Carnahan dubs Martin as 'Hackman' on web and with signs
This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 16, 2010 - U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan is embracing some unusual campaign tactics as he battles Republican Ed Martin, arguably the St. Louis congressman's toughest rival since his first contest in 2004.
Like many state and regional candidates this year, Carnahan has set up a special web site to attack Martin. But this site goes for humor instead of the jugular, by setting up a Pacman-style game that uses Martin's head.
In an even more unusual move, the congressman's campaign also is posting signs around the 3rd District that attack Martin by name. "No More Ed Martin Hackman,'' the signs declare.
The signs and the web game focus on the controversy that surrounded Martin for two years during his old job as chief of staff to then-Gov. Matt Blunt. Martin and his staff admitted routinely destroying office e-mails, including some that critics said needed to be saved to comply with state open-records and record-preservation laws.
Martin fired a staff lawyer, Scott Eckersley, who said he warned that e-mails were being mishandled. Eckersley sued Martin, Blunt and other aides. Then-Attorney General Jay Nixon set up a special investigation team, resulting in another round of legal action.
Martin resigned, presumably at Blunt's behest. Several newspapers also filed open-records requests, and joined one of the lawsuits, in order to get access to tens of thousands of e-mails that Blunt's office had initially declined to release.
The legal battles cost Missouri taxpayers more than $2 million, but Martin rightly notes that the court settlements included no findings of wrongdoing. (Eckersley, who won an apology from the state and a $500,000 settlement, is now running for Congress as a Democrat in southwest Missouri's 7th District.)
But back to the "Hackman" game. Carnahan's campaign said its point is no joke.
"The website uses a funny theme to highlight the seriousness of Ed Martin’s personal bailout, costing taxpayers $2.4 million dollars for destroying government emails, firing a whistleblower and then trying to cover it up as Gov. Matt Blunt’s chief of staff," said Angela Guyadeen, Carnahan's communications director.
"Although Ed Martin is trying to turn over a new leaf so he can appeal to voters who may not know about his past, this website will set the record straight on Ed Martin’s history of playing by his own rules for his own benefit at taxpayer expense."
Martin said Wednesday that he viewed the game and signs as "flattering, but counterproductive."
Carnahan, said Martin, "is desperate to talk about anything but his record. He's run to yard signs and video games, when most people want jobs."