By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Tag: birther

Hudak’s new venture hits an amusing snag

Blast from the past: the Hudakmobile, circa 2009

Far-right Republican politico William Hudak’s recent announcement that he was abandoning a congressional race in order to get involved in a multi-level marketing operation was amusing enough. But the comedy factor increased exponentially Tuesday when Julie Manganis reported in the Salem News that Hudak’s new business partner had pleaded guilty to promoting prostitution.

Albert Muir and his then-wife, Manganis writes, ran a “health spa” in Branford, Conn., called Marlow’s, which was shut down by authorities in late 2009. Muir, who is also described as a professional poker player, is serving a five-year suspended sentence. He told the News that he pleaded guilty because he was afraid his then-wife, who was seeking a divorce, would send him up the river.

Here is Marcia Chambers’ Branford Eagle account of the police raid of Dec. 2, 2009, which came about in part because Marlow’s openly advertised its services on Craigslist. Chambers reported that police considered the spa to be “a full-scale prostitution ring.” Muir’s then-wife, Jazmin Benavides, is named in the article, but Muir is not, although Mark Zaretsky of the New Haven Register identified Muir as the co-owner. Chambers told me by email yesterday that Muir was arrested and charged in March 2010 after police conducted a follow-up investigation.

Hudak says he didn’t know nothin’ about nothin’. As Manganis notes, Hudak made much of the legal woes facing Democratic congressman John Tierney’s family when he ran against him two years ago. Tierney’s wife, Patrice Tierney, ended up doing time for her role in what federal authorities described as an offshore money-laundering operation run by her brother. But Hudak tells the News that “I think you’re really stretching” when he was asked whether he should have known about his new BFF’s legal woes.

When Hudak ran against Tierney in 2010, he achieved notoriety for putting up posters on his Boxford property comparing then-candidate Barack Obama to Osama bin Laden and for questioning whether Obama was born in the United States — although he denied that he actually believed Obama was not an American citizen.

Hudak also claimed the day after Scott Brown’s victory over Martha Coakley in the 2010 U.S. Senate special election that Brown had endorsed him in the Republican primary. Brown’s office denied it, but then endorsed Hudak over Tierney that fall.

Unfortunately for Tierney, he won’t get to run against Hudak again. This time, the leading candidate for the Republican nomination is former state senator Richard Tisei of Wakefield, who was Charlie Baker’s running mate in the gubernatorial election in 2010.

Tisei is a smart, personable moderate. Combined with Tierney’s family issues, the North Shore probably represents the Republicans’ best chance to pick up a congressional seat in Massachusetts this fall.

Bullied by sociopaths

I have very little to say about President Obama’s decision to release his long-form birth certificate, but I will offer this: No white president would have been pressured into this. And my gut tells me Obama shouldn’t have done it, as it makes him look like he’s been bullied by sociopaths.

Although I don’t hold out much hope, I do think this is a splendid occasion for executives at mainstream news organizations to think about the consequences of “covering the controversy” as opposed to calling out people like Donald Trump as the lying jackasses that they are.

Yes, there’s been some of that. But not nearly enough.

Brown endorses Hudak, a man he once shunned

Scott Brown

Nine months after just-elected U.S. Sen. Scott Brown scrambled to disassociate himself from extremist Republican congressional candidate William Hudak, Brown has endorsed Hudak as part of a blanket endorsement of all nine Republicans running for the U.S. House from Massachusetts.

You may recall that, last January, Hudak put out a press release touting Brown’s endorsement — and that after Media Nation reminded folks of some of Hudak’s antics, including questioning Barack Obama’s citizenship and putting a poster on his property comparing Obama to Osama bin Laden, the Brown camp quickly disavowed the endorsement. Hudak eventually apologized to Brown, but insisted, despite considerable evidence to the contrary, that he has never held birther views.

Hudak, a Boxford lawyer, is challenging U.S. Rep. John Tierney, a Salem Democrat.

Brown, in today’s announcement, also says that he’s contributing $1,000 to each of the nine candidates. He says nothing specific about Hudak or anyone else. It’s really just a matter of a Republican senator routinely endorsing his party’s nominees. Still, it’s an amusing coda to a long-simmering controversy.

In other Hudak-related news, the National Republican Congressional Committee has announced that it now considers Hudak to be “On the Radar” — a sign that Republicans believe Tierney may be vulnerable now that his wife, Patrice Tierney, has pled guilty to federal tax-fraud charges. And perhaps he is.

Tierney and Hudak will meet tonight at 7:30 in a debate sponsored by the Salem News and the Jewish Journal. Should be a wild time.

The company that Charlie Baker keeps

The Hudakmobile

Scot Lehigh has a splendid column in today’s Boston Globe on Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker’s recent close encounter with William Hudak, a political extremist who has flirted with the birther movement.

Lehigh writes that “there are pretty clear signs that Hudak has wandered well north of the border that separates a hyperbolic political hopeful from a poisonous, insidious kook.” Hudak, a Boxford lawyer, is running for Congress against Democratic incumbent John Tierney this fall.

Anyone who has followed the Hudak saga over the past several months will be familiar with the inept shuffle he gives Lehigh as he tries to deny he ever believed President Obama was not born in the United States. More to the point, though, Lehigh criticizes Baker, a purported moderate, for attending a Hudak fundraiser, writing:

Yes, Baker’s camp disavows Hudak’s views. Yet a candidate is also known by the company he keeps. And it speaks poorly of Baker that he’s willing to countenance Hudak to court his supporters.

As Lehigh acknowledges, the story of Baker’s appearance was broken earlier this month by David Bernstein of the Boston Phoenix. Lehigh also credits Media Nation for assembling some of Hudak’s most toxic materials.

You may recall that this all started with Hudak’s claiming the day after U.S. Sen. Scott Brown’s victory over Martha Coakley that Brown had endorsed his candidacy. After I posted evidence of Hudak’s extremism, the Brown people made it clear that there had never been an endorsement — and even though Brown is generally thought to be more conservative than Baker, the senator has wisely kept his distance from Hudak ever since.

Poll illuminates tea-partiers’ views on race

Thanks to Greg Mitchell’s Twitter feed, I know far more about the New York Times/CBS News poll of tea-party supporters than I would have if I’d relied solely on the Times’ polite take. (The Times does better with an interactive presentation of the complete results.) What you really want to do is check out CBS News’ coverage, starting here. A few findings that are worth pondering:

  • Fewer than half — 41 percent — believe President Obama was born in the United States. Thirty percent flatly declare that Obama was born in another country, and another 29 percent don’t know. In other words, 59 percent of tea-partiers are either hard-core or soft-core birthers.
  • Then again, 32 percent of Republicans believe Obama was born in another country.
  • Eighteen percent of Americans identify with the tea-party movement, and just one percent of them are black. Not surprisingly, 52 percent of this overwhelmingly white group say that too much is made of the problems facing black people, and one-fourth believe the Obama administration favors blacks over whites.
  • Fifty-four percent are Republicans, and 41 percent are independents. Given that 73 percent say they’re conservatives, it stands to reason that most of the independents are politically to the right of where they perceive the Republican Party to be. Just 5 percent say they are Democrats.
  • Sixty-four percent believe a flat-out falsehood (other than the birther falsehood): that taxes for most Americans have risen during the Obama presidency. In fact, they have fallen.
  • And here’s the explanation: 63 percent say they get most of their news from the Fox News Channel, and large majorities hold favorable view of Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin.
  • While anger is a prime motivating factor, tea-party “activists” turn out to be even angrier than mere supporters: 72 percent of activists are mad as hell, compared to 53 percent of supporters.

Conclusion: Anyone who thinks the tea-party movement isn’t motivated by racial fears is deluding him- or herself.

William Hudak checks in

In the comments.

Hudak used birther code name for Obama

Republican congressional candidate William Hudak has apologized to Sen.-elect Scott Brown for incorrectly claiming that Brown had endorsed his campaign. But questions remain about Hudak who, in the face of evidence to the contrary, continues to insist that he’s not a birther. A statement issued by the Hudak campaign includes this:

“What is most distressing is the extent to which left-wing bloggers continue to use smear tactics, including trying to portray me as a ‘birther’ and falsely denigrate and accuse Senator-elect Brown of being of that belief,” Hudak said. “Let me make clear that while I don’t agree with everything he does, President Obama is our President and I believe he was born in the United States, and accusations that he was not are unsupported nonsense and non-issues to the business of our country,” Hudak remarked.

Hudak is right — claims that Obama was not born in the United States are indeed “unsupported nonsense.” But in a Web video sent to me by a reader, Hudak refers to Obama as “Barry Soetoro.” Obama was known as Barry Soetoro (his stepfather’s last name) when he attended school in Indonesia. According to, some elements of the birther movement have seized on that fact in the hopes of proving either that Obama was not born in the U.S., or that he gave up his American citizenship at some point.

The video interview, which Hudak did with a woman who calls herself the Ultimate First Amendment Patriot, is devoted to the various stickers Hudak has plastered on his truck. Following a discussion of Thomas Jefferson, Hudak says (around the 2:09 mark):

The way that this is being handled is by the folks in Washington, such as Miss Pelosi, who I quite frankly characterize with a caricature as Porky Pelosi. In this commonwealth of Massachusetts, another gentleman by the name of Mr. Patrick, who I characterize as Tax Patrick on the back, as well as the king honcho, Mr. Obama, who is also known, or not so widely known, as Barry Soetoro. These are the gentlemen and the ladies who are the inspirational leaders for turning America into more of a socialistic country than the American democracy that we are designed and founded on and our traditions.

Toward the end of the video, we are treated to some shots of his truck, including his “NOBAMA” license plate and a huge message on the back that plays on Obama’s name with “One Big Ass Mistake America.”

Recall, too, that before yesterday, the only two newspapers that had ever reported Hudak believed Obama was not a native-born American were the Tri-Town Transcript and the Salem News. Editors at both papers have told Media Nation that Hudak never sought a correction.

Finally, a clarification. I’ve been a little hazy on the sequence by which the Transcript and the News first reported that Hudak held birther views, and that he’d put up a sign in his yard depicting Obama as Osama bin Laden.

As I have noted, the Transcript reported it first, in November 2008. But Nelson Benton’s column in the Salem News came nearly a year later, in September 2009. The reason the Transcript did not identify Hudak as a congressional candidate is that he was not running at that point. Hudak announced his candidacy in August 2009.

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