Over the past several days, the Latino Victory Fund’s vile and reprehensible ad depicting Virginia voters and Ed Gillespie supporters as racists who drive trucks to run down and hurt immigrant children has heavily impacted the Virginia governor’s race.
Ralph Northam’s campaign at first embraced the ad, which has faced heavy criticism from all corners of Virginia and even from Democratic elected officials and the Washington Post. But while Northam’s campaign is now trying to shift blame, voters are quickly learning that Northam’s campaign coordinated with Latino Victory Fund (“LVF”) on media and advertising before the ad went up and should be held accountable for the content of it.
Northam’s campaign worked closely with the LVF before the ad was released. On September 26, the LVF contributed $16,000 directly to his campaign. Northam even attended an event hosted by the LVF the day before.
According to the Washington Post, a recent private poll showed Northam in trouble with minority voters. As the Post reported, the “private poll shared widely among minority advocacy groups sparked worry about the Democrat’s appeal…” and that “Northam’s campaign urged the groups not to release the poll’s findings.” Of note, the campaign finance report filed on Monday by Northam’s campaign disclosing all spending and fundraising in October shows no in-kind donation for the poll mentioned by the Washington Post, the same poll that his campaign directed outside groups not to release.
Around the same time the poll mentioned by the Washington Post would have been conducted, Ralph Northam’s campaign began authorizing a ‘racist’ narrative in campaign literature, including multiple fliers coordinated with the Democratic Party of Virginia and directly authorized by Ralph Northam. One of those mailers even foreshadowed the LVF’s reprehensible ad by using minority children in a direct attempt to instill fear and worry into Virginia voters.
On October 17, Northam’s campaign received two in-kind contributions in the amounts of $23,475 and $2,870.10 from the Latino Victory PAC (“LVP”), described as “advertising” and “media.” Yesterday the Northam campaign reported receiving a large pre-election in-kind contribution from the LVP for $62,729.60 for “media.” According to the Virginia State Board of Elections’ Summary of Laws and Policies for Candidate Campaign Committees, Section 4.2 – In-Kind Contribution vs. Independent Expenditures. “To qualify as an in-kind contribution, the candidate or an agent of the candidate’s campaign committee must have either expressly requested or suggested to the person or committee that the expenditure be made, or the candidate or an agent of the candidate campaign committee must have material involvement in devising the strategy, content, means of dissemination, or timing of the expenditure.” The fact that it was reported as an in-kind donation yesterday by Ralph Northam’s campaign shows that they were involved in the strategy, content, and the timing of the vile ad that was launched on Monday attacking Virginia voters — otherwise it would have been reported as an Independent Expenditure.
Northam’s campaign defended the LVF ad to the Washington Post on Monday: “A Northam campaign spokeswoman expressed no misgivings about the Latino Victory Fund ad.” His campaign staffer even mocked a voter on social media for objecting to the ad.
By Tuesday afternoon, even the Washington Post’s editorial board, which has leaned left in its editorials, slammed Northam for not condemning the “vile” and offensive ad. But in that same editorial, Northam’s campaign attempted to walk back its original support, noting that “Ralph Northam would not have run this ad.”
Then yesterday in an interview with WAVY News 10 just hours before his campaign reported the in-kind donation for the vile ad, Ralph Northam said “That commercial did not come from our campaign, and it’s certainly not a commercial that I would have wanted to run.” Yet the facts show that his campaign was involved in coordinating this ad directly with the LVP ad and his statement to WAVY is misleading at best, or an outright lie.
Ralph Northam’s campaign saw a poll (it’s still unclear who paid for the poll) that showed him underperforming among minority voters and desperation set in. Around the time that the poll’s results were discussed with outside groups, Northam personally authorized this racist line of attack, starting with flyers paid for by the Democratic Party of Virginia. His campaign coordinated with the LVF on media and reported it as an in-kind donation to his campaign. He cannot walk back this line of attack now that he is realizing voters all across Virginia are rejecting his campaign of fear. His failure of leadership will likely have a significant impact on the outcome of this election.