WNC Super PAC Used Questionable Practices to Smear Reps. Cawthorn and Beobert - TribPapers

WNC Super PAC Used Questionable Practices to Smear Reps. Cawthorn and Beobert

Local Super PAC admits to lying to defame political candidates

Asheville – The dust has settled after the North Carolina election primaries, and with that, some interesting information has come up about a little known Super PAC from right here in Western North Carolina. 

Even with multiple infractions coming out against him, like trying to enter a plane while armed and exceeding speed limits and reckless driving, Cawthorn still only lost by a slim margin to NC state senator Chuck Edwards. 

Super PAC from WNC Takes Credit

Perhaps the killing blow for Cawthorn was a crass video of Cawthorn and his school buddies in a compromising situation that was found and released by American Muckrakers, a Super PAC founded by David Wheeler, living in Spruce Pine, and Mo Davis, of Shelby. According to the Federal Election Commission, American Muckrakers was formed in April 2021 as a single-candidate Democrat super PAC against Madison Cawthorn (R).

Mo Davis, USAF retired, ran against Cawthorn in the 2020 election and lost. Davis looks like a model citizen until you look at his language and tweets throughout the years and in his campaign. He has advocated for violence multiple times, often using the same hate speech terminology. It got so bad that the Citizen-Times, WLOS, FOX, and others, reported on his behavior. 

One of the tweets he used often was, “Screw they go low, we go high bull***t. When @NCGOP extremists go low, we stomp their scrawny pasty necks with our heels, and once you hear the sound of a crisp snap, you grind your heel hard and twist it slowly side to side for good measure.” 

In addition to making fun of Cawthorn’s disability, just before Christmas he said of NC Christians who are Trump supporters that they are, “a klan of un-Christlike hypocrites who betray everything Jesus stood for.” Even before that he said, “you can’t be for @realDonaldTrump and for Jesus.” Davis also called the voters of WNC “hillbillies,” and made derogatory remarks about First Lady Melania Trump. These are the least graphic comments, fit for print.

Davis even went so far as to call Cawthorn a domestic terrorist, saying he was worse than Guantanamo prisoners, and tweeted, “It’s time we start a domestic war on sedition by American terrorists.” Calling for a domestic war is dangerous for anyone whose run for office, and has a large social media following.

What is a Super PAC?

Super PACs are groups formed primarily to make “independent expenditures” in connection with federal elections and which register and file reports with the Federal Election Commission (“FEC”). In other words, they collect money to either support or oppose political candidates through websites, direct mail, social media, and advertisements. They can not, however, give money to support campaigns directly. 

According to politicallawbriefing.com, “Unlike traditional federal PACs, a super PAC may accept unlimited contributions from corporations and unions and unlimited amounts from individual contributors so long as they are U.S. citizens or green card holders. Super PACs can do virtually anything to independently support or oppose candidates. Often they air advertisements on radio and television, but they may also create websites, use social media, and can even develop a ground game to identify voters and get-out-the vote.”

This particular Super PAC was created and seems to only exist to defame certain candidates, and Cawthorn was their first. They are taking full credit for ousting Cawthorn, for whom they created a website called FireMadisonCawthorn.com, which gives a laundry list of things Cawthorn allegedly did. However, it has been noted that they don’t always seem to care if what they post is true, and they frequently cite only anonymous sources. 

Their Next Victim?

Even though they live here in WNC, they recently reset their purpose with the FEC and have turned their sights on Colorado congresswoman Lauren Boebert. In May of this year, Wheeler was quoted by Business Insider as saying, “I think we’re gonna go after Lauren Boebert in Colorado in a similar way. I think we’re gonna engage in that race pretty quickly.” He went on to say that what they have on Boebert is, “Not as salacious as some of the Cawthorn stuff,”  and that it involves her finances rather than steamy pics. They again created a web page, fireboebert.com, seeking tips on information, pictures, videos, or documents on Boebert or her associates. They even threatened her with a tweet by @FireBoebert reads, “Hi @RepBoebert – Ask @RepCawthorn about us. We look forward to getting to know you.”

Instead of posting financial information on the site, they have, in fact, posted pictures, accused her of being a paid escort, having two abortions, and doing drugs, all of which Boebert vehemently denies. In an interview on Fox Boebert said, “This is the politics of personal destruction and this is why people hate politics. I just want you to put this into perspective. I head home tonight, and I have to explain to my nine year old what an escort is and that mom never did that. I have to reassure my four boys that I didn’t have two abortions and that they don’t have two siblings that never made it. This is absolutely disgusting. It’s sick and it needs to stop.” Beobert plans to file a defamation suit against American Muckrakers. 

Admission of Guilt

In a June 25th, 2022 article by CNN titled, Fact check: Democratic group makes multiple false claims in its dramatic allegations about Lauren Boebert’s past, “American Muckrakers PAC co-founder David Wheeler acknowledged to CNN that the super PAC had been ‘sloppy’ and had published ‘inaccuracies’ on its anti-Boebert website.” His comments came after fact-checkers for CNN found that the super PAC had made at least five false statements about Boebert, along with a series of uncorroborated assertions that Boebert says are false.

American Muckrakers, which seems to consist of only three people, took in total donations of $217,638.79, with total expenditures of $194,143.20. Out of the donations David Wheeler was paid around $44,000.00, and nearly $5,000.00 went to Moe Davis for Congress, which is against the rules of a Super PAC. Another $50,000.00 went to Sapphire Strategies, a company that offers comprehensive digital strategy to help progressive campaigns and causes. 

The question is, how do you keep these Super PACs accountable?