Doug Hoffman recently posted a new fundraising letter on his blog. Now, I know some of you might be wondering why the guy is trying to raise money for an election that already happened. It's simple, really. He wants to keep fighting until he gets the seat in Congress that ACORN stole from him.
No, really, that's what he's claiming (if you click the link, make sure you note the url):
As evidence surfaces, we find out that reported results from election night were far from accurate. ACORN and the unions did their best to try and sway the results to Obamacare supporter Bill Owens.
(Also, note that he never gets around to specifying which unions. Apparently, that's because all of them were out to get him.)
The "evidence" that Hoffman cites in his letter, is unsurprisingly, nothing of the sort. He's taken the mistakes that were uncovered in the election night vote totals - which have narrowed the gap between him and Representative Bill Owens. The mistakes were the kind of thing that happen in every election - results get miscopied, phone problems happen, things go wrong. Most people see election night errors as a good reason to double check the results after the election. Hoffman sees them as evidence of the involvement of that fantastic wingnut all-purpose boogeyman ACORN:
Oswego County elections officials blame the mistakes on "chaos" in their call-in center that included a phone system foul-up, and on inspectors who read numbers incorrectly when phoning in results. This sounds like a tactic right from the ACORN playbook.
The skeptic in me, by the way, has to wonder just how much Hoffman's decision to claim ACORN stole his election was influenced by a recent poll showing that over half of Republicans believe that ACORN stole the 2008 election for Obama.
But that's not what I'm here to talk about. I'm here to talk about defamation. Or ask about it, anyway.
I'm not a lawyer, and I know that slander and libel are extremely complicated subjects, but the postscript at the end of Hoffman's letter is really making me wonder if he might actually have crossed the line:
P.S. I ran a different kind of campaign, one where Conservatives, Republicans, Libertarians, Tea Party and 9/12 activists rallied around. ACORN, the unions and Democratic Party were scared, and that's why they tampered with the ballots of voters in NY-23. Will you please contribute today so we can show them that fair elections are the Will of the People? Thank you.
"[T]hat's why they tampered with the ballots of voters in NY-23." That's not a carefully phrased Beckian accusation-phrased-as-question. It doesn't hint, hedge, qualify, or beat around the bush in any way. That's a simple declarative statement that ACORN, the Democratic Party, and (unspecified) unions engaged in criminal elections fraud. According to his spokesman, Hoffman will present evidence to support that accusation "when and if" they decide to challenge the election.
In the absence of anything that bears even a faint resemblance to "evidence", I'm left wondering if Hoffman went far enough to open himself to a civil defamation claim. Anyone got any ideas?