Congressional candidates who are down in the polls often pull unexpected stunts to try to shake up the race — but even the most cunning strategist would have to question the wisdom of publicizing an unredacted list of phone numbers from people who have called the campaign.
This past weekend, former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R), best known for lying about an affair with an Argentinian woman, ran a full-page ad in the Charleston Post & Courier to support his congressional campaign after it was revealed that he had been charged with trespassing at his ex-wife’s house. In the ad, Sanford included his personal cell phone number and told readers to call him “if you have further questions.”
After Sanford published his own cell phone number, House Majority PAC, a Democratic-aligned super PAC, included his number in a fundraising email sent Wednesday.
Sanford responded Thursday by publishing a list of unredacted phone numbers from anybody who had called his cell phone in an attempt to publicly shame them. See a redacted version of the list below:
ThinkProgress spoke with three of the people whose numbers appeared on the list – all were surprised and upset to learn their private phone numbers had been published. Darla, who shares a home phone with her 80-year-old mother and 91-year-old father expressed concern that they might receive harassing phone calls. “It opens us up for all kinds of issues,” she noted, adding that Sanford “didn’t even have the courtesy of calling me back to answer my questions.” That Sanford instead decided to make their home phone number public “speaks to the kind of person he is,” she said.
Thomas, who noted that Sanford did not tell callers that he was going to publish their numbers in this fashion, called the move consistent with his record of dishonesty. “I called his office to find out the best spot to get on the Appalachian Trial,” he quipped.
Tina, who told ThinkProgress she had called Sanford with a question about his use of taxpayer dollars on his personal travel, said this move seemed “vindictive and petty.” “He gave his permission” for his own number to be published and she did not, she observed, adding, “I’m not too happy about it and I’m not sure what the point was. He’s a representative, he’s supposed to respond to us, not to try to get back at us.”
Sanford’s campaign has grown increasingly erratic as polls show him trailing Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, even in the strongly-Republican district. On Wednesday, in an homage to Clint Eastwood’s infamous RNC chair speech, Sanford used a campaign stop in Charleston to debate a cardboard cutout of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
Adam Peck contributed to this post.