By GUY KOVNER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Political consultant Paul Andersen of Petaluma said Monday he is responsible for an anonymous website that posted criticisms of congressional candidate Stacey Lawson.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.