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Senate Majority PAC uses staffer scandal against Tillis

Posted April 15

A still picture from "Let's clean up her mess" ad by Thom Tillis.

— Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC linked to Senate Democrats and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, is using a 2012 scandal to attack Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis.

The Washington Post first reported the ad Tuesday night, providing a link to the PAC's YouTube channel.

"Thom Tillis shared an apartment with his chief of staff when North Carolina news reported that the chief of staff was having an extramarital affair with a lobbyist and was caught on camera and resigned," the ad begins. "Then, one week later, another Tillis staffer resigns for another sexual relationship with a lobbyist. Thom Tillis' reaction? He claimed he was surprised by his roommate's affair but then rewarded both aides with taxpayer-paid bonuses. Thom Tillis: Spending our money to clean up his mess."

The incident referenced in the commercial came to light just before the May 2012 legislative short session. Charles Thomas, who was Tillis' chief of staff and roommate, resigned after admitting to a romantic relationship with a lobbyist for the Home Builders Association. The affair was problematic both because Thomas was married and because of the perception that Thomas could have used his role to do favors for the lobbyist.

Days later, Tillis' policy adviser, Amy Hobbs, resigned after volunteering to Tillis that she, too, had had a romantic relationship with a lobbyist. The story surfaced again two weeks later when it was reported Tillis paid roughly $19,000 in severance to the two staffers in question.

Polls show Tillis, the state House speaker, is the leader among eight Republicans vying for the chance to take on U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat, in this year's general election. Super PACs from both sides of the political spectrum have been spending heavily on the race, although most of their television advertising anticipates a Hagan-Tillis showdown rather than focusing on the primary. 

This is not the first time the 2-year-old scandal has been used in the campaign. Dr. Greg Brannon of Cary, who along with Rev. Mark Harris of Charlotte and Wilkesboro nurse Heather Grant are the Republicans closest to Tillis in the primary polls, referenced the resignations in a January fundraising letter. But with nearly $1 million behind it, according to The Washington Post, the Senate Majority PAC ad will have much more reach.

According to FCC filings, the commercial will run on broadcast television in every major television market in the state. 

So why would Democrats run an ad against Tillis before he is officially Hagan's opposition? 

The worst case scenario is it gives the Democratic side of the ledger that much of a head start on the fall campaign. The conservative Americans for Prosperity has already spent about $8 million on ads attacking Hagan. This evens that score a bit. 

In a best-case scenario, the early advertising damages Tillis enough that he is forced into a runoff. Primary winners need at least 40 percent of the vote, or the second-place challenger can call for a runoff. That would drain money from Tillis' campaign war chest and maybe scare off some donors who would be concerned he couldn't close out a trio of relatively unknown political novices. Also, a second primary campaign would overlap with this year's North Carolina General Assembly session, forcing Tillis to manage the campaign as he manages the sometimes messy budget process or excuses himself from one of the state's highest-profile jobs.

32 Comments

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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Apr 21, 9:36 a.m.

    RIDDICKFIELD, did you actually read the story?

    This link shows that Tillis’ staffer Charles Thomas resigned, after the newpaper found out he was sleeping with his Home Builder lobbyist. And all Tillis did was complain that someone found out about it. http://www.wral.com/news/state/nccapitol/story/11031879/

    This link shows *another* Tillis’ staffer Amy Hobbs resigned ALSO for sleeping with a lobbyist: http://www.wral.com/news/state/nccapitol/story/11049924/

    On top of that, Tillis now lies and tells us that he “fired” both people. Liar. My bet is that he didn’t fire them, because he didn’t want them collecting Unemployment Insurance!

    This is HUGE news & deserves to be shouted from the rooftops and certainly placed in political ads to demonstrate what kind of office Tillis runs...one rife with lobbyist relationships and weak accountability. Meanwhile, Tillis continues to ignore the conflict-of-interest issue & just complains about everyone making a big deal about all thi

  • NC_interest Apr 17, 11:49 a.m.

    Tillis. Traditional Marriage champion.

    — Posted by support18

    That's a great reason to support him He is supporting a law that will be ruled unconstitutional. Just like his staffers are immoral.

  • josephlawrence43 Apr 17, 11:47 a.m.

    I seem to recall a certain president making a flat out promise that no lobbyist would be working in his administration. We all see how that turned out..

  • unaffiliated69 Apr 17, 11:33 a.m.

    About the best anyone can say about Tillis at this point is that he's an establishment Republican hack who might be marginally better than the establishment Democratic hack (Hagan) that we have now.

  • support18 Apr 17, 10:22 a.m.

    Tillis. Traditional Marriage champion.

  • pianoguy Apr 17, 10:12 a.m.

    I find it interesting that the media just assumes that Tillis is going to win the Republican primary, and I think that is taking a lot for granted. There are a lot of Republican voters that have no interest in him - me included.

  • cooldela1966 Apr 17, 8:05 a.m.

    Where can we find photos?

    Most of the NC lobbyists I know are middle aged fat men. Photos of Monica were all over the news as were photos of Rielle.

    Put the pictures up on the web.

  • AliceBToklas Apr 16, 3:53 p.m.

    I see that what is lost on many is that it was his staffer, not himself.
    Guilt by association?View More

    — Posted by privilegesrevoked

    Well, for me, it's the association with a lobbyist that bothers me. It calls into question all of the behind closed doors dealings. Otherwise, I couldn't care less.

  • rduwxboy Apr 16, 3:07 p.m.

    "If a Senator can not do the most basic requirement of their position, which would be to actually read a bill before voting on it, then yes by all means this means nothing." -APERSON

    I might can understand not reading a 2,000 page bill word for word, but lying about your educational credentials and claiming multiple alma maters, and then saying you don't have time to read everything, and you get confused sometimes - when it is about you - is different?

  • claytontarheel Apr 16, 3:00 p.m.

    No matter what your party affiliation is, you have to a admit this makes Thom Tillis look bad --... View More

    — Posted by rnitschke66

    Agreed. This smells of a tax payer funded bribe to the staffer to make sure they kept their mouth's closed about what Tillis knew of the affair.

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