Friday, August 7, 2009

Oxendine campaign accused of bullying Young Republican (Update)

Posted By on Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 4:36 PM

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Kyle Constable of Leesburg, Ga., is a model Young Republican. The 15-year-old was elected sophomore class president at Lee County High School and unanimously chosen to be treasurer for the Georgia Teen Republicans at the statewide convention in June. He has volunteered for presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, is on the school debate team and maintains his own blog. Not surprisingly, when he grows up, he'd like to be involved in politics.

But yesterday, young Kyle ended a posting with this hard-earned observation:

Well I guess I’m finally starting to experience the “dirty politics” I’ve been told about.

What happened to shake this fresh-faced junior GOPer's faith in the democratic process?

Earlier this week, Kyle had been excited to see that Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine had launched an anti-Obamacare website. Although I'd earlier mused that Oxendine could be using the site as a way to gather names and e-mail addresses for his own gubernatorial campaign, Kyle wasn't quite so jaded:

I completely agree with this movement and I believe it is crucial! I actually just got off the phone with the Oxendine campaign and they said over 900 people have already signed up since its launch! And there has been some confusion that people who sign up might start receiving Oxendine campaign emails. This is FALSE because as we speak they are switching servers so that won’t happen to anyone. So please show your support and sign the petition today!

However, young Kyle soon discovered he'd been deceived … well, let's let him tell it, from a posting entitled I Won’t Be Silent About the Oxendine Campaign:

After I signed up for it I saw it put you on the Oxendine for Governor email database. I wrote an article saying the site was a “scam” and that if you don’t want Oxendine emails, don’t sign their “petition.” That was published at 1:30pm. At around 2:00pm, I received a message from Gabe Winslow, the Oxendine Campaign Web Strategist, on Facebook asking me to call him. So I did. So for a half an hour I talked with Gabe Winslow and Jeff Breedlove, the Oxendine Campaign Chief Strategist.

First, I was scolded for putting the post up. They said that I should be spreading the positive about it and not saying anything else. Second, I was told I was “questioning the integrity of John” which in a way may have been true, but they never actually cleared up whether or not I should have. They said I had done it by saying he would take people’s email addresses and send campaign emails to them. I asked them if that was true. Both of them dodged my question and kept telling me it didn’t matter because I had questioned Ox’s integrity.

These two members of the Oxendine campaign, Jeff Breedlove and Gabe Winslow bullied me into changing my story and they still expect me to support Oxendine for Governor. Let me say this, I’m DONE with the Oxendine campaign, I’m sure that there’s someone better out there than your campaign. After the way I was disrespected and disregarded on that phone call I have NO INTENTION WHATSOEVER of remaining a part of your campaign.

Although Kyle may be the youngest Republican to complain of strong-arming by the Ox's peeps, he's certainly not the first. Over at SWGA Politics, blogger Jeff Sexton writes:

Back in April, shortly after ‘Ox and Liberty, Part 1‘ came out, Breedlove called me and basically threatened me to stop writing bad things about Ox or else.

Sexton says he called Breedlove's bluff and hasn't heard from them again. Now, keep in mind, these are hard-core Republicans who are accusing the Ox's campaign of trying to silence dissent.

UPDATE (by Thomas Wheatley): Apparently, there was difficulty determining whether Constable was a campaign supporter or an online journalist. Here's the campaign's official statement:

Over the past several months, Gabe Winslow, our 28 year old web strategy director, has had numerous conversations with 15-year-old blogger Kyle Constable. Kyle’s call to our campaign on Wednesday was to ask how we were using the emails from the

“I had a good conversation with Kyle today, and so did our strategist, Jeff Breedlove,” said Gabe Winslow. “He had some good suggestions and we modified our site based on his good advice.”

“Kyle’s feeling of being bullied saddens me,” said Breedlove. “We certainly did not intend to hurt anyone’s feelings or have them feel like we were bossing them around. His own blog posts seem to indicate that the feeling was mutual.”

An Oxendine spokesman tells CL that Constable never explicitly stated whether he was a part of the campaign or not.

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