Based on some early evidence it appears that Urbana attorney Erika Harold is running a Sarah Palin-centric congressional campaign.
Not so, says Harold.
Harold, the Harvard Law School graduate and former Miss America who is challenging Republican Congressman Rodney Davis of Taylorville in the 13th Congressional District, last weekend did an interview with radio reporter Kevin Scholla on a website called Sarahnet (http://www.sarahnet.net/).
The site reports on nearly everything uttered by the former Alaska governor and one-time vice presidential candidate, but also says that it "is not authorized by Governor Sarah Palin, any committee, or PAC." Representatives of the website did not respond to a request for comment.
Yet there are numerous photos of Palin on the website, the interview with Harold was posted on what was called "The Palin Radio Update," and Scholla prefaced his first question to the rookie congressional candidate with this unusual pitch, "Sarah Palin has been attacked in every way possible since hitting the national stage, the way the left and the establishment in the media have gone after conservative, principle women. It's visceral, it's often very strange but it's always very nasty, and here you have are, very early on in your candidacy and already you had to stand up to some disgusting, gutter tactics."
Oddly, Scholla never explained the "disgusting, gutter tactics." But presumably he was referring to an email from a Republican county chairman in central Illinois to the publisher of an Illinois Republican web site, the content of which attacked Harold and her decision to challenge Davis. The attack, using racist and sexist language, wasn't from anyone on "the left" or from "the establishment in the media," but from someone on the same team.
Then Scholla finally got to this equally strange question: "Can you already feel, at least a little bit, what Sarah Palin has had to endure over the years?"
Harold responded that attacks leveled against Palin "were probably unprecedented," then quickly moved to another question.
The unique Sarahnet interview came a few days after a super PAC known as ShePAC, and created by Palin supporters, emailed a fundraising appeal to its followers.
"Erika Harold needs our help," the email said. "A conservative congressional candidate, Harvard-educated attorney, former Miss America and confident woman, she is suffering a brutally sexist and racist attack. Sadly, this attack is not coming from the left, it is coming from within our own party."
The man behind the email attack, former Montgomery County Republican Chairman Jim Allen, later resigned.
Harold said her campaign did not authorize the fundraising appeal from ShePAC, and all references to Harold have since been removed from the ShePAC website.
She also said that she has not affiliated herself with any other political figures "at this point."
"I did an interview with Kevin Scholla of SarahNet Radio last night but do not know whether or to what extent the radio station is affiliated with Sarah Palin," Harold said. "I have received many interview requests since announcing my candidacy and am attempting to fulfill as many as possible."
Mark Shelden, the former Champaign County clerk who is advising Harold, said "there's no connection" between the Harold campaign and Palin.
"We are not coordinating with anybody, any PACs at all. That's for sure," Shelden said.
Meanwhile, ShePAC has an interesting record of fundraising and spending. It has had only modest fundraising success, records show. It was formed more than a year ago.
The most stunning thing about the committee is how little of the $154,880 it raised went directly to female candidates: just $6,000.
According to the Federal Election Commission and the website opensecrets.org, ShePAC gave $1,000 contributions to six female Republican House and Senate candidates.
The biggest share of the money it brought in went to various consultants: more than $28,000 to a direct-mail vendor, about $22,000 to a communications firm, almost $10,000 to the Capitol Hill Club for a reception.
Frerichs funds. Champaign Democrat Mike Frerichs, a likely candidate for state treasurer next year, hasn't reported his second quarter fundraising totals yet, but he raised at least $102,500 during the period April 1 to June 30.
Frerichs' campaign reported dozens of contributions of $1,000 or more, including $34,000 from the Senate Democratic Victory Fund, whose chairman is Senate President John Cullerton, and $15,000 from the Illinois Laborers' Legislative Committee.
Frerichs had $515,000 in his campaign treasury on March 31.
One of the more interesting donations to Frerichs' campaign came from Champaign attorney Samuel Rosenberg, who gave a $1,400 in-kind contribution toward the cost of a fundraiser for Frerichs last month at the Big Grove Tavern in Champaign. Watch for Rosenberg's name to come up as a potential replacement for Frerichs in the Senate if he wins the treasurer's race next fall.
Rutherford money. The current state treasurer, Republican Dan Rutherford, is running for governor this time and he reported Monday that he had closed out the second quarter of fundraising with more than a million dollars on hand.
Rutherford, a former state senator whose district had included parts of Champaign County, said he had $1.02 million on hand, with donations from 1,540 individuals.
Rutherford had $739,714 on hand on March 31.
Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette editor and columnist. His column appears on Wednesdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 351-5221 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.