Des Moines Register Withholds Arrestee's Connection to Democrat Consulting Firm Until 'Safe'

January 22nd, 2012 12:58 PM

Is it safe?

Is it safe?

No, that wasn't Laurence Olivier as a Nazi dentist drilling holes into Dustin Hoffman's teeth in Marathon Man as he kept repeating that question. In this case it was the Des Moines Register wondering if it was "safe" to mention that a former Obama campaign staffer, Zachary Edwards (see mug shot), who was arrested on Friday for attempted identity theft of the Iowa Republican Secretary of State, Matt Schultz, was a prominent member of a well known Democrat campaign consulting firm, LINK Strategies. On Friday, the day the Des Moines Register first briefly reported the arrest, it wasn't "safe" to mention Link Strategies:

A Des Moines man has been arrested after police say he used, or tried to use, the identity of Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz in a scheme to falsely implicate Schultz in perceived unethical behavior in office.

Zachary Edwards was arrested Friday and charged with identity theft.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety issued a news release saying Schultz's office discovered the scheme on June 24, 2011 and notified authorities.

The criminal complaint says Edwards fraudulently used or attempted to use the identity of Schultz or Schultz's brother with the intent to obtain a benefit. No other details were given.

Gee! What possible reason would Edwards want to falsely implicate Schultz in perceived unethical behavior in office? Come to think of it, what is the political affiliation of Edwards? Reading the Register story, one could not guess if not already familiar with Iowa politics or if you are still one of those permanently offline folks. Of course, as is often the case, the detailed background to this story was found that same day on the Web at the Iowa Grounds blog by editor Shane Vander Hart which actually contains more pertinent information in just the headline than the entire Register article...Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz Targeted for Identity Theft by Former Obama Staffer:

Just some background information on Edwards. He works for LINK Strategies, his bio:

Zach Edwards got started in web-based research while based in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2006 . After a stint as a part-time political blogger and local democratic volunteer, he joined the Obama campaign in early 2007 as an intern organizing North-West Las Vegas. In September 2007, Zach joined the Obama New Media department as co-director of the Nevada New Media team and then moved on to direct New Media operations in five other primary states (New Mexico, Texas, North Carolina, and South Dakota).

During the 2008 General Election, Zach was the Iowa Director of New Media. In this capacity, he worked closely with communications, research and field operations to provide cutting-edge organizing tools and new media-based opposition research; which was emulated in battleground states across the country. After the election, Zach began working at Link Strategies as the Director of New Media, where he provides innovative web-based research tools, video analysis and production, and web-based communication tools to assist our clients.

Oh, that explains it…. he worked for Obama. He can also add identity theft to his portfolio, ok maybe not since he doesn’t appear to be very good at it. LINK Strategies is a Democratic lobbying , campaign consulting, opposition research and press shop. It was founded by Jeff Link who has been around the block as a Democratic operative who was formerly U.S. Senator Tom Harkin‘s (D-IA/Bahamas) chief of staff. Harkin is also a client of his. Former U.S. Senator and Presidential Candidate John Edwards (D-Soon to Be In Prison) worked with him on his 2004 campaign. They also ran a press shop for former Democratic Iowa Governors Tom Vilsack and Chet Culver.

So it wasn't like  Zach Edwards link to LINK Strategies was some big dark secret on the day the Register article appeared. Happily for the Register, LINK Strategies subsequently fired Edwards (a Captain Louis Renault moment?) making if finally safe for them to report on the Edwards LINK link with this laughable positive spin headline...Political consultants quickly fire arrested man:

Edwards had been employed since late 2008 as director of new media for Link Strategies, a Des Moines political consulting firm, with ties to Iowa Democrats, including U.S. Senator Tom Harkin.

Biographical information on Edwards found on the Link Strategies website says that Edwards worked in new media for the Obama campaign beginning in September 2007 after joining the campaign as an intern organizing in the Las Vegas area.

Jeff Link, president of Link Strategies, confirmed Saturday that Edwards no longer works for the company.

“I am greatly disturbed by the charge brought against Zach, and understand the pending legal action will run its course,” Link said.

He added that within hours “of learning of this situation, I met with Zach and notified him he was no longer employed with Link Strategies effective immediately. After gathering further information it is clear the incident involved in the allegation was related to a personal action taken by Zach and unrelated to his work with Link Strategies. “

Link also said his firm “holds itself to a high bar of ethics and professionalism, and this type of activity is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.”

I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling, uh, I mean identity theft, is going on in here!

Meanwhile Shane Vander Hart of Iowa Grounds had a good laugh on his Facebook page over the Des Moines Register waiting until it was "safe" to report on Zach Edwards' connection to LINK Strategies:

I find it interesting that I knew on Friday night he worked for Link Strategies, but the Register couldn't report on this until Sunday AM. .....Yeah, I guess they had to wait until after he was fired so they could put some positive spin on this story.

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