|Dan Adams and Chris Abele|
candidate for Assembly District 19. I noted that Abele was not about to support County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic, who he has a strong personal animosity towards. Abele wasn't about to support Jonathan Brostoff because of Brostoff's close ties to State Senator Chris Larson, whom Abele also dislikes.
Things got weird when Abele hosted a fundraiser for Adams, but in his announcement, it was 90% Abele praising himself and condemning the county board. The actual fundraiser was listed as an afterthought.
The fundraiser was on the small side and filled either with candidates from other races or Abele's people. And at the fundraiser, neither Adams or Abele hid their mutual adoration:
Abele praised what he called the “real world experience” of the former assistant District Attorney who is now in private practice at Adams, Urfer, LLC. “It’s not about who sucks up to him,” Abele added.I also noted that most of his campaign contributions came from outside of Milwaukee County and outside of the state.
Abele stresses that he doesn’t “care what letter is behind your name,” when it comes to “D” or “R” politicians, but whether the officials can work across the aisle. “Dan’s the right guy and I will do everything I can to help him win.”
Adams returned the favor by calling Abele “the epitome of a public servant.” He thanked the attendees for braving the chilly weather to show up at the Belmont for his event, which featured a cash bar and a bunch of bags of chips that remained largely untouched. “Its so cold even downtown lawyers have their hands in their own pockets. Now I have my hands in the lawyers pockets,” he joked as he made an appeal for funds.
Since then, I have heard various accounts that Abele has pulled all the stops in his support of Adams. Word is that he is lending some of his minions to help Adams out with his campaign, from things like having operatives helping with the management of the campaign to doing opposition research.
(This isn't surprising since Abele has often been heard to brag about how he's building his "sphere of influence" in the state capitol. He obviously needs it since he is always running to Madison to get his Teapublican friends to pass laws every time he doesn't get his way.)
Now, this in itself might mean nothing, but Adams doesn't have any expenditures or in-kind donations on his campaign finance report except for a payment to his wife for his website and payments to Act Blue and to Office Depot. It might be that if Adams is indeed getting some help from Abele's camp, but those arrangements weren't made official until after the new year, so wouldn't show up on this report.
However, when I heard of this "assistance," I couldn't help but remember the peculiar news story how Abele dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money into his campaign fund- the only money he got for that period. It was peculiar because there are two years before the next election so Abele had no real need to do that, especially while he was sitting with $70,000 in it already. What also was peculiar was this (emphasis mine):
Chris Abele has only begun to tap his replenished campaign fund, spending more than $64,000 over the last few months of 2013 for an eclectic array of campaign advice. That includes about $14,000 over three months to Tia Torhorst, his political director and a former county adviser.Well, that would explain the rumors of Torhorst working for Adams and that Adams campaign headquarters happens to be the same as Abele's. It doesn't explain why there was nothing on Adam's campaign finance report.
She operates his downtown Milwaukee campaign office at 229 E. Wisconsin Ave.
Abele also shelled out more than $28,000 to Thomas Keeley, a media consultant with a roster of Republican clients, including U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson. Keeley handled social media during Johnson's successful defeat of Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold.
Abele paid another local campaign consultant, Brandon Savage, nearly $10,000 late last year. Abele also paid Graeme Zielinski, a former state Democratic Party spokesman, $10,000 in late July for unspecified research. Zielinski was dropped from his party spokesman role last March, after a dust up over a tweet he sent out comparing Gov. Scott Walker to serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.
Despite the hefty replenishment of his campaign account, Abele said he's not gearing up for a race for another office.
"I'm in the 1% of politicians who really mean it" when they say they aren't angling for another office, Abele said. "I love being here. I love what we're able to do.
"I am not thinking at all about any other office."
He's maintaining the campaign office in part "to help support other people who share my ideas about moving the country forward," Abele said.
As I said, this might be all above board and legitimate. We will have to see when the next campaign report comes out.
What is really curious though is that people in that district have told me that when they have spoken to Adams, he has really downplayed his relationship with Abele. Some people were even surprised to learn of their close relationship.
Now why would Adams do that? After all, he echoes Abele's positions on almost everything and owes him so much for his support. And as noted above, he thought Abele to be "the epitome of a public servant." But when it comes to interactions with actual voters, it's a whole other story.
Addendum: For what it's worth, I did try to speak to Adams about all this. He declined to talk to me at the time and hasn't called back.