The Udall-Schaffer contest for U.S. Senate has got to be one of the mud-slingingest campaigns out there right now. The election is still two months out, and just like he promised, Schaffer überlord Dick Wadhams is cramming negative ads "up the ass" of Mark Udall — and causing all our TV sets some discomfort in the bowels, too. Meanwhile, the pro-Udall forces have been blasting "Big Oil Bob" for everything from his defense of sweatshops in the Marianas to his son's "slavery is cool" Facebook gaffe.
Now the folks at ProgressNowAction have launched The Schaffer Scandals site, which purports to show the axis of evil influences surrounding the ex-congressman, complete with suitably damning sound effects: the humming of a sweatshop sewing machine, the slamming of cell doors, the ringing of a busy cash register, banjo music. (Banjo music?)
The web of Schaffer's shadowy associates includes Alex Cranberg and Jack Abramoff, of course. But it also includes Bill Orr and Scott Shires of the National Alternative Fuels Foundation — a bit of a reach, as pointed out in "Nobody's Fuel," our September 4 feature about NAFF and its battles with the EPA. Convicted of fraud and tax charges, Orr is facing prison time; Shires, who worked on Schaffer's 2004 Senate campaign, pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors and is on probation. The site correctly reports that Schaffer was briefly on the board of NAFF, but it omits some vital context found in our article: Schaffer never attended a single board meeting and resigned shortly after learning that Orr and Shires were facing a criminal investigation. "He was in and out like a swinging door," says Orr attorney Paul Grant.
If this be scandal, ProgressNowAction is determined to make the most of it. But what's the deal with the banjo music? -- Alan Prendergast