With the Special Investigator shutting down an inconclusive inquiry into charges of sexual misconduct involving lawmakers, I reached out to Al Gerhart(AG), a long-time Tea Party leader and citizen journalist (that's what us bloggers like to call ourselves), who played a key role in reporting the claims and the process.
Gerhart wasn't all that comfortable with the tables turned and him being the subject. But I promised him that I'd let him see and refute my final draft. I did. He did. And here's the narrative, as he responded to my questions.
SP: Good evening, Al. I just read an account of an investigatory project you've spent a lot of effort on. Do you agree with the content of Tres Savage's narrative?
AG: Hi David, no, I do not agree with Savage's narrative. The fact that McDugle and Kannaday dominated the story calling me a liar and Savage not printing most of our interview is proof of that.
SP: I recall that you were very enthusiastic about Rep. McDugle throughout most of his first regular session. Was it really his early bill on raising the statute of limitation to 40 years that... and I quote, " He was really pissed off when I raised the statute"..?
SP: Yeah, I recall writing a story on that bill. Shortly after I published, you called Kevin and gave him my cell number. It was a Sunday evening and he yelled at me for publishing it without talking to him, first? But that was In late February. His tax hiking votes didn't come until May?
AG: I looked that up and I'll send you that email referencing the legislation, telling McDugle that I was going to run the story and hoping that he would consider some of the negative aspects and fix them before the bill got too far. It was March 19th 2017. And I was not upset with him over the tax votes, in fact I think you will recall that I was defending McDugle up until way past late fall of 2017. I had yet to talk to the soon to be ex-wife or her friends, I figured we were hearing one side of the story and wanted to be sure how things played out before I came out against McDugle.
SP: So when his abandoned wife filed for divorce in mid June, you still considered McDugle to be one of the 'not so bad' lawmakers, didn't you?
AG: I'll admit that McDugle did have my support past when I ought to have dropped that support. I need to confirm using old emails, newsletters, and messages but I believe I hadn't given up on McDugle till early 2018. I did send you emails in the June/July 2017 time frame showing that we had a friendly and supportive relationship at that time and I don't think that changed till after the first of the year. I will look back in the newsletters and see when the first negative story was written about the guy.
SP: When did you finally decide that his district, and the state; need a better representative?
AG: I believe it was early February or late January 2018 that I had turned my support for McDugle into resignation that he was bad seed. The straw that broke the camel's back was pictures surfacing of McDugle squiring his new girlfriend around legislative events and going on legislative trips. That wasn't appropriate for a man that ran on family values. & not yet divorced.
SP: What's this threat that McDugle claims you've made? Did you have some dirt on him?
AG: Oh, yeah, the AshleyMadision.com dump in 2015 outed McDugle in late summer 2015. I considered warning him that his name and address was in the data dump along with the other info but figured he already knew and should be prepared for it coming out during the campaign. Back in 2011 McDugle mentioned his three marriages, I believe it was three at the time, and blamed the divorces on lonely wife, husband overseas in a combat zone, wifey cheating sort of thing. I assumed that he might have signed up to check on a wife or something. Didn't know the fellow that well I see now. I think it was sometimes in 2017, during the legislative session, that I had mentioned that fact to another legislator after McDugle's name had come up. Well, twenty minutes later McDugle called me, pretty hostile, asked if I had indeed said that and called it libel. I had a simple answer, “But it is true Kevin. Can't be libel.” At that point McDugle agreed it was true, said it was an old account and we left it at that. Didn't hurt our relationship or my support for the guy at that point as you will see in those emails I'll send you.. Again, I was thinking he was checking up on a cheating spouse. Never used that info in a story till after I broke with McDugle and realized he was indeed a cheating husband, setting a bad example to his two little boys.
SP: So was there ever a time that you supported Chris Kannady? I mean, as a lawmaker? He says you've always hated him?
AG: Well, he admits in the story that I supported him in the beginning and like I said earlier, back as far as 2011 before the primary and up into early 2018 before I made a break from the guy. I was having doubt in the late fall of 2017 but I am certain I didn't go after McDugle till he started flaunting his floozy before he was divorced.
SP: So let's get to this investigation. Was there only one actual claim? Tres Savage says that's all there was to it?
AG: Oh, no, Savage knew better. He is a regular reader of our newsletters, he even links to one of them in is hatchet job of a story. In fact, Mayor Brian Hobbs called Savage this afternoon before Savage released the story and told Savage what he had told me on the second victim. For some reason Savage ignored that part and never mentioned the second victim. Hobbs had sent Savage screen shots of a conversation between Hobbs and the victim's husband discussing the allegations and coming forward or not. Savage linked to our last night newsletter on the other two victims that have come forward in the last few days but he declined to mention the one date rape drug/bathroom sexual assault story in any detail. I think if his readers realized that there were multiple victims they might not be happy with Savage's work.
Why do you suppose Tres would withhold that information from his readers?
AG: Liberal bias, I don't doubt that Savage wants to be a professional journalist but he does support the kind of legislation that both Kannady and McDugle have been pushing. I have seen some good work from Savage, this was disappointing to put it mildly. I gotta chuckle when I see his obvious hypocrisy. He says that a victim or witness shouldn't be talking to bloggers, yet the Special Investigator went his blog to release her statements! I guess it's just some bloggers who get to help certain approved agendas?
SP: And This repeated claim by Stephanie Jenks. Is she going to do anything?
AG: Not sure on that one. Jenks did post on Kannaday's political Facebook page, twice, and got her post deleted twice by Kannady it seems. She has not yet replied to my friend request or message. All I can say is what she posted, that she knew about the sexual assault and that she would expose him very soon. That said, she is credible and outed herself. Is she the fourth victim or an advocate for another victim? No one knows at this point.
SP: Let's talk about Kannady's complaint that a victim would go to a blogger with a problem and seek consultation.
Didn't the Monica Lewinsky Case happen that way? I recall that Lucianne went to Matt Drudge about the matter, even before Ken Starr took on the investigation into it?
AG: Well, the first allegation was brought by a legislator while the victim was still in office. They know that I have a voice and that the political elite and political activists read the Sunday night newsletter, around 6000 people on that email list plus the forwards that get done. The second victim was brought to me by Mayor Hobbs. The third victim, or her advocate actually, was sent to me via Facebook and of course #4 was posted on Facebook and brought to my attention by a bondsman.
SP: Don't you get these kind of requests from time to time? Especially when the victim feels that the cards are stacked against them?
AG: All the time and sometimes we can help, a lot of the time we expose the corruption or perversion and nothing gets done. Rep Colby Schwartz was an example, state rep back around 2013 I believe. Bimbo eruption just like on Kannady's Facebook page, I tracked her down, got a hard drive from one of her old computers and downloaded tons of Yahoo Messenger messages between the woman and Schwartz. Lots of naughty pictures, emails, and boy, those Yahoo messages were extremely nasty, nasty, nasty, not normal stuff. Exposed the guy in the newsletter, nothing happened. Had an eight year old kid as a result of a ten year long affair with this woman, starting before he was married and continuing non stop. Had the guy dead cold and the media refused to pick up the story.
SP: Do you believe this investigation was handled properly? or ethically?
AG: No, first, on the first victim three of the four corroborating witness that the victim called that night were never interviewed by Chelsea Smith, the special counsel doing the investigation. The other corroborating witnesses, one was the victim's husband and he wasn't interviewed, one was interviewed briefly, the other two corroborating victims are said to have not been contacted. Second, why would a special counsel release this info to a tabloid blogger, to use Kannaday's words, Trey Savage of Nondoc.com? An investigator is just that, they investigate, it would have been up to a committee of House members, a group that had already been chosen, to review her findings and decide whether to bring in the witnesses, victims, and accused for a hearing. Third, why not interview the second victim, her husband, the Mayor? The Mayor sent his contact info to Chelsea Smith and told the story, he actually sent it to both Smith and I in the same email. Fourth, why not contact the third victim's advocate and interview her or the third victim? Fifth, ditto on the Jenks woman?
SP: So what's next for the women? Do they have any other options?
AG: Yes, a very good lawyer, the same one that forced a settlement on the Rep Dan Kirby case in 2018. One victim is already working with that attorney, and the third victim is contacting him according to her advocate.
SP: Well, thanks for your time, and for stepping up when you believe the citizens aren't getting the full story about their government. I'll look for those emails you said you'll send me.