Ralph Northam is having a tough week, and the timing couldn’t be worse: Election Day looms on Tuesday. The latest blow to the Democrat? News broke last night that his campaign coordinated with the Latino Victory Fund (LVF) to release the controversial video ad depicting Gillespie and his supporters as racist murderers — despite Northam’s claims that he had no knowledge of the ad before it aired and that he wouldn’t have approved it.
The imbroglio began on Monday, when the progressive Latino Victory PAC released a video ad showing a pickup truck with a Confederate flag, an Ed Gillespie bumper sticker, and a Gadsden-flag license plate chasing and attempting to run down minority children in the streets. The video immediately received intense criticism.
After the terrorist attack in downtown Manhattan on Tuesday, LVF removed the video from YouTube and deleted its tweets promoting the ad. But the group issued a statement on the controversy that pointedly refused to apologize for the ad’s content; in fact, it reaffirmed the video’s message.
Despite the immediate criticism of the ad, Northam’s campaign defended it to the Washington Post on Monday: “A Northam campaign spokeswoman expressed no misgivings about the Latino Victory Fund ad.”
Even so, it remained unclear whether the campaign had foreknowledge of the video or played a role in its creation. In a Wednesday interview with local Virginia station WAVY News 10, Northam himself said of the ad, “That commercial did not come from our campaign, and it’s certainly not a commercial that I would have wanted to run.”
But just hours later, his campaign reported an October 31 in-kind contribution of $62,729.60 from the Latino Victory PAC for “media.” Under Virginia campaign law, in-kind contributions are defined as expenditures coordinated with the campaign. In other words, if Northam’s campaign hadn’t coordinated with LVF or had knowledge of the ad, it would’ve been reported as an independent expenditure rather than in-kind.
From the Virginia State Board of Elections’ Summary of Laws and Policies for Candidate Campaign Committees:
To qualify as an in-kind contribution, the candidate or an agent of the candidate’s campaign committee must have either expressly requested or suggested to the person or committee that the expenditure be made, or the candidate or an agent of the candidate campaign committee must have material involvement in devising the strategy, content, means of dissemination, or timing of the expenditure.
According to Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment, “the Latino Victory Fund . . . has not made any independent expenditures in Virginia and therefore has filed no campaign disclosures of their own.” If the ad had been an independent expenditure on the part of LVF and not a coordinated expenditure, as Northam’s spokespeople have claimed, LVF would be required to report it.
More from Kerpen’s analysis:
The plain fact is Ralph Northam thought this ad would work to boost flagging turnout among Democrat-leaning minority voters in Northern Virginia. Even when he was faced with initial public backlash, he refused to disavow the ad — doing so only after an actual murder-truck attack took place, driven not by a Gillespie-supporting tea partier, but by a jihadi immigrant.
Unfortunately for the Democrat, the ad seems to have had the opposite effect. Gillespie’s campaign is reporting that online donations have tripled in the days since the ad was released. And to make matters worse for Northam, there is now undeniable evidence that his camp indeed had foreknowledge of the video.
This revelation isn’t the only problem to plague the Democratic campaign in recent days. Also last night, Northam flip-flopped on sanctuary cities, taking an incredibly convoluted stance. His switch was likely an attempt to appease everyone, but it may result in making everyone upset with him for one reason or another. Although he still leads in most polls, the gap appears to be narrowing. This is far from the kind of week that Democrats needed their candidate to be having.