Fresh position posts removed after inquiry
BOISE – Idaho GOP congressional candidate Vaughn Ward posted three new position statements on his website Tuesday morning – and portions of one of them, on the war in Iraq, matched nearly word-for-word a statement on a California congressman’s re-election campaign website.
The matchup in the wording follows Ward’s removal of all of his position statements from his campaign website last week after The Spokesman-Review reported that five of the 10 were identical to statements on other candidates’ or congressmen’s websites, including two that touted specific pending legislation in Congress that Ward, when questioned, said he hadn’t reviewed and didn’t necessarily support.
The latest similarity is to the website of freshman Congressman Duncan D. Hunter, the son of longtime congressman and former House Armed Services Committee chairman Duncan Hunter Sr., who has campaigned for Ward. Ward and the younger Hunter are Marine veterans who both served in combat in Iraq.
New Ward campaign spokesman Mike Tracy said Hunter and Ward “have shared a lot of material in the past few months, and share the same ideals and the same values on the Iraq war.”
However, the campaign immediately removed all three new position statements after The Spokesman-Review inquired about them on Tuesday.
Tracy, a longtime Idaho GOP strategist who became the campaign’s spokesman after campaign manager Ryan O’Barto resigned on Friday, said, “There was something put up without my approval, and I’ve made it very clear … that we didn’t want anything up until it had been cleared by me.” He said, “We have taken those issues down until I have a chance to review everything thoroughly, and I take the responsibility for that at this point.”
In addition to the statement on the war in Iraq, the other statements posted Tuesday morning were a new position statement on health care and a statement on immigration that’s identical to one of Ward’s earlier statements; neither appeared to match other websites.
Though Ward said Thursday that he expected to have new position statements posted by the end of that day, none had been posted as of 7 p.m. Monday.
“We just want to make sure that everything and every step we take … is absolutely accurate and that there are no issues and no problems with anything that we’re doing,” Tracy said Monday night.
Ward is facing state Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, in next Tuesday’s GOP primary for a chance to take on 1st District Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick in November.
Labrador’s campaign said the website problems are a sign of “character issues,” and Labrador said, “It’s really disappointing to see a young man who has served his country honorably … to see there may be problems of credibility and maybe of honesty.”
The position statements posted Tuesday morning were under “issues” in the “Meet Vaughn” section of the campaign website; links that formerly led to position statements under the heading “Fighting for Idaho Values” on the main page still were inactive.