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Political Dirty Trick Won't Work

October 2, 2011
By MIKE MYER , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

No one in their right mind would believe Harry Marshall Rae.

But Earl Ray Tomblin and those in his gubernatorial campaign staff want voters to think they believe him. And they want voters to take the word of a fellow who has just been arrested on charges of extortion and threatening Tomblin.

It's politics, of course, of course, of the mud-slinging variety. I suppose we all should have seen it coming.

Tomblin, a Democrat, is West Virginia's acting governor. On Tuesday, voters will decide whether to keep him or replace him with Republican Bill Maloney. The last public opinion poll I saw showed Maloney gaining on Tomblin.

Then, with just a few days left before the election, Rae reared his ugly head. The Florida man was charged in U.S. District Court with threatening Tomblin and attempted extortion.

In e-mails, including some to Dean Miner of Wheeling, Rae claimed to have a videotape showing animal abuse in the training of greyhounds for racing. Miner is involved in greyhound racing. So are members of Tomblin's family.

According to the warrant for Rae's arrest, he wrote in an e-mail to Miner that, "To make this go away for you and all your buddies up in W.V., I'd like a contribution of $50,000 made out to a Boy Scout troop of my choosing."

According to the FBI, Rae also sought $22,000 from a greyhound racing group for the video.

Rae's arrest was based on more than the e-mails. Using a "confidential human source," the FBI recorded two telephone calls with a person who identified himself as Rae. The "CHS" told Rae he would "pay the subject a sum of money..."

But here's where politics comes into the picture: Rae's e-mails claimed the Maloney campaign wanted his video and was willing to pay him $100,000 and give him a two-year consulting job for the material.

Clearly, Rae's an excellent salesman. In order to "sell" his video to others, and perhaps to increase what he hoped they'd pay for it, he told them Maloney wanted it.

That is simply unbelievable for one very good reason: If Maloney was willing to pay $100,000, why didn't Rae take him up on the offer?

Because there was no offer. In fact, the Maloney campaign says they never had direct contact with Rae. He made one telephone call - recorded - to a campaign line, stating he had the video but not asking for money, according to Maloney's people. They say they never got back to him.

Again, you'd have to be an idiot to believe Rae.

Or a candidate for governor. Tomblin's people immediately jumped on the arrest, issuing a press release headlined, "Maloney Campaign Implicated in Extortion Plot."

They know better, but they issued the press release anyway. To my knowledge, no one in the press rushed to give the Tomblin release credence.

It doesn't deserve any. Tomblin and his people ought to be ashamed of themselves. They were so eager for a last-minute edge against Maloney that they want us to believe a man accused of attempted extortion. How ridiculous is that?

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