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Political consultant takes credit for anti-Lawson website



Political consultant Paul Andersen of Petaluma said Monday he is responsible for an anonymous website that posted criticisms of congressional candidate Stacey Lawson.

Stacey Lawson (PD FILE, 2012)

He said there was no connection between his unpaid work on the website and his previous job as campaign manager for Susan Adams, one of Lawson’s rivals for the North Coast congressional seat in Tuesday’s election.

In a posting on the website titled “Who Is Stacey Lawson?” Andersen said he left the Adams campaign “for a variety of personal and political reasons” and did not tell Adams he was behind the website.

Adams said Monday she was “as surprised as anyone” to learn over the weekend that her former campaign manager had launched the anonymous critique of Lawson, a political newcomer with a background in business and education.

She said Andersen left her campaign at the end of March and she had “nothing to do with him or any of his activities since then.”

Adams said she was “very disappointed” by Andersen’s approach.

“This isn’t how we run a campaign,” she said.

In mid-April, Adams, a Marin County supervisor, and Norman Solomon, another candidate, began taking public shots at Lawson, a late entrant in the congressional race who made a splash by raising more than $900,000.

Solomon said last week he considers himself and Lawson as contestants for the second-place finish in Tuesday’s election, behind Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael.

The top two vote-getters Tuesday will advance to a November runoff to select the successor to Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, who is retiring this year after 20 years in office.

As the website began getting noticed, Andersen declined a request by The Press Democrat to identify himself.

In his post Saturday identifying himself as the website’s “mastermind,” Andersen said he “deliberately remained anonymous” because he knew his efforts “would get more publicity that way.”

The website criticized aspects of Lawson’s business career, her deleted Huffington Post blogs and sources of her campaign donations.

In an interview, Andersen said he is “always suspicious” of wealthy people who run for Congress with no background in public service.

“I just don’t think it’s cool if you have a whole lot of money and you become instantly credible,” he said.

In the mid-1990s, Andersen set up a website called RiggsWatch that tracked the actions of former Republican North Coast Rep. Frank Riggs.

Andersen had at the time just finished working as an aide to North Coast Democratic Rep. Dan Hamburg, who beat Riggs in 1992 and lost to him two years later

Andersen also worked on former Cloverdale Mayor Bob Jehn’s unsuccessful bid for Assembly in 2002 and served as a Ukiah city councilman from 2002 to 2004.

He was part of Adams’ campaign for supervisor in 2010.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com.

8 Responses to “Political consultant takes credit for anti-Lawson website”

  1. Caller says:

    I’d rather have a political newcomer than a career politician. With Solomon going negative so quickly and Adams just doing poorly, I think Lawson was one of the better candidates. It sounds like Paul Andersen’s career is full of failure. With his unethical anonymous attacks, I’m thinking he might have written the comments commending himself on this page.

  2. Clay Mitchell says:

    Does saying “I volunteered my time” count as a way to avoid regulatory filings and allow anonymity? I mean, if a hotel donates a ballroom for a candidate to use for a fundraiser, that must be declared as an in-kind contribution. If a printer contributes his services to make fliers, that would be reportable as an in kind contribution.

    So what is so different here? A political consultant and researcher, doing political consulting and research work (which he would charge clients to perform) in relation to a specific candidacy… seems like it would trigger the same cumbersome reporting requirements that the rest of us have to put up with when we are active politically. It’s one thing to volunteer for mundane campaign tasks- it’s another to volunteer professional services that normally one charges for.

    Granted, the value of those services is somewhat arbitrary, but it seems that they should be reported… which would put Mr. Andersen over the $250 limit for FEC filing.

    I’m not really for or against either Lawson or Adams- but I am for everyone having to play by the same rules.

  3. Joe Schmo says:

    Paul and those are chiming in to support his behavior are ignoring the fact that they are claiming to be upholding democracy while in fact they are just mocking it. If Paul was so sure about the accuracy of his information and wasn’t worried about backfire on the Adams campaign, he would have come out with all of this publicly. Word is that Paul didn’t act alone by the way. It was Huffman’s oppo research was used in this pathetic abuse of free speech rights. Between Huffman’s duplicity, Solomon’s righteousness, Adams’ organizational incompetence and everyone else’s non-starter status, I have no choice but to support Lawson in this race. You contributed to that, Paul.

  4. Thank you for Voting! The CA State Assembly should be about vision, goals and putting the people of Sonoma and Marin first above parties, money or groups.

    If anyone has any questions on the CA State Assembly race contact me at drgunderson@hotmail.com or 707 318 8117. Thank you



  5. voter says:

    Well, I guess this is his resume for the general election.

    I view this as a good reason not to hire this guy.

    It must be true small minds talk about people, average minds talk about events and brilliant minds talk about ideas.

  6. @ Jim says:

    It’s a story because someone managed to do better investigative reporting on a previously un-vetted candidate than conventional news outlets. Paul Anderson led the way in exposing the Stacey Lawson myth – he should get a medal for his work and the voting public should be thankful that the truth came out ahead of the election. What Paul did wasn’t corrupt – he simply reported facts that others weren’t exposing. The corruption is the fact that Stacey Lawson is well funded by groups of millionaires and mostly out of the district contributors who hoped the truth about their “stealth candidate” would not be revealed. Thanks to people like Paul and other candidates, the public at least now – hopefully – has a better understanding of who Stacey Lawson actually is, versus what we were being sold. Glad we’re not buying. Thanks again Paul!!!!

  7. Jim says:

    Why is this a story? The political system in the US is the most corrupt in the world. A former campaign manager of an opponent says that had nothing to do with an anti-opponent website…and we’re supposed to believe that? This is politics. Politics is merely lying, denying and once confronted with indisputable facts, apologizing. No harm ever comes to the liar, so they all do it.

    So once again, why is this a story?

  8. Thank You! says:

    Thank you Paul Anderson for doing the work that the PD and other news organizations failed to do. Without your work, most people would never have known the truth about Stacey Lawson. The reality is that the only reason she even rose to the top three was because of her vast wealth. Your statement summarizes this well: “I just don’t think it’s cool if you have a whole lot of money and you become instantly credible,” he said.