Editorial | Davis should address questions about former aide

Editorial | Davis should address questions about former aide

The arrest last week of a campaign aide to U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis continues to make news, in part because the congressman didn't immediately address whether the aide was sent to a campaign event for his opponent or whether he went on his own. Davis' campaign said Tuesday that it did not send him to the event. But will that be the end of the story?

It's been a frequent refrain of Congressman Rodney Davis in recent years that politics has become disrespectful, hostile and uncivil. It's part of the reason, the Taylorville Republican says, that he doesn't host large town hall meetings and prefers to meet with constituents one-on-one or in small groups.

Yet Davis now finds himself entangled in a controversy about one of his paid staff members, Levi Lovell, who showed up drunk at a campaign event last week in Springfield for Davis' Democratic opponent, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan. Lovell was arrested after he allegedly antagonized Londrigan and her husband at the event.

Lovell admitted that he was a field director for Davis' campaign, that he was videotaping — or in political parlance "tracking" her — and that "it is referred to as 'dirty politics' in which he attempts to video the opponent making an inappropriate comment or act in public," according to a report by Springfield police.

Lovell was fired by Davis' campaign immediately after the incident came to light.

And Davis told reporters in Springfield on Monday that he personally did not send Lovell to the event.

"There is no way that I would ever send anyone to go sit at a bar for multiple hours and become intoxicated with my opponent's supporters and families," Davis said. "That is not something that I would ever condone."

But he appeared to dodge questions from reporters who wanted to know if anyone else from the campaign may have ordered Lovell to attend the event and what the aide's motivation was for being there.

On Tuesday, Davis spokeswoman Ashley Phelps addressed the question more directly with this statement: "Our campaign did not send Levi to attend this event. I'll reiterate again from our previous statements, which were made when our campaign terminated his employment and Congressman Davis personally apologized to the Londrigan family for his behavior: Our campaign does not tolerate harassment or violence of any kind."

Still, that may not be the end of this story. Lovell told Springfield police that he had been involved in a similar incident in Champaign, although he didn't say when that was, whether he was working for Davis at the time and how it was "similar."

Davis should personally address the situation and explain whether he knew of Lovell's "similar" incident and, if so, why he continued to work for him.

And yes, the congressman is right that politics indeed is uncivil.

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