The local media has touched on this potential lawsuit of an alleged “whisper campaign” by former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter. Her primary opponent, Shawn O’Connor, a New York businessman who moved to New Hampshire a few years ago to build momentum for a U.S. Senate run (since changed to run for US House), is accusing her of telling people that he is a “perpetrator of domestic violence.” (Read our full story on this.) The truth is that O’Connor is a the victim of domestic violence, a fact he made public only a few months ago at a local Democratic Party picnic.
Yesterday, it appears that more national media outlets are looking into this story as well. The Daily Kos’s daily election update posted this blurb on the NH District 1 race:
NH-01: Blargh. What an ugly mess that Democrats don’t need. Self-funding businessman Shawn O’Connor says he’s going to sue his primary opponent, ex-Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, for defamation, claiming that she’s accused him of domestic abuse through a “whispering campaign.” Shea-Porter has denied the allegations, calling them “bizarre” and “untruthful.” O’Connor, meanwhile, says that he was the victim of domestic abuse, and a Democratic state senator who endorsed him, David Pierce, claims a Shea-Porter confidante had pushed the O’Connor-as-abuser charge on him.
But Pierce wouldn’t name names, and he admitted he didn’t even know whether this unnamed, supposed rumor-monger was on Shea-Porter’s paid staff, or whether Shea-Porter herself even had anything to do with the alleged matter. O’Connor is demanding Shea-Porter apologize; if she doesn’t, he says he’ll file a lawsuit in the “coming weeks.” No matter what he thinks, though, this is not a winning move: Few primaries are won in court.
These are serious accusations and have yet to be fully proven. The Shea-Porter campaign vehemently denies these claims. The O’Connor campaign released a statement from State Senator David Pierce that claims a member of Shea-Porter’s “inner circle” pushed this rumor on him, though Pierce admitted he does not know if the person in question works for Shea-Porter’s campaign or if Shea-Porter has any knowledge of the rumor being spread.
I think that the Daily Kos nailed it by saying, “No matter what he thinks, though, this is not a winning move: Few primaries are won in court.”