December 24, 2010

Political insider admits role creating Cutler Files website

Dennis Bailey says targeting the gubernatorial candidate 'sort of backfired'

By Beth Quimby bquimby@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Dennis Bailey, a political consultant who owns a public relations firm in Portland, has acknowledged he was one of the creators of The Cutler Files, a website that targeted independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler.

click image to enlarge

Dennis Bailey

READ Dennis Bailey's blog about his involvment with The Cutler Files.

Bailey, the owner of Savvy Inc., revealed his role in The Cutler Files on Thursday night on his website, SavvySpin.com, ending months of speculation in the media and political circles. Bailey had earlier denied any knowledge of the site's creators.

"It was a short-lived website launched with all the best of intentions that sort of backfired," Bailey wrote on his website.

The Cutler Files site, which went offline last month, has been investigated by the state Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices since Cutler's campaign filed complaints. Cutler contended that the website contained false information and probably violated Maine election laws.

The ethics commission questioned Bailey at one point in its investigation. It determined this week that the website violated Maine's election laws for not having a disclaimer that the site was not paid for or authorized by any candidate or political party. The commission, which declined to identify the two creators of the site, said it would fine one of them $200.

Cutler declined to comment Thursday night.

Cutler's campaign manager, Ted O'Meara, said Thursday night that he was not surprised to learn that Bailey was behind the website.

"The only reason Mr. Bailey went out with his own admission was that the news media were going to make it public very soon," O'Meara said.

O'Meara said the website had nothing to do with freedom of speech.

"The whole thing was a really sleazy, cowardly effort to try to destroy one of the candidates," he said. "We are pleased at least one of the names has been made public."

Bailey did not reveal the identity of his co-creator, other than to say that he or she had political connections.

In the 2010 gubernatorial election, Bailey was a consultant to Shawn Moody, an independent candidate, and earlier to Rosa Scarcelli, a candidate who lost in the Democratic primary.

In October, The Portland Press Herald was contacted by several people who anonymously identified Bailey, Scarcelli and her husband, Thomas Rhoads, a writer and researcher, as authors of The Cutler Files.

Scarcelli said at the time that she and her husband had nothing to do with the website.

In an e-mail to the Press Herald on Oct. 26, Rhoads said: "I can unequivocally state that I am not the author, owner or creator of The Cutler Files, nor did I post any information on it or any other website. ... I don't know why my name is being brought into this. It's pure rumor."

In a phone interview Thursday night, Bailey said he didn't know anything about a report on the Lewiston Sun Journal's website identifying Rhoads as Bailey's co-creator.

He declined to comment further, saying "we have all made way too much of this. People can read it on the blog."

He said on his website that one reason he was less than candid about his role in The Cutler Files was to protect Moody.

Moody told the Sun Journal on Wednesday that he had no knowledge of Bailey's involvement with The Cutler Files.

Bailey said he and his co-creator decided to write anonymously to allow the material to speak for itself, to prevent readers from concluding that a political candidate or party was behind the website and to avoid a frivolous lawsuit.

He said on his website that "we stand by everything we wrote on The Cutler Files. To this day no one -- not a reporter, an editor or even Cutler himself -- has contradicted a single statement on The Cutler Files."

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

bquimby@pressherald.com

 

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