Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lummis "Mole" calls in to Trauner event

I can't be too hard on Cynthia Lummis's press secretary, Rachael Seidenschnur, for her attempt via phone to derail Gary Trauner's press conference yesterday. For one thing, she has that name to deal with. Sounds like a character from a Mel Brooks movie. For another, she says she was just trying to be helpful.

Let me set this up for you. We (Trauner staffers, the press and me) were gathered in the lobby of Gary Trauner's Cheyenne office. Gary addressed the current economic crisis. He rolled out some great ideas, some outlined in previous posts. And then he took questions from those gathered in the room. And then he turned to questions from the phone on the podium. The call-in number had been widely reported, so members of the press -- and anyone else -- could call in. Elsa Partan from Wyoming Public Radio asked some good questions about the bailout plan. She wondered if the candidate advocated a monthly review of any legislation. She also asked if he supported the plans by some Democrats to add to the legislation ways to help homeowners.

And then a woman's voice came over the speakerphone. At first it sounded as if her name was Sara. Gary leaned closer and gathered that her name was "Sierra." She identified herself as "a supporter." She didn't say a supporter of who or what. Then the woman with the fake name asked her question. My notes only show a snippet of the question: "...would you vote with Pelosi and the Democrats...." It sounded like a loaded question, but it also sounded lame. Fortunately for us, Mead Gruver of the Associated Press had an audio recorder.

Here's what the caller said, as recounted in an AP story:
"I have a question. This is Sierra. I'm just a supporter. I was curious about whether Mr. Trauner supports, or if he'd been in the House would have voted for Nancy Pelosi's and the rest of the Democrats' energy bill this past week."

Trauner asked the caller who she was. After the caller repeated that she was a supporter, Trauner steered the conversation to the topic of the news conference.
According to my notes, Gary told her that the question was off-topic and that she should call him at his office and he could answer her question.

Do you think Sierra will call Gary's office today? She's a supporter, after all.

The AP called Seidenschnur and questioned her about the call. Here's what she said:
"I was curious about getting information to people concerning the Pelosi question. And it's a public thing. And I was curious. I wanted folks to know. I think that was a fair question. It wasn't in any way, you know, derogatory."
The AP also received phone records from the Trauner office which showed a listing for Seidenschnur's cell phone number. Caught red-handed!

Trauner said:
"That's not the kind of thing I would ever do, and I think to myself, 'Is this really the kind of person we want to send to D.C.?' "
Thing is, Seidenschnur has already done her time in D.C. as press secretary to Rep. Barbara Cubin, the Republican that Gary's trying to replace. Seidenschnur served as Cubin's press secretary until a few weeks ago.

Makes you wonder about the quality of people Lummis picks for her staff. Cubin retreads. If elected, would her next two years in Congress be more of the same?

Gary was right to be suspicious of the caller. When the press conference was over, I heard whisperings from some people about the caller being a "mole." To be a mole, you have to be somewhat effective at burrowing into a situation and finding out stuff. Perhaps if the Lummis staffer had been a bit better at theatrics, she would have yielded better results.

All this would be laughable if it wasn't for other Republican hijinks during this election year. If you've been reading the papers, you'd know that "caging" is a tried-and-true Repub tactic to keep Democrats from the polls.

Citizens! Beware of phone calls from Sierra and her fellow travelers!


Anonymous said...

I went to high school with Rachael, and she was an active member of Young Democrats in 10th and 11th grade, and somehow during the summer between junior and senior year she saw the light and became a staunch Republican. Ever since her shift, she's been the most militant, defensive Republican she can be...and look where it got her!

GeneralLee said...

Anon, that is so crazy! I went to college with Rachael and she was probably the most over-the-top disgusting conservative on Washington and Lee's campus. (and that's saying a lot if you know W&L). It is also very disappointing because Washington and Lee is a school that is know for is Honor System. Rachael has clearly lost her sense of Honor working on the Hill.