National tea party organizer and profiteer Eric Odom recently launched Liberty.com, a conservative website meant to “eclipse the influence of MoveOn.org in campaigns across the country.” Partnering with an umbrella group, the site launched with a formidable $700,000 budget and 70,000 members, and has the “intention of becoming an all-encompassing conservative grass-roots organization that weighs in on federal and state political races and issue-oriented movements.” The site features multi-media news and opinion content, along with fundraising and action components, supporting its mission “to keep the right honest, the press nervous, and the left unpopular and out of power.”
“We’re looking to compete directly with MoveOn.org. We’re looking to be a player for a long time. No one else on the right is doing what we’re doing,” said Liberty.com spokesman Yates Walker, who served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne, and until recently was a consultant for the campaign of Christine O’Donnell, a tea party-backed U.S. Senate candidate from Delaware. Yates also worked for the special election campaign of Doug Hoffman, who ran for a House seat from New York’s 23rd district last year.
In a video posted on Liberty.com yesterday, the site baselessly accuses O’Donnell’s moderate Republican primary challenger, Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE), of having an extramarital affair with a man. During a video podcast about the race, a voice off screen can be heard asking, “Isn’t Mike Castle cheating on his wife with a man?” “That’s the rumor,” the woman on camera responds with a sly smile. Watch the exchange:
When asked for comment about the unsubstantiated charge, Walker — who is listed as the media contact for Liberty.com and is described in numerous articles as its spokesperson — told Politico’s Ben Smith, “We asked the question, we didn’t specifically say it,” adding that the supposed gay affair is “common knowledge” in Delaware. “We thought we’d throw it out there,” Walker said, explaining that he has no qualms about propagating the empty rumor because Castle is a “a threat to American sovereignty.” Walker “didn’t offer any evidence for the claim,” Smith notes.
It’s ironic that Walker would so casually throw groundless rumors about people’s purported sexual impropriety “out there,” considering that he himself has been accused — and acquitted — of serious sexual misconduct. ThinkProgress has learned that, as a student at Cincinnati’s Xavier University in 2006, Michael “Yates” Walker was indicted on rape charges and held on a $250,000 bond, quietly leaving the school shortly thereafter. The Xavier Newswire reported on November 13, 2006:
Xavier University senior Michael “Yates” Walker was released on $250,000 bond Tuesday evening after being indicted on three counts of sexual misconduct and two charges of rape. Walker could face up to 35 years in jail if convicted.
Walker, a 27-year-old resident of Norwood, is formally accused of the Oct. 12 rape of two Xavier University freshmen girls. According to the Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor Seth Tieger, Walker invited the two women to his off-campus apartment where he proceeded to serve alcohol to the minors until they lost consciousness. One of the women reported waking up naked the next morning, unable to recall the previous night. The second woman suspected nothing, and accompanied Walker on a date the following evening where Walker attacked her again.
When contacted by ThinkProgress, Walker told us, “I was falsely accused. Most of the charges were thrown out of court and I was found not guilty on the rest.” He also defended Liberty’s campaign against Castle by referring us to other right-wing blogs who have pushed the rumor.
Walker was never convicted. For this reason, Walker should know better than to toss sensational accusations about someone else’s sexual history in light of his own experience.