Virginia: Donors Revolt Over Lind Joining Congressional Race


Update: I received a call from Lind this morning and I should make it clear that he ended up returning several donations when requested. In the comments, you will see further e-mails from that chain that my source did not make available to me.

That being said, Lind also implied that I must be on the payroll of the Comstock campaign, and implied that some others were receiving kickbacks from the Comstock campaign in much the manner of Greg Letiecq’s post, which I thoroughly shredded for the same reasons.

I am not receiving nor have I ever received money from Barbara Comstock. I think I drank a couple beverages from her suite at The Advance, but then again, I also ate Howie’s food. I would have written the same story had I seen the follow-up e-mails or not. It’s incredibly telling to me that donors are requesting refunds now that Lind has jumped races.

Lind220A high-profile Virginia Republican donor and activist penned an e-mail to 10th District Congressional candidate Howie Lind questioning his ethics and decision to join the race. Lind, who began this year running for United States Senate, intends to spend his war chest in the 10th. That has donors like Jo crying foul. A source (not Thoburn) sent me this e-mail:

From: Jo Thoburn
Date: February 8, 2014, 8:43:22 PM EST
To: Howie Lind <>
Cc: John Whitbeck, Julie Secord Williams, Morton & Helen Blackwell, Kathy Terry, Pat Mullins, EveMarie Barner Gleason, Kay Gunter, Heidi Stirrup, Mark Berg, Matt Ames, Mark Sell, Beau Correll, ‘Gerry R. Gunn’
Subject: So Disappointed


You have been a hero to many in the conservative movement.  I have been a fan and even hosted a fundraiser at my house last November for your US Senate bid.

However, the word on the street in that you have decided to run for Congress in the 10th district.  If this is the case, I insist you return my  $2,600 contribution to your US Senate race and contributions to others who gave you money.

When you called me to tell me that you were pulling out of the US Senate race, your excuse was that you did not think you could raise enough money to beat Ed Gillespie.  You inferred you were broke.

Then two weeks later, when we talked regarding your possible Congressional bid, you bragged to me on the phone that you had “saved” $180,000 from your US Senate race you could use to run for Congress.

Even if it’s legal, using this money for a Congressional bid in the 10th district is unethical and immoral.  I am so disappointed in your character.

We were all shocked and angry in December when Ron Meyer pulled this bait-and-switch on his donors to the 11th district Congressional race and choose to run against John Whitbeck for the nomination.  I was one of those donors and I’m still angry.

I hope you will reconsider using money to run instead in the 10th district.  If you insist on running, you should return the money you raised under what can be looked at as now false pretenses.  If you don’t want to return it, then you must put the money in an escrow account to be donated to the Republican nominee of either the US Senate race or maybe the 10th Congressional. Anything less than this seriously calls into question you ethics and your character.

Using a dime of your US Senate money for a race you did raise it for is just wrong.

Just do the right thing.

Thank you.
Jo Thoburn

While it is perfectly legal for Lind to transfer the dollars raised from his U.S. Senate account to his U.S. Congress account (they’re both federal races), that doesn’t mean voters are happy about it. Lind raised a substantial chunk of change while he was the most viable candidate in the Senate race. Now he’s not even the most viable candidate in the House race.

I have my issues with Lind and his baggage already, but this just adds to it. When donors request refunds (and a number of them have), that should happen. Lind joined a race that those dollars were never intended to be involved in. Legal doesn’t equal ethical, and Howie Lind is certainly learning that.

  • David Skiles

    I certainly agree with Jo Thoburn on this point.

  • Julie Williams

    Why weren’t the 2 follow-up emails from Howie and Jo included in the post above?

    Dear Jo,

    Thank you for your heartfelt concerns below. Since you copied these people in your
    email, I will copy them too so they can read my response to you.

    I too have valued our long-standing friendship and conservative battles that we have
    fought, and continue to fight, together. And I pray that we will continue
    in that regard.

    Let me assure that I have done nothing under false pretenses. I would like to
    step through the past two months to explain my thought processes. First
    off, who knew that Frank Wolf would announce his retirement in
    December? I sure didn’t. If we knew that last year, I would most
    likely have run for his seat vs. running for the Senate.
    Nonetheless, after hearing of his announcement, I received
    multiple calls asking if I would run for his seat. My response was
    “no, I’m running for the US Senate.”

    My explanation for withdrawing from the Senate race in January was as true then as
    it is now. I assessed that building out a state-wide organization and infrastructure was not possible now that Ed Gillespie had entered the race. The necessary funding was not available from large donors who were now committed to supporting Ed. I meant
    it when I said in my email letter, “our hats are off to Ed.”

    With regards to our phone conversation with you, I said I was withdrawing from the
    Senate race and was considering running for Congress, at that time in the 11th
    District against Gerry Connelly. I did consider that, but not for very long since I have always been associated with the 10th District. I didn’t mean to convey to you that I was
    “broke”. I said that raising the several millions would not possible since Ed was in the race.

    For the $180,000 that you referred to, that is actually the amount of a personal
    loan from me to my campaign that I made in December. I made that
    loan to keep the campaign going, but I didn’t want to have to keep making
    personal loans to my campaign. That was the amount in the campaign
    account when I withdrew, but it is less now that the final bills have been

    I will return your $2,600 as you requested. And I am returning funds
    to others who want it back. Note that almost all of my donors so far
    have said to keep it.

    Regarding the 10th District race, this is nothing against Barbara. I have known
    Barbara for many years and have the utmost respect for her. Throughout
    2008, Frank Wolf was pinging me to run for the 34th District seat in Virginia House of Delegates against the incumbent Democrat Margi Vanderhye. I thought about it long and hard. But late that year, I declined because of my career in the Navy and then working in the national defense community, my focus had been and still is on federal issues; and as such, my desire has been to serve in Congress. I asked Barbara on election day in 2008, while we stood at the polls at Langley High School, if she would be interested in running for that seat for the House of Delegates. It took her by surprise. She of course ran for it, and the rest is history.

    Jo, Ethical behavior and character matter greatly to me, and I take your assertions very seriously. I would be happy to answer anymore questions from you, or
    anyone on this email.
    Thank you.


    You are still a class act. You won’t have my support in this race. But I do hope we remain friends and allies on future endeavors.

    We need to field the most conservative candidates who can win the general elections. It’s why I supported Dave LaRock and Mark Berg last year. Those districts deserved a more conservative delegate. Unfortunately, the 10th congressional district is not that conservative. Romney won by about 600 votes and Cuccinelli lost it. In fact, Cuccinelli lost every precinct in Barbara Comstock’s district.

    Quite frankly, Barbara Comstock is an anomaly. She has a solid conservative voting record, yet her delegate district is not very conservative. However, her district strongly reflects the demographics of the 10th congressional district. It’s because of Barbara’s hard work, determination and tenacity, she is able to get elected and re-elected in
    an area other conservatives have failed.

    I’m sorry you feel called to run against her. As Morton Blackwell has said, “No two people agree on everything, not even husband and wife.”
    All the best,

  • old_redneck

    Nothing to see here. Just another Republican crook trying to come up with a way to slide campaign donations into his pocket.

  • Jax

    This post begs the question of why anyone be foolish enough to donate money to either (or both) Howie Lind and Ron Meyer? If someone is going to throw away money like that to a pair of clueless politicians, then donate it to the Wounded Warrior Project instead.