Wednesday, December 4, 2013
The campaign of independent U.S. Senate candidate Angus King denounced a conservative blog Thursday for attacking his wife.
Former First Lady Barbara Bush, right, shares a laugh with former Maine First Lady Mary Herman, left, in this June 2001 file photo. Angus King's campaign is blasting a conservative website's attack on Ms. Herman, his wife, as crossing the line. (AP Photo/Joel Page)
Breitbart.com published a piece Thursday that criticized Mary Herman's recent fundraising appeal to King supporters.
In a post headlined "Angus King sends wife trolling for money," the writer compared Herman's appeal to donors to the "ubiquitous whining, moaning and begging" of President Obama.
The writer also mentioned "rumors that Angus had an affair with Mary while he was married to his first wife."
Such rumors had not been reported or mentioned in any mainstream media outlet. The King campaign, responding to what it said were multiple media inquiries about the Breitbart piece, linked to the post in a news release later in the day.
Crystal Canney, King's spokeswoman, said the post was a personal attack against Herman. "This is a new low," she said. "This is not journalism. It's a tabloid attack. It does feel like a line has been crossed."
The writer of the post, William Bigelow, mocked the fundraising email that Herman sent to supporters Wednesday.
"When my husband decided to run for Senate, we knew the campaign would be hard at times, but nothing -- not even the eight years when Angus served as governor -- could have prepared us for this," Herman wrote.
Bigelow pasted the quote in his post, followed by the comment, "She's right. Nothing, not even the rumors that Angus had an affair with Mary while he was married to his first wife, could have prepared them for this."
The Portland Press Herald attempted to reach Bigelow by email. Although he initially responded to the inquiry, he did not answer questions about why he felt confident publishing an unsourced rumor.
Breitbart.com was founded by Andrew Breitbart, a conservative activist who died earlier this year. The site touts itself as a news service but has been assailed by some as an advocacy organization that publishes attacks on Democratic or progressive public figures to bolster Republican politicians and causes.
The site has recently hosted stories attacking King's involvement in the wind power industry. One post included material that had been published in The Maine Wire, a spinoff site for the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a conservative advocacy group whose former executive director, Lance Dutson, is now campaign manager for Charlie Summers, King's Republican opponent in the Senate race.
The Breitbart posts on wind power were widely circulated in news releases and Twitter by the Maine Republican Party and the Summers campaign.
Reached Thursday evening, Summers spokesman Drew Brandewie said he wasn't aware of the Breitbart post about King's wife.
Asked if the rumor in the post originated from the Summers campaign, Brandewie said, "No."
Summers, in a written statement, denounced the attack.
"As someone whose wife is closely involved with my campaign, these types of attacks cross a sacred line, are completely reprehensible, and have no place in this campaign," Summers said.
Democratic nominee Cynthia Dill responded to the Breitbart post in a written statement.
"I am appalled by this hurtful and vicious development. It has no place in Maine," she said. "Personal attacks against family members cross a line of trust. Today Mary Herman might be under attack, tomorrow it could be Charlie's wife or my husband."
-- Staff Writer John Richardson contributed to this report.
Staff Writer Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at: