A possible fake campaign sign spotted in Herndon saying “Keep Parents Out Of Classrooms” and “Vote McAuliffe” was not sanctioned or distributed by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe’s campaign or the Democratic Party of Virginia.
The controversy arose this past weekend when Matt Lang, Republican challenger for the delegate seat in the 36th District, tweeted about the sign that uses a phrase that Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin has latched onto during the gubernatorial campaign.
This is how @TerryMcAuliffe and @VAHouseDems think of us as parents. They tell you to “shut up, sit down, and pay your taxes”. I say, NO! My child, my school, my voice! Let’s tell them to pound sand on November 2! Win with @GlennYoungkin and @vahousegop pic.twitter.com/iJLrgxAybW
— Matt Lang (@LangForVA) October 24, 2021
It appears the aim with the sign is reverse psychology, promoting that Democrats and McAuliffe want to “keep parents out of classrooms” while asking voters to “Keep Virginia Blue.”
The sign also does not include a federally-required disclaimer identifying who or what organization paid for them.
Reston Now has independently confirmed that, as of Monday night, the sign at Frying Pan Road and Burrough Farm Drive was still there.
However, both Democratic Party of Virginia and McAuliffe’s campaign have denied their involvement with the sign or others that have apparently been spotted in Northern Virginia.
“These signs are not ours. They were not sanctioned or distributed by Terry for Virginia or the Democratic Party of Virginia,” Manuel Bonder, a spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Virginia, wrote in a statement to Reston Now.
“This is not a sign distributed by us,” a spokesperson for the McAuliffe campaign told PolitiFact. “It’s not our sign.”
Lang told Reston Now that he also has spotted the same sign near Fox Mill Road and heard of other signs near McLean.
“I have no idea who put them up,” he said. “But they echo what [McAuliffe] has been saying at the debates and during the campaign.
At this point, it remains unclear who put the signs up as they’ve garnered some national attention.
Reston Now has reached out to the Youngkin campaign, but has yet to hear back as of publication. Reston Now has also reached out to the Virginia Department of Elections about if they could provide more information on the legality of such signs, but that information has yet to be provided.
With less than a week before the election for Virginia’s next governor, McAuliffe holds a very narrow lead in the polls over Youngkin.
David Taube contributed to this story
“I’ve already raised more than that in September alone,” Lang tells Reston Now. “Voters are paying attention and like what they see.”
However, due to Plum’s fundraising efforts earlier in the year, the incumbent far exceeds the challenger in regards to both overall cash raised and ending balances.
Plum has raised about $140,500 during this election cycle, while Lang is about a quarter of that at about $33,400. In terms of ending balances, Plum currently has about $73,000 in his coffers while Lang has about $13,600.
Plum’s highest fundraising months were in April and May while he was in a midst of primary challenge against Mary Barthelson, raising more than $50,000 in those two months alone. He won that race easily with about 77% of the vote.
Digging a bit deeper reveals that Lang’s funds since the beginning of the year have come from a mix of individual contributors and Republican-backed political action committees.
The PACs that have given money to Lang include the 11th Congressional District of VA Republican Committee, Virginia Wins (buoyed by a million dollar donation from Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin), and New Mission Commonwealth, which donates to Republican candidates who are veterans.
This a bit of a contrast to Plum, who mainly has gotten money from assorted companies, corporations, and labor unions as well as individual contributors and political actions committees.
The companies and corporations that have donated to Plum include several that are higher profile. This includes Westrock, America’s second-largest packaging company, waste management company Covanta Energy, Anthem Blue Cross And Blue Shield, and Total Wine & More (owned by Maryland Congressman and Democrat David Trone).
All of these companies have a presence in Virginia.
Additionally, Plum also received money this election cycle from Amazon, which is building a headquarters in nearby Arlington, and a cannabis company called Golden Piedmont Labs from South Boston, Virginia. In April, the General Assembly voted to legalize marijuana possession in Virginia and now are looking to speed up the ability to sell it for recreational purposes.
When asked about these contributions, Plum tells Reston Now that sometimes companies and corporations give without him knowing. But he would never let it factor into his decision-making process.
Additionally in July and August, Plum used a chunk of his considerable campaign chest to donate to other Democrats running in Virginia, including Irene Shin, who is running for the delegate seat in the nearby 86th District, and Wendy Gooditis vying for re-election in the 10th District. He also contributed money to Schuyler VanValkenburg’s campaign in the 72nd District and Chris Hurst’s in the 12th District.
“I can’t signalulary get the job done in Richmond,” he says about why he uses his campaign funds to help other candidates. “We need others who are progressive Democrats and share my values to get things done… it’s certainly worked recently.”
Plum says he plans on sending out more checks in the coming weeks to help other candidates.
Lang’s expenses in July and August were majority for consulting services, advertising, and fundraising event-related items.
The reports that were just filed this past week covered campaign financial information from July and August. The last report for this cycle will cover September and October items and will likely be released after the November election.
Early voting started this past Friday (September 17) and will continue to election day, November 2.
Campaign contributions to the Town of Herndon’s mayoral and town council races have been relatively sparse with Election Day just over a month away.
Campaign finance reports filed with the Virginia Department of Elections on Sept. 15 show that Sheila Olem and Roland Taylor, the two candidates seeking to replace outgoing Mayor Lisa Merkel, have received $925 and $957, respectively, in total contributions since January.
According to her latest campaign finance report, which covers the period from July 1 to Aug. 31, Olem received a $250 donation from Fairfax City Councilmember Janice Miller on Aug. 1. She also loaned $500 to her campaign in July and has gotten $175 in small cash donations since January.
Taylor, a public servant in local law enforcement, is responsible for all of the financial donations to his campaign.
By contrast, Merkel, who announced in January that she will step down at the conclusion of her fourth term as Herndon’s mayor, received more than $17,500 in contributions for all three of her reelection campaigns, topping $20,000 in both 2014 and 2016, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
Olem, who currently serves as Herndon’s vice mayor, attributes the sluggish rate of donations to the town’s mayoral contest to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, which is driven by close contact between people and, as a result, has limited candidates’ ability to interact with voters in-person.
Olem says she tries to keep supporters updated through email and Facebook, but she is aware that not everyone uses social media, and emails will not reach people unless they are on her campaign’s mailing list.
“That’s the most difficult part of it, and I don’t think that’s good for the voters,” Olem said. “I usually have several events, and then people will come and chat with me, and they’ll give donations. It’s just really hard this time.”
Sean Regan leads candidates for the Herndon Town Council in terms of campaign contributions.
A member of Herndon’s Planning Commission since 2012, Regan is one of 10 people vying for a seat on Herndon’s six-member town council.
The $6,710 in campaign contributions that Regan has reported to the state since January is more than twice as much as what any other candidate has accumulated, though much of that money comes out of his own pocket.
In addition to receiving $700 in cash donations, Regan has given $6,000 to his campaign in the form of a $2,000 direct donation and two separate $2,000 loans.
While Regan has the highest cumulative total of contributions, rival town council candidate Stevan Porter has attracted the most donors, receiving $2,583 from 18 different contributors as of Aug. 31.
Financial support for Porter’s campaign has mostly come from individual donors, but the IT professional and paramedic has also reported two separate $100 in-kind contributions from the Libertarian National Committee for the use of an eCanvasser campaign management system.
Total contributions to the other Herndon Town Council candidates’ campaign include:
- Clark Hedrick: $1,904 from 10 donors
- Jasbinder Singh: $803 from two donors
- Cesar del Aguila: $657 from himself
- Signe Friedrichs: $240 from three donors
Naila Alam, Bessie Denton, Pradip Dhakal, and Syed Iftikhar have not reported any campaign contributions as of Virginia’s Sept. 15 filing deadline for candidates who will be on the ballot for this November’s election. Denton and Iftikhar withdrew their candidacy after the results of the local Democratic caucus.
Virginia law requires that candidates seeking public office disclose all campaign contributions and expenditures to the state.
Full campaign finance reports for Herndon’s mayoral and town council candidates are available on the Virginia Department of Elections website.
Image via Town of Herndon
Maggie Parker, vice president of communications for Comstock Companies and a candidate for Hunter Mill District Supervisor, has received more funds than any candidate running for a district office seat in the county in a single reporting period this year. At least $108,323 of her campaign war chest was given by Comstock or Comstock-linked entities, the developer behind the massive redevelopment of Reston Station.
According to campaign finance reports filed on Tuesday (June 4), Parker’s campaign war chest ballooned over the last several weeks with $254,276 raised in the latest reporting period. She collected $155,375 — roughly 61 percent of total contributions — from 65 donors who contributed more than $100.
In the final stretch before the primary next week, Parker has raised more money in the last reporting period than all four of her challengers combined.
Although Parker spent most of her contributions — leaving her with $11,856 in the bank before the June 11 primary — campaign finance reports indicate Parker is backed by several contributors linked with the development community in Reston.
Former Fairfax County Planning Commissioner Walter Alcorn raised $31,774 over the last reporting period and had $26,821 in the bank. Most of his donations — $28,930 – came from 80 donors who gave more than $100.
Shyamali Hauth, a U.S. Air Force veteran and self-described community advocate, raised $12,366 and ended with a balance of $7,331. She received $6,172 from 22 donors who gave contributions of more than $100.
Laurie Dodd, a local lawyer, raised $9,285 and had $4,468 in the bank. Seven donors gave contributions of more than $100 to her campaign.
Meanwhile, Parker Messick‘s campaign coffers dried out with no donations of more than $100 and a total of $155 raised. He has $1,039 in the bank.
The primary for the Hunter Mill District Supervisor seat is on June 11.
Photo via Maggie Parker