Ralph Reed Firm Draws Criticism for Dirty Tricks in Virginia Race

Church & State, October 2000 | Go to article overview
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Ralph Reed Firm Draws Criticism for Dirty Tricks in Virginia Race


A top official of Ralph Reed's political consulting firm has been accused of involvement with dirty tricks in a GOP congressional primary in Virginia.

According to news media reports, Tim Phillips, vice president of Reed's Atlanta-based Century Strategies, helped create a supposedly "non-partisan" tax-exempt organization called the Faith and Family Alliance allegedly to drum up support for conservative causes in Virginia. But just four days before the state's June 12 GOP primary, the Alliance sent out a mailing attacking congressional candidate Eric I. Cantor.

The Alliance mailing was apparently intended to boost the prospects of State Sen. Stephen H. Martin, Cantor's Republican congressional opponent and the man who hired Phillips.

However, critics say the Alliance mailing distorted an incident in Cantor's past in which a business partnership ran into financial difficulties. The mailing slammed Cantor as a "millionaire lawyer [who] says he wants to cut your taxes ... but he didn't pay his own. He got caught. He got fined. And he finally was forced to pay $31,527.17 in back taxes."

The Charlottesville Daily Progress reported that the controversial mailing was prepared and sent by Robin Vanderwall, a Virginia Beach man who serves as president of the Alliance. Vanderwall said he used $15,000 from an anonymous donor to pay for the materials, which went to 40,000 voters in the district. He identified himself as a friend of Phillips who has worked with him on campaigns in the past.

Phillips told the Richmond-Times Dispatch he knows Vanderwall but had no involvement in the anti-Cantor mailing.

The newspaper indicated that Cantor's financial problems were more complex than the mailing indicated. "Court documents;" the daily reported, "show that a partnership, Old Cox Road Associates, in which Cantor and other family members were involved, bounced a check on March 11, 1994. Henrico County issued a tax lien against the partnership in June 1997. The back taxes were paid off in 1999, after the partnership mortgage was refinanced."

Republican Del. Paul C. Harris of Albemarle County blasted the Faith and Family Alliance for its actions. "I am profoundly displeased with the revolting tactics of the Faith and Family Alliance and the Martin campaign" Harris said.

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Ralph Reed Firm Draws Criticism for Dirty Tricks in Virginia Race
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