Down East 2013 ©
Now that political operative Dennis Bailey has admitted his role in authoring the Cutler Files, an attack site launched during the campaign against independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler, and the Lewiston Sun Journal reports that they have confirmed the identity of the second author as Thom Rhoads, husband to former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rosa Scarcelli, now may be a good time to look back and see what these two and others said about the site over the past few months.
While Bailey claims that he “tried very hard not to lie” to the press , he skirted and hid the truth well enough to give reporters the impression that he wasn't responsible for the site.
An October 28th Press Herald article reported  that “[Bailey] said he called the commission because a member of Cutler’s campaign staff had accused him of being the author of The Cutler Files and he wanted to make it clear that he is not.”
An October 14th Associated Press piece noted  that Bailey “denies having any knowledge about the site’s creator.”
Bailey's prevaricating and the fine leveled against him by the Ethics Commission for failing to disclose his authorship of the site may harm his credibility with the media and the public, but the incident is unlikely to have as large an impact on his career as it will on that of Rhoads and his wife, if it's true that he's the second author.
For Rhoads, this may be a case of the old adage that the coverup is worse than the crime. Unlike Bailey, he repeatedly and vehemently denied his involvement in the site.
“I can unequivocally state that I am not the author, owner or creator of The Cutler Files, nor did I post any information on it or any other website. ... I don't know why my name is being brought into this. It's pure rumor,” Rhoads wrote in an email to the Press Herald.
Rhoads' wife Scarcelli has taken steps to remain in the political spotlight since her loss in the Democratic primary. She has relaunched and maintained her campaign website, spoken out in favor of the national No Labels political group, and writes a weekly column for the Bangor Daily News, all signs that she may still have designs on high office.
If she does run again, she will now almost certainly face accusations of engaging in dirty politics. Even if she denies involvement in the site, it will be hard for her to distance herself from the actions of her husband and top campaign strategist.
It's also interesting to note that the Press Herald apparently had the story right back in October, when the paper published its front-page, uncredited article citing anonymous sources naming Bailey and Rhoads.
As late as earlier this week, some were still faulting the Press Herald for this reporting.
“Everyone with any connection inside politics except for Rich Connor and the dolts at PPH knows who they are!” wrote WGAN radio talk show host Mike Violette in a blog post on Tuesday . “Knowing who they are makes me truly believe in the old saying that 'politics makes strange bedfellows' because these people get along like cats and dogs, believe me!”
A more complete story of the creation of the site will likely come out over the next few days and weeks, as the Ethics Commission releases more information about their investigation, including responses to freedom of information requests filed by several Maine journalists.