.

Davis, a Boone County Republican, appears to have handed Clooney some more fodder for those attacks.

Davis' campaign has admitted it copied answers for an American Association of Retired Persons voter guide from material provided by the National Republican Congressional Committee. The committee, based in Washington, raises money and campaigns for GOP candidates to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Justin Brasell said in an interview that he submitted the material on behalf of Davis when answering questions about Social Security and health-care costs.

"But those are our positions," Brasell said. "If there would have been something in there we didn't agree with, we never would have used it."

The campaign of Clooney, an Augusta Democrat, said the maneuver shows that Davis will not be an independent representative of the 4th Congressional District.

"I knew folks in Washington were going to tell Geoff Davis how to vote," said Clooney campaign manager B.J. Neidhardt, "I had no idea they filled out his questionnaires for him also.

"I think Geoff Davis missed an opportunity to tell the seniors of the 4th District how he felt about issues," Neidhardt said.

Davis wasn't the only Republican to copy the answers. GOP candidates from four other states - California, Florida, Nebraska and Georgia - did the same.

One congressional campaign that admitted to copying the Republican group's sample answers said it was a bad idea.

Brian Kelley, campaign manager for Florida state Rep. Bev Kilmer, a challenger to U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd, said he will ask the staff member who copied the answers to explain his actions.

Although the National Republican Congressional Committee "hit the nail on the head" with its points, Kelley said, "it's not a best-practice technique to just take everything the NRCC gives you."

AARP spokesman Steven Hahn said the questions in the voter guide are intended to allow candidates "to express their ideas in their own words," but the copying doesn't trouble the organization.

"We do understand there are a lot of candidates who will adopt a party position," Hahn said.

The survey results will be mailed next week to the AARP's 3.5 million members nationwide, said Nancy George, the group's national coordinator for voter education.

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The Louisville Courier-Journal contributed. E-mail pcrowley@enquirer.com




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