How the Smear Campaign Worked

How the smear campaign workedMake no mistake that the glossy 4 mailer smear campaign run against me 2 weeks ago DID work. It suppressed the vote for me compared with Natalie by 60 or so votes. But this post isn’t about handwringing. It’s about educating people as to how these things operate so they have better resistance to this tactic in future.

The mailers were supposedly paid for by a Super PAC called “Preserving Our Communities for the Future.” Super PACs have to file a Political Committee Registration statement giving a purpose, an address and the Treasurer’s name, so when the first mailer appeared I naturally searched the database to see if I could find this Super PAC, but I couldn’t. It was eventually found by another Democrat candidate, who was being attacked similarly in another town, under a subtly different name, “Preserving Our Communities for Tomorrow.” {Note: using a different name on the mailers is an election violation, and I am in the process of filing a complaint.)

The Treasurer for “Preserving Our Communities for Tomorrow” is Joseph Lisnak, the Tax Administrator for Burlington County. County positions like the Tax Administrator’s job are often described as “patronage” jobs, because they are appointed by the elected officials, who frequently make partisan choices. Joseph Lisnak, whose Riverton house was in foreclosure 2 years ago, is family friends with Bill Layton, the Chairman of the Burlington County Republican Committee. His Super PAC attacked only Democrat candidates in Burlington County townships (Moorestown, Chesterfield, Hainesport, and we later discovered, Eastampton). I think it is clear that the Burlington County Committee directed and funded the attacks. But why Hainesport? I got the second biggest attack—Kati Bonelli-Angelini, in Moorestown got 5 smear mailers—but I’m in the smallest town. Hainesport is hardly strategic. I can only assume that someone had a personal grudge against me.

The expensive mailers (large and glossy) are professionally designed by outfits like Chris Russell Consulting. You will see some of the dog whistle code words and idiosyncrasies from my mailers on the mailers in their portfolio. Let’s now examine the distortions that the mailers contained.

Anna Evans, Liberal PoliticianHow the smear campaign worked

I am many things: I am a mom, a wife, a published poet, an editor, an educator, and what my husband fondly calls “Vice-President of Everything Else” for our small business, Global Bridge LLC, run out of our Hainesport home. I ran for political office for the first time this election season, and to that extent I am a politician. My views are somewhat left of center, but the term “liberal politician” implies a career operative whose agenda is driven by social issues. My agenda for Hainesport was transparency and accountability.

Smear 1: Double-Dip into Taxpayer Funds

I laughed out loud when I saw this. I am an Adjunct Professor who teaches at two state schools. This semester I am teaching one class at Stockton University for $5000, and one at Rowan at BCC for $2000. My “double-dipping” will net me a massive $7000. There are several other ironies here:

  1. We have two genuine “double-dippers” on the current committee. Both take full time salaries from state jobs elsewhere but get their health benefits paid for out of Hainesport’s property taxes. Just those health benefits alone are worth twice what I will earn this year from teaching, which I do for love.
  2. Committeeman Elect Frank Masciocchi is also an Adjunct Professor. I am beyond appalled that he did not come forward to disavow this ridiculous smear as soon as he saw it.

Smear 2: Taxpayer-Funded Trips to Sunny LA

Last Spring I applied for the Adjunct Opportunity Fund at Stockton, and was awarded $500 to partially defray the cost of my trip to the AWP Writers Conference in LA (total cost $1331). At the conference I worked a Book Fair table 9-5 most days. To put this into perspective, consider what it would cost to host someone in one of the corporate boxes at a single Eagles game.

Smear 3: Supports Part-Time Elected Officials Getting Lifetime Taxpayer-Funded Healthcare Benefits

This one is complicated, which immediately informs you that someone from our township was co-ordinating with Lisnak/Layton, who would simply not have had the local knowledge to apply this smear.

If you go back and read my blog entries for June and July you will get a clearer idea of the current committee’s agenda. They wanted Bill Boettcher out, and they introduced an ordinance to end lifetime benefits for elected officials, knowing it would make him resign in order to keep his benefits. I was specifically against this ordinance, although in general I am against health benefits for any part time elected officials. The accusation that the Democrats support lifetime benefits for part-time officials was first made by Deputy Mayor Porto and is in the Township Meeting Minutes for July.

How the Smear Campaign Worked

Of course, anyone who knows me and understands township politics immediately saw how ridiculous these accusations were, but not everyone in Hainesport does know me. People stood in the polling booth and picked Natalie but not me because they believed these ridiculous lies about me. That hurts. Coming home from my teaching jobs to find yet another glossy mailer full of lies in my mailbox also hurt. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Meanwhile, my opponents, despite never making a public disavowal of the smear campaign, were able to claim that they ran the “clean” campaign, because their names were not on the mailers.

That’s how my opposition operates. I’m sure you’ve seen attack comments on my Facebook feed by people like, most recently, Simcha Rosen. I clickbaited this profile into revealing its IP address and discovered it is using proxy servers to disguise its location, and another investigative journalist has since traced those proxies to Burlington County.

But while my opponents hide their attacks in Super PACs and fake profiles, my agenda has always been transparency and accountability. I will continue to tell Hainesport the truth, and I hope that next time people will be more able to see through the lies.

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