The bad publicity for Linda McMahon in Connecticut just keeps on coming, despite going into hiding shortly after spending almost $100 million to get trounced in two consecutive U.S. Senate elections. Not only were her duplicitous attempts to position herself as an independent minded friend of Barack Obama to urban voters an utter failure at picking up any extra support, now the African American campaign canvassers who did her dirty work are baying for their pound of flesh.
A couple of days after the election complaints started emerging in New Haven from local door knockers, who had been told to pretend to be "volunteers" by Linda McMahon's campaign staff, that they hadn't been paid for their election day work on the night itself as had been promised:
Twaine Don Gomes even claimed that when he called about his money at the campaign's headquarters he was told "Haven't you heard, we lost, we're not paying another red cent." McMahon's campaign manager Corry Bliss said the hold up was due to people being dishonest about the hours they worked in the city, so they were in the process of verifying each claim before sending checks out in the post. He stressed that "Every single person who worked will be paid for every single hour they worked". But not a penny more, of course. The McMahon family now needs to tighten their purse strings, after all!
This led to farcical scenes on Nov. 12th with people queuing up to get paid rather than waiting for their checks in the post, while Luisa Guerra, the woman responsible for running McMahon's New Haven office, complained about being harassed and cited a lack of time to hand out checks in person after the polls closed on election night for the delay:
Despite finally getting their cash, Casandra Lowery and Charly Huckabee-Lytell voiced their disappointment to News 8 that it took so long for Linda McMahon to pay up:
"It took us calling News Channel 8 to get paid and that's sad," said Lowery....
I did give her trust just the same way she gave me trust," said Charly Huckabee-Lytell, "so it shouldn't have had to come down to this.
"It was sad because we did an honest day of work so she should have been an honest woman and paid us at the end of the night," said Lowery.
However, some people walked away empty handed, being told to wait for the check that was already in the mail. One person in particular wasn't happy with this arrangement, the ringleader Twaine Don Gomes wanted extra compensation for all the hassle the McMahon campaign's tardiness had caused him:
Gomes didn’t want to settle for the promised hourly wage. He said he wanted to be made whole—for all the "pain and suffering" he endured in the episode.
What pain and suffering, exactly?
"My mental anguish," he said, "making me walk three hours to get home." He worked the Lombard Street firehouse. He said the campaign promised workers rides home. He claimed that when the ride didn’t materialize, he had to first walk an elderly woman, a fellow campaign worker, home to City Point, then walk to his own home in the Dixwell neighborhood.
He also spoke of "missing out on bills that were due."
And, he said, "I’m scared. I’m going through a lot. I don’t even know if I’ll ever want to work for a campaign again."
Clearly, there is a streak of opportunism in his complaints, but the McMahon campaign got themselves into this mess by quibbling over nickles and dimes, instead of coughing up on time. Surely, they dotted their i's and crossed their t's after all the aggravation to prevent a second round of bad publicity?
No, worse was to come on Monday night, as many of the checks in the mail bounced:
Troy Stokes of M&M Check Cashing Co. was upset that he was out $1,600 after the checks dated Nov. 8th all bounced. Kate Duffy, another of Linda's spokespeople, blamed attempted double dipping by people who got their checks early:
"Checks have been mailed to campaign workers. Replacement checks were issued for those who did not want to wait for the mail. The original checks were then voided once replacement checks were issued."
However, Evette Brown, insisted that she only ever received one check, after waiting for the original one in the mail, and claimed that she couldn't cash it in once she received it:
"I'm not blaming Mrs. McMahon for this, I'm not bashing anyone," Brown said, "but I just want my pay for 16 hours."
In her case, it looks like a genuine oversight, as it must have been hard to keep track of who had and hadn't been paid. But Gomes reared his head on TV again to make even more outlandish stories about receiving an unexpected bonus with his bounced check:
"Basically he handed me a check with a condom in it, told me I was screwed," Gomes said. "That's the rudest gesture you can ever do to a person, it's like spitting in a person's face."
I wouldn't rule it out completely, as Corry Bliss is a nasty piece of work, which was evidenced by telling Republican Chris Shays how he desperately needed psychiatric care after being criticised for his handling of Linda's campaign, but still you would think even he wouldn't be so stupid to order something guaranteed to get his paymaster more horrendous PR. Duffy claimed that Gomes' condom allegations were "blatantly false", while the wrongly bounced checks were a misunderstanding.
True or false, these accusations will hinder Linda McMahon's attempts to lose the tag of national political laughingstock after her campaign turned into a train wreck in the closing weeks. Indeed, Connor Simpson enjoyed poking fun at Linda in a column for The Atlantic Wire in what we can only hope is the last debacle of a terrible year for her:
"These are pretty unseemly tactics, but they might just fit McMahon's 'heel' persona, which has speculation into the report's veracity running rampant. McMahon ran as a Republican, but a few days before the election she was handing out flyers branding herself an independent and connecting herself to the president. At her old job, in the theater of professional wresting, that's called a 'heel turn.' Handing a condom to campaign staffer who just wants to get paid is the real life equivalent a wrestler ragging on the city they're in. It's cheap bad-guy stuff, really.
Which is probably why the McMahon campaign told the Hartford Courant the report is, "blatantly false." Considering she spent around $100 million of her own money on the campaign already, closing her wallet now just seems petty and cheap. The McMahons have a fortune the size of Scrooge McDuck, she should have no trouble finding a few gold coins to hand out to these poor people who volunteered to work for her. "