Just when you think Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s 2018 campaign blunders were over, she steps on a rake again. And it’s the same error that landed her in hot water in the first place.
During the vicious Supreme Court fight over Brett Kavanaugh, Heitkamp’s Republican opponent, Rep. Kevin Cramer, made some controversial remarks after the judge was besieged with baseless and unsubstantiated sexual misconduct allegations. Heitkamp took out an open letter attack ad in a newspaper aimed at Cramer that named scores of women who were survivors of sexual assault. The problem was that not all of the women listed were sexually assaulted, and a great many of them did not authorize the Heitkamp campaign to release their names. Heitkamp did fire the aide who compiled the information for this ad, and she apologized, though, for some, it was not adequate. These women are rightfully furious, and some are mulling legal action. The apology ad that ran was short and might have run aground of FEC violations since it doesn’t say which political committee paid for it.
Heitkamp is down 16 points. She’s cooked, but now she’s facing some criticism for sharing an image of a World War II veteran without his permission. Rob Port of SayAnything, a North Dakota-based blog, has more:
Last year Minot resident Lynn Aas was presented with the Legion of Honor by France for his service during WWII. In a recent Facebook post, published as Senator Heitkamp tours the state touting her record on veterans issues, the incumbent used an image of Aas and the occasion of his honor to talk about her own work.
Apparently this was done without Aas’ permission, and his family says he isn’t happy about it.
“Lynn is not happy that Heidi did this. We have posted a comment requesting that it be taken down,” David Aas, Lynn’s son, told me in an email this afternoon. “Lynn wants to make it clear that no one from the Heitkamp campaign contacted him to ask for permission for this, and he does not want this to be viewed as an endorsement of her campaign.”
"This story is wrong and is gutter politics at its worst. A link to a local news article was posted on Sen. Heitkamp's Senate Facebook page about a ceremony she participated in last year for a WWII veteran to highlight a recognition he earned. An individual photo was not posted. The way social media works is that if you post a link to an article, the photo in the article also shows up in the post. Let's talk about facts rather than distortions or political games. We took the post of the article down after the veteran's son asked us to via Facebook," said Abbie McDonough, Heitkamp's U.S. Senate communications director.
"In fact, at the event, Mr. Aas joked with Sen. Heitkamp that he liked her, but isn't going to vote for her. They both shared a laugh, and she retold the story at the event. In North Dakota, you can still recognize the service of an honorable man from a different political party without playing politics. Sen. Heitkamp will continue to work to make sure all veterans have the support, resources, and recognition they deserve and earned – despite others playing politics with our nation’s veterans," she added.
Is this as bad as the sexual assault survivor fiasco? No, but it’s just another reminder that Heitkamp’s re-election campaign has devolved into a total dumpster fire. By far, the sexual survivor outing and misidentification blunder were the most damaging—and there isn’t much she can do about it so close to Election Day.