Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Disgraceful attacks on Karen Diebel

Yesterday, a blog posted some very inflammatory accusations about Karen Diebel.  I am not going to drive traffic to that site by posting a link (and I am not going to publish any comments that reference that blog's name or address). The short story is that in 2008, Karen received several personal threats to her and her children, and the police were called several times. Someone decided to take this old story (a story that had already been reported over a year ago by the Orlando Sentinel) totally out of context and try and make political hay out of it less than two months before the primary.
Rumors are flying about the source of that blog post, and there are a lot of people pointing fingers at Karen's Republican primary opponents.  I do not yet have any evidence directly implicating either the Craig Miller or Sandy Adams campaign, but there are some troublesome coincidences and events that happened over the past few days.  Both Adams' and Miller's campaign managers have denied initiating this story, and I believe the word of both managers, but I also am a semi-cynical realist about elections and politics, and I know that candidates don't always tell their staff 100% of their activities, especially when it's something morally questionable.

I am currently in the middle of my investigation of this situation, and decided to go ahead and post what I've uncovered so far, on the theory that maybe other people reading this blog will be able to help with the research and maybe find something I've missed.  If anyone does find something, and isn't comfortable bringing it forward on their own, please contact me and if I can verify your information, I will post it here.  

Anyway, here's what I've dug up so far...

The blog published a letter dated January 21, 2010 from Winter Park Police Department Deputy Chief Arthur S. King, addressed to a Ms. Cynthia Lawson, 5120 Sunrail Drive, Antioch, TN 37013, in response to a January 11, 2010 letter from Ms. Lawson requesting certain public records.

 (click on image to enlarge)

The Davidson County, Tennessee property records show that this house has been owned by "Linda and Melinda Caldwell" since at least a quit claim deed in 11/5/2009.  I am still investigating different people named "Cynthia Lawson" in this area of Tennessee.  

What else is in Tennessee?  Craig Miller reports a $500 contribution on March 16, 2010 from William F. Regas, Regas Royalties, LLC, P.O. Box 10288, Knoxville, TN 37939.  I was told yesterday that a guy named Wayne Bertsch was at one point affiliated with the Sandy Adams campaign, and that he is known to use the services of an opposition research consulting company in Tennessee. 

Again, I do not have direct proof that either campaign was directly involved in providing information to that blog.  However, we do have information that both campaigns were actively involved in promoting the blog yesterday and helping disseminate its content.  One of Adams' top volunteers posted a very ugly comment on his Facebook page, along with a link to the blog, and the campaign manager for Craig Miller, Jon Miller (no relation), sent out emails like this (I've redacted the name to protect my source):

 (click on image to enlarge)

I am still going through the Miller and Adams campaign finance reports, and the most recent quarterly report for Adams was not yet posted as of yesterday.  I am happy to email the PDF report files to anyone who would like them, or you can download them yourself on the Florida Division of Elections website.

Now, back to the substance of the letter, if this request was made back on January 11th, and the documents provided a very speedy ten days later, then why the five month delay in releasing the information?  Most disturbingly, why Monday, the day before the anniversary of her husband's tragic death?  For those of you unfamiliar with the story, Dr. Don Diebel, Jr. was killed eight years ago today on a family trip, while attempting to save a newlywed couple whose car had overturned on the Florida Turnpike.  Dr. Diebel and another rescuer were killed by a tractor trailer that ran off the road and struck them while Karen watched in horror from the car, with her three young sons.  
Karen's political opponents have decided to attack a widowed mother for her very natural actions taken to protect herself and her family.  Whenever we hear about a woman getting hurt or killed, and then find out that she was being stalked or harassed, we wonder why she never tried to protect herself by creating a police report and getting the information about her harassers on file.  The attacks on Karen yesterday are a pathetic mixture of outright lies, misrepresentations, and events taken out of context.  Sadly, this isn't the first time that Karen's enemies have vindictively targeted her around the anniversary of the accident.  The day of the police report referenced in yesterday's blog, Karen received an anonymous call threatening the life of her and her children, and had received other harassment over the preceding days.

For my own political activity over the past few years, I have received vicious anonymous threatening emails and phone calls at my home, libelous and defamatory lies have been printed in blogs, and my friends and family members have been harassed.  Doug Guetzloe has threatened to sue me personally and in 2008 filed a complaint against me with the Florida Division of Elections and the State Attorney's Office (the complaint was tossed out immediately because he didn't fill out the form right, thankfully).  None of this has made me stop what I am doing, or not support a candidate, or not speak out, but I can understand how this type of harassment could be stressful to Karen, especially considering how protective she is of her sons.
More background information: for those of you unfamiliar with Winter Park politics, don't discount it as just a small town.  Winter Park has a lot of powerful people with a lot of personal wealth, who aren't used to hearing the word "no."  At the time of the police report mentioned in the blog, Karen was a Winter Park Commissioner, and was openly supporting Ken Bradley, the challenger to the sitting incumbent Mayor David Strong.  I personally helped with Bradley's campaign and witnessed a despicable level of vicious nastiness and misrepresentations from Bradley's opponents.  As you can expect, the Commission meetings during this period were filled with tension.  Karen was a viewed as a swing vote on the controversial SunRail issue, and was heavily targeted by those opposed to SunRail.  Among the names Karen provided in the police report were Mayor Strong, and Steve Walsh, the inflammatory developer who was found dead in his home after the details of his financial fraud began to come to light.
There's been some other statements made about the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the NRCC's involvement in this Congressional campaign.  I'm going to explore the NRCC issues in a separate post later this week.

I am waiting to hear a statement of denial directly from Craig Miller or Sandy Adams about what happened yesterday.  So far, their silence has been deafening, and in my opinion, pretty damning.   I am not dropping this, and I'm not the only one looking into it.  

If you know Sandy Adams or Craig Miller, I ask you to contact them and let them know you do not support this kind of ugly personal attack on a fellow Republican, and that you want them to publicly state their opposition to this activity.

[UPDATE: I confirmed later with both Adams herself and people within her 2010 campaign that she had nothing to do with this. Considering the nasty and false mailers Craig Miller sent out attacking Diebel later, well, let's just say I wouldn't be shocked to find out his campaign was behind this.]

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