I wanted to flag some key details of this developing story. The Judiciary Committee staffer who was forced to resign today over an earlier sexual harassment allegation is more than just an embarrassment for the committee. It runs a bit deeper than that. Garrett Ventry was seconded to the Committee by CRC Public Relations, a well-connected right wing PR firm which works for The Federalist Society and the Judicial Crisis Network (the campaign style group that runs ads and mobilization for Federalist Society-selected candidates).
If that name sounds familiar, it should. CRC Public Relations is the same firm that ran Ed Whelan’s effort to exonerate Kavanaugh with his nonsensical Twitter thread accusing a random high school classmate of attempting to rape Professor Blasey Ford.
So this wasn’t just an example of one person’s extremely bad moral and political judgment. Whelan had what was apparently very high level professional guidance on lighting himself and his reputation on fire on Twitter.
So, again, CRC Public Relations is doing the PR work for the Federalist Society which chose Kavanaugh, the campaign group that is running ads for him. They also directed the stunt trying to exonerate him by accusing a fellow classmate of attempted rape. Yet we’re supposedly to believe that Whelan’s escapade was his own secret.
Ventry actually works for them too, or did until this morning when he was forced to resign from that job as well. So why was he seconded to work on the Judiciary Committee? In Politico Eliana Johnson reports this (thank you to Sarah Posner for flagging this) …
A source said Ventry had joined the Committee after the Federalist Society requested that CRC send somebody over to the Hill to help with the Kavanaugh nomination.
So The Federalist Society reportedly asked its PR firm to second someone to the Hill to help coordinate on pushing through the Kavanaugh investigation. They’re working it from the White House. That happened to be someone with a history of at least one claim of harassment. Indeed, it was Ventry who hopped on Twitter little more than an hour after Whelan’s faceplant went live to deny on the committee’s behalf that anyone there knew about it or was involved.
To reporters asking: The Senate Judiciary Committee had no knowledge or involvement. https://t.co/MBmqrwMyp5
— Garrett Ventry (@GarrettVentry) September 20, 2018
Then there’s this additional fact. According to the Post, about 90 minutes after the Post revealed Blasey Ford’s name to the White House as part of reporting out the article in which Blasey Ford went public, Ed Whelan was researching her background on Linkedin!
On Sunday, Ford noticed that — even before her name became public — Whelan appeared to be seeking information about her.
That morning, Ford alerted an associate via email that Whelan had looked at her LinkedIn page, according to the email, which was reviewed by The Post. LinkedIn allows some subscribers to see who views their pages. Ford sent the email about 90 minutes after The Post shared her name with a White House spokesman and hours before her identity was revealed in a story posted on its website.
A White House spokesman said Friday that neither Kavanaugh nor anyone in the White House gave Ford’s name to Whelan before it was disclosed by The Post.
Now it’s important to recognize that all of these people backing Kavanaugh’s nomination are part of the same conservative legal and judicial community. There’s nothing strange or wrong about that. Every White House will coordinate with people on Capitol Hill and outside groups to push a nomination – though I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this level of coordination or a private group running the show from the White House and Capitol Hill. (In this case, the Federalist Society is quite open about essentially being designated by the GOP to choose its judicial candidates.) But here’s the key. We have a wide round of denials that anyone on the Hill or the White House or Kavanaugh himself had anything to do with trying to save Kavanaugh by accusing the uninvolved classmate. But the web of connections here – while not at all unprecedented in themselves – make that very implausible. Remember too that there’s good evidence suggesting that Leonard Leo, Federalist Society chief and the big driver of all of this, knew about Whelan’s ‘evidence’ and plans.
The PR firm leading that effort, even doing the core research it seems, was directing strategy and PR for the Federalist Society and the JCN. It had its staffers seconded to the Judiciary Committee. The White House was apparently giving out Blasey Ford’s name to Whelan and others within minutes of finding out about it from the Post in advance of their story. These people are all working together. Almost certainly Whelan’s plan was well-known in that group and supported by them.
None of these denials hold any water. It’s only a matter of time.