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Government, Politics & Issues

Democratic researcher offers more details on creation of anti-Martin website

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 28, 2010 - Democratic researcher and investigator Michael Corwin is providing more details about the production and launch of his website attacking 3rd District Republican congressional nominee Ed Martin -- in part to refute GOP assertions that Democratic incumbent Russ Carnahan was involved.

As reported by the Beacon last week, the website in question -- therealedmartin.com -- alleges that Martin failed to take appropriate action regarding pedophile priests during his tenure working for the St. Louis Archdiocese. As head of the archdiocese's Office of Human Rights, Martin sat on its governing board, called the Curia. He says he had no involvement in the handling of priests.

On Wednesday, Corwin said that some subsequent press accounts are inaccurately characterizing the timeline of when he and collaborator Jeannine Dillon assembled the site and put it online.

Records show the duo purchased the domain name on Sept. 29 from GoDaddy for $12.17, including tax. That was two days after the Carnahan campaign paid just under $2,000 to Dillon's company, Veritas Research, according to the campaign's revised financial report filed earlier this week with the Federal Election Commission.

The money, said Corwin, had been owed to Dillon for months for expenses related to earlier research she had done for the Carnahan campaign. (Corwin earlier said the duo parted ways with the campaign in May or June over a dispute involving what to do with the information the researchers had collected about Martin's time with the archdiocese. The Carnahan campaign didn't want to do anything because the congressman did not want to offend the district's Catholics, Corwin and the campaign have said.)

Corwin said that he and Dillon delayed purchasing the website name until she got paid because they knew the Carnahan campaign would be upset if it learned about the site before it went online. Dillon feared she might then lose the money she was owed, he said. (Dillon could not be reached Wednesday for comment.)

On Oct. 3, Corwin and Dillon signed a web-hosting contract with the online firm Fat Cow for $44 for a year. Dillon's husband, Victor Arango, did the technical work on the site. It went online on Oct. 19 and quickly caught the attention of activists on both sides of the 3rd District contest.

Corwin emphasized that he regularly does opposition research for Democratic candidates around the country and therefore is mindful of the FEC restrictions on candidates. Independent activities -- such as Corwin's website -- cannot be coordinated with a campaign. Otherwise, a campaign needs to report its expenses for such activities and needs to put a statement known as a "paid for by" on all literature, ads or websites.

The Corwin/Dillon site says that it has no ties to any political party or candidate. Corwin acknowledges that Republicans don't believe him.

The Carnahan campaign has said since the controversy broke that it knew nothing about Corwin's plan for the website until it went up. Martin calls the site "anti-Catholic" and asserts that the Carnahan campaign is involved.

In a statement Wednesday, Carnahan spokeswoman Angela Guyadeen said:

"Our campaign had nothing to do with posting this website. As we have previously stated, the campaign engaged a firm for research on Martin's record. After our relationship with that firm ended, the researchers went ahead and created this website on their own. They did so without our authorization, encouragement or knowledge. We have been absolutely transparent about all of this. Ed Martin, on the other hand, has refused to answer questions about what he knew and when."

Corwin adds that the site is worth the controversy -- for him, if not the 3rd District candidates -- if the matter brings more attention to the problem of pedophile priests. Corwin added that the project was a financial sacrifice. "I have 26 open cases with clients screaming at me," he said, because he delayed his paid work to get therealedmartin.com online.

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