McClintock campaign misrepresents withdrawal from planned CD-4 debate with challenger Jessica Morse

This press release is from the Sierra Business Council:

Sierra Business Council (SBC) is disappointed to announce that the debate scheduled between CA D-4 Rep. Tom McClintock and challenger Jessica Morse has been cancelled due to the McClintock campaign’s decision to “cease all discussions around the event.” We regret that Congressman McClintock’s campaign has misrepresented these events to the public via social media.

The McClintock and Morse campaigns were sent an invitation to a public debate hosted by SBC and the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association (NLTRA) on July 30th, 2018, with the intention of offering the Tahoe-Truckee region a chance to hear from their congressional candidates on issues ranging from wildfire prevention and natural resource conservation to economic revitalization and workforce development. Both parties responded in affirmation and the process set forth in selecting a date and determining the debate format.

Following the initial confirmation of the debate, communication efforts with the McClintock campaign slowed. SBC moved forward with identifying available venues that could hold the hundreds of constituents expected to turn out to hear from their candidates, but failed in garnering a response from the McClintock campaign regarding suggested dates.

As co-hosts, SBC made sure the debate format proposed was completely non-partisan and balanced, was offered to and eventually accepted by both parties, and included an independent third party moderator and independent panel of journalists to ask questions. At the request of Mr. McClintock the format did not include questions from the floor. As recently as Friday September 7th Mr. Jon Huey, Congressman McClintock’s campaign manager, was continuing to approve changes to the format of the debate and confirmed their participation.

On Monday morning, September 10th, immediately following an email to SBC President Steve Frisch, the McClintock campaign announced via Twitter that due to a “lack of candor by the host,” Congressman McClintock would be withdrawing from the debate.

The explanation offered states that Mr. Frisch withheld information regarding his individual endorsement of Morse. In fact Mr. Frisch clearly informed Mr. McClintock’s campaign manager of his personal endorsement of and support for Ms. Morse in his initial phone call with Mr. Huey to discuss the details of the event on July 31th, 2018.

In short, the McClintock campaign characterization of the candor of Mr. Frisch and their characterization of the events leading up to their cancellation of the event are patently false. It is disappointing that the McClintock campaign would misrepresent what happened.

SBC is disappointed that the McClintock campaign was not more forthcoming regarding any concerns about individual political leanings within the organization and disheartened that the campaign would falsely accuse Frisch and the organization of maltreatment and use it as a reason to back out of a debate.

We are also saddened that the constituents of the Tahoe-Truckee area and all of CA D-4 will be denied the opportunity to hear from their opposing congressional candidates on the issues that matter most to them. We would have assumed that any candidate would welcome the opportunity for a fair and open debate; unfortunately this candidate appears simply not interested.

This release was written in response to publicly made claims and is not an endorsement of any political candidate.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

11 thoughts on “McClintock campaign misrepresents withdrawal from planned CD-4 debate with challenger Jessica Morse”

  1. Disappointing but not too surprising, given what we’ve learned about McClintock ever since he first started shopping for an available conservative-leaning congressional district in 2008 and ultimately parachuted into CD4.

    BTW, Jane just suggested that SBC should go ahead with the “debate,” replacing the real McClintock with a cardboard cutout. Many of us might not even notice the substitution.

  2. To add a little more meat to the bone here, I had been negotiating the room set up and questioning format with both campaigns up until late Friday afternoon, and changes were made to the format to accommodate Mr. McClintock’s desire not to have any questions from the floor.

    The questioning format would have included three local journalists and an independent moderator.

    We gave Mr. McClintock every opportunity to adjust the format to meet their needs.

    I informed Mr. Huey of my personal support of Ms. Morse in our initial conversation and they never mentioned that that was an issue in the design of the format.

    On Monday morning they sent me an e-mail pulling out, then immediately went to social media to frame their message.

    The professional way to have done this would have been to simply call me and let me know they wished to decline the invitation.

    In short the McClintock campaign attempted to use their withdrawal from the debate for political gain and it is kind of backfiring on them.

    There was an article in the Sac Bee today about the demand for tickets for a debate scheduled in Mariposa on September 23rd where demand for tickets tops 1000 in a town of 2300 people. The article can be found here:

    The truly sad thing is that the constituents in Tahoe-Truckee now appear to be denied the ability to see their candidates in a direct format debating the serious issues of public policy that affect them. I have no doubt we would have packed the house and I hope someone else steps in to host the debate.

    1. Thanks Steve and others. The same goes for the 1st Congressional district — there are simply not enough debates. Avoiding them seems to be the MO for the incumbents. Our Congressmen are one-dimensional, like a throwback to the “Leave it to Beaver” or “Father Knows Best” era. Ironic, too, in a dynamic state like California. It’s more like Nevada County, Arkansas, than Nevada County, CA. Things are slowly changing, however. Check back in the next generation (or two).

  3. What a hoot! Barry crawled out of the woodwork to give Tom an “atta boy” on Todd’s blog, even though Tom’s endorsement was useless in his pitiful campaign for clerk-recorder. Barry still lost in every precinct. Maybe he should have touted his Valapariso Law “credentials.” ROFLOL.

      1. Wait, there’s more! Barry says he is in Wisconsin. So does this timestamp from the night before on Todd’s blog (“Barry Pruett, September 12, 2018 at 11:36 PM”) mean he was posting at 1:36 a.m. Central Daylight Time. Yikes! Barry adds: “It is pleasant being around some sane folks outside of the PRC – people’s republic of California.” Enjoy the fish boil in Door County, Wis., Barry! LOL. Details here: For the record, I prefer grilled Mackinaw trout at Lake Tahoe. Long live California!

      2. Hey, I am up every day by about 4 am 🙂 I just refrain from posting that early because I’m vain and don’t want to look like a tool.

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