Who is Jeff Roe? He’s been called “scum of the earth”,
photo by Keith Myers firstname.lastname@example.org
“piece of sh!t”, a “creep”, “no ethics”, “soul-less” … among a plethora of other pejoratives.
Let’s examine the man behind Ted Cruz’s campaign.
In a 2010 congressional race, Jeff Roe managed Billy Long’s campaign against Scott Eckersley. (source)
A HOAX e-mail sent to news media outlets, and a “tweet” issued by a fake Twitter account, announced that Eckersley had suspended his campaign due to personal reasons. Eckersley blames his opponent, Republican Billy Long, for sending out the hoax days before the election.
“You know this is dirty politics. This is Jeff Roe-style management.”
(Does the Jeff Roe playbook sound familiar?)
Roe has routinely battled Democrats. In 2006 he mauled Democrat Sara Jo Shettles’ campaign for Missouri’s 6th District House seat, held by U.S. Rep. Sam Graves. A Roe-produced ad linked Shettles with “smut” because she sold ads for a company that published an adult magazine.
Shettles had nothing to do with the adult publication, and she remains bitter about her experience with Roe.
“It’s a game to him,” she said. “He’s done rotten things to people with long-lasting impact.”
In 2008, Roe demolished former Kansas City mayor Kay Barnes’ congressional campaign against Graves by linking her with the “San Francisco values” of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
(Jeff Roe playbook sound familiar?)
Roe once ordered aides to comb through opponents’ trash, looking for campaign fodder. He hired operatives to track candidates with video cameras, leading some to complain of unnecessary provocation and to file complaints with police. Roe has long defended such tactics.
“These are not prom-queen elections,” he said in 2007. “Who’s elected, what their values are, all that determines the direction of the nation.”
In 2005, Roe established Kansas City-based Axiom Strategies, a political consulting and direct-mail firm.
In 2014, at least two GOP candidates for Missouri governor — Catherine Hanaway and Tom Schweich — tried to hire Axiom for their campaigns. Hanaway won the competition.
In February 2015, Roe drafted and aired a radio ad on Hanaway’s behalf, comparing Schweich with fictional deputy sheriff Barney Fife. (Audio here)
The radio ad transcript: “Elections have consequences. Tom Schweich, like him? No. Is he a weak candidate for governor? Absolutely, just look at him. He could be easily confused for the deputy sheriff of Mayberry.”
“But, more importantly, he can be manipulated. That’s why Sen. Claire McCaskill and Pres. Obama enlisted my help to meddle in another Republican primary with Schweich as our pawn. Schweich and McCaskill are tied at the hip. Schweich even gave money to McCaskill’s campaign.”
“Schweich is an obviously weaker opponent against Democrat Chris Koster. Once Schweich obtains the Republican nomination, we will quickly squash him like a bug that he is and put our candidate, Chris Koster in the governor’s mansion.”
A few days later after the ad ran Schweich took his own life.
Friends say Schweich’s fragile mental state played a major role in that tragedy, and inaccurate claims that Schweich was Jewish concerned the state auditor. But some Schweich associates believe he was particularly worried about Roe — he kept a computer file, friends say, of information he believed damaging to the consultant.
Roe’s radio ad, the friends say, played a part in pushing Schweich over the edge.
“The commercial had no factual basis whatsoever. None. Zero,” Missouri Sen. Mike Parson, a Republican, said at the time. “It speaks volumes as to how far out of hand things have become, to base attacks on someone’s appearance, and to make reference to one being small.”
Former U.S. senator Jack Danforth of Missouri, a Republican, called the ad’s producers bullies, and he has not changed his mind.
“I meant everybody behind that ad,” he said last week, including Roe.
Few of Roe’s Missouri friends are surprised at his success with the Cruz campaign. Roe said he “begged” for the job after working for Cruz’s 2012 Republican Senate opponent in Texas.
“Our campaign manager is a very, very talented, incredibly effective manager,” Senator Cruz told reporters after his Iowa speech.
Dave Helling: @dhellingkc
Steve Kraske: @stevekraske
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