Politics & Other Mistakes: Sub Rosa
Rosa Scarcelli is running for the U.S. Senate in 2012. Her husband is still running away from what he did in the 2010 gubernatorial race.
Scarcelli, who operates an affordable housing company in Portland, was a Democratic candidate for governor last year, finishing third (out of four) in the primary. On the basis of that stellar performance, she’s gearing up to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe.
As part of that effort, she’s writing a weekly column in the Bangor Daily News with a tagline that claims she “gained a strong following in the 2010 primary” (about 20 percent of the vote) and includes her old campaign website address.
Clever marketing. Maybe I should try that. Instead of wasting the conclusion of this column on a lame joke and an e-mail address, I should employ it to polish my image (“Al Diamon is more fun to have a beer with than Rosa Scarcelli – but who isn’t”) and market products (“Al Diamon Ale – Drink Enough and Even Politicians Like Rosa Scarcelli Start to Make Sense”).
But back to Scarcelli’s plans.
In an interview last October on WVOM radio, she said she was trying to improve a political atmosphere clouded with “hostility, frustration and pointed name calling.” Meanwhile, her husband, Thomas Rhoads, who lists his occupation as writer and researcher, was occupying himself as one of the anonymous authors of a website called “The Secret File on Eliot Cutler,” filled with hostility, frustration and pointed name calling aimed at the independent gubernatorial candidate.
In a December column in the Bangor paper, Scarcelli wrote, “Increasing transparency strikes me as one of the most fundamental ways to bolster public confidence in government, check corruption and promote fiscal responsibility.”
This was shortly after she told the Portland Press Herald she had no connection with the online attack on Cutler. “I have absolutely nothing to do with the Cutler Files,” she said, “and I haven’t even looked at the website.”
That would make her the only politician in Maine who hadn’t.
Oh, wait. In her WVOM interview, Scarcelli has an explanation for that.
“I’m not a politician, right now,” she said. “I’m real.”
Here’s what Rhoads told the Press Herald about the attack site: “I can unequivocally state that I am not the author, owner or creator of The Cutler Files, nor did I post any information on it or any other website …. I don’t know why my name is being brought into this. It’s pure rumor.”
He didn’t say he wasn’t the researcher who gathered the (mostly accurate) negative information. He didn’t say he wasn’t the guy who tried to peddle that material to a competing gubernatorial campaign for a reported $30,000. He didn’t say he somehow kept these activities secret from his wife, even though half the political junkies in Maine knew what he was up to.
Speaking of his wife, in her column after the November election, she wrote: “We are in crisis, our situation is only getting worse and the people of Maine simply can’t afford to waste another minute of time or an ounce of energy on divisiveness and partisanship.”
Or investigations into the identities of the Cutler File authors.
A couple of weeks later, Scarcelli was calling for a middle-of-the-road approach. “Having to appeal to voters from a broader political spectrum would both encourage candidates to embody more moderate positions than the extremes of either party,” she wrote, “and reduce the effectiveness of negative campaign tactics designed to energize their partisan base.”
Let’s get real. Scarcelli’s former political adviser, Dennis Bailey, has admitted he and another person he won’t identify (but who looks suspiciously like Rhoads) are behind “The Secret File.” Bailey has also confessed he lied to reporters about his involvement, because he was working on another gubernatorial campaign at the time and didn’t want to embarrass that candidate. In addition, Bailey has credited his unnamed co-author with doing the extensive research into Cutler’s moral, ethical and political shortcomings, a job that even Cutler has admitted was professional.
Scarcelli is asking the public to believe that while all this was going on, she was so busy managing affordable housing, doing radio interviews, writing columns and laying the groundwork for a Senate race that she never noticed her husband and Bailey were engaged in activities that directly contradicted a lot of what she was saying about transparency and avoiding negative campaigning.
I’m finding that just the slightest bit incredible.
What seems easier to accept is that Scarcelli, her spouse and her closest political associate are devious creatures, intent on enhancing her image as a moderate, witty and thoughtful outsider, while simultaneously conducting clandestine attacks on anybody who stands in her way.
Which leads me to wonder: How long before we see a website called “The Secret File on Olympia Snowe”?
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