October 30, 2009 Leave a comment
As I noted in an earlier post, the race for Ted Kennedy’s open Senate seat is the most compelling political drama in Massachusetts for many years.
For political junkies intent on following the campaign, there’s no better source for info than the exceptional Kennedyseat.com, where “The Senator” keeps his readers abreast of all the developments, and has even snagged hard-hitting interviews with the candidates.
Today, the site has a great post about an oft-overlooked Republican contender for the seat, who barely got his signatures in before the deadline. He only had to spend $100,000 to pull it off, but this guy has proven indefatigable in the past, hanging in there in even the most quixotic of political campaigns.
In the early months of 2000, with Senator Ted Kennedy looking forward to his first unopposed campaign for re-election in his nearly forty years in the Senate, a new Republican face emerged that, on paper, looked as if it could present a real threat.
The candidate was 38-year-old Jamaica Plain native, and Connecticut resident, Jack Errol Robinson, a wealthy business executive with degrees from Brown, Harvard Law, and the Harvard Business School who pledged to raise $5-$8 million in his quest to unseat the legendary Liberal Lion.
The Republican Party was excited, the Kennedy campaign was irritated, and the public was intrigued.
That was the high point of the campaign – and it was only the beginning of March.
Despite this auspicious beginning, Robinson’s 2000 campaign soon collapsed as myriad charges of legal and ethical wrongdoing in his past quickly surfaced.
Robinson attempted to rebut the charges against him…by releasing an all-encompassing document of every bit of wrongdoing he’d committed throughout his life.
It was called the Robinson Report, and the New York Times described it as an attempt to squelch a tidal wave of criticism that was overwhelming Robinson’s fledgling campaign:
PUT yourself in the shoes of Jack E. Robinson III.
Faster than you can say your own name, your fledgling campaign for Edward M. Kennedy’s United States Senate seat has been clobbered by embarrassing accusations that you are sure came from the senator’s camp: a rush of stories about your driving record, your legal history and, most mortifying of all, your love life.
At the news conference to announce your candidacy, you find yourself forced to declare: ”I am not a womanizer. I am not a groper.”
Mr. Robinson, a 39-year-old businessman, sixth-generation Republican and first-time candidate, has already posted ”The Robinson Report” on his campaign Web site. Perhaps the most notable effort at a pre-emptive political strike of the Internet era, it lists and explains every incident in his life that he thought might be fodder for attacks.
But the reasons for Mr. Robinson’s frustration and anger just keep growing. Amid the rush of accusations, he was unceremoniously disowned this week by the Republican governor of Massachusetts, Paul Cellucci, and the State Republican Party, a rejection that Mr. Robinson called ”unheralded in American history” and a ”typical Beacon Hill back room double-cross.”
And almost every day, local papers have carried a new source of embarrassment, leading some to comment that Senator Kennedy may finally have a rival with a past as problematic as his own.
On Tuesday, it was an unidentified woman’s account in The Boston Globe that Mr. Robinson had subjected her to unwanted advances after a heavy-drinking dinner date, including French kisses that led her and her friends to refer to him as ”Jack the Tongue.” Mr. Robinson denies the accusation.
Now, while there are many web pages making reference to the Robinson Report, the site that originally hosted it has long since gone defunct.
The esteemed author of The Kennedy Seat lamented that it wasn’t available and said he would love to get his hands on it.
Well, political junkies and schadenfreude aficionados, ROTI has good news for you:
Behold, The Robinson Report!
Nothing is ever truly deleted from the Internet; with some devoted searching and the help of the Wayback Machine at archive.org, I tracked this sucker down.
It’s a truly amazing document that purports to explain how Robinson (among other things):
- got popped for drunk driving near Fenway Park;
- was found guilty in federal court for plagiarizing a book about Pan-Am Airlines;
- had a restraining order taken out against him by an ex jump off;
- got arrested for failing to pay a speeding ticket;
- bombed out of THREE attempts at the bar exam;
- and, best of all, got busted with a deadly weapon in his pocket…
A ninja’s throwing star!
I was taken to the Boston Police station. I remember telling the officer in charge that I didn’t believe I was under the influence. He asked me to take a Breathalyzer test and I consented.
However, as the officer was checking my clothing, he found in my coat pocket what turned out to be some kind of martial arts implement. Neither he nor I knew what it was and hadn’t seen it before. We actually got a slight chuckle out of it, at least until he checked around and found out that it is against the law to have such a thing. He was then required to charge me with possession of a dangerous weapon, even though it was clear that I had no idea what it was. [I can only surmise that it must have been placed in my jacket pocket, perhaps not even on purpose, while it was hanging in the restaurant where I was having dinner – probably by its original owner].
Yeah, right Robinson. That’s exactly what a ninja would expect us to believe!
Back in 2000, the website Online Opinion deftly summed up the impact of this one-of-a-kind confession:
What has made Robinson put forward such unusual document? According to his own publicity machine this openness is part of “a John McCain-style campaign”.
Unfortunately for Robinson the similarity to McCain will likely be that he will attract a great deal of attention but ultimately be unsuccessful. It is true that in the presidential primaries a greater degree of openness was seen with the candidates by talking about personal experiences or disclosing health records. But the Robinson Report is in a league of its own. In most of the examples he claims he did no wrong, so is it supposed to be an exhaustive list of every potential scandal that he could face?
Furthermore as the above examples show, his accounts do not give him an air of integrity, but rather make him look foolish. Now that he has opened up his personal life as an issue, how far should this line of inquiry go? To put it bluntly Robinson’s move has merely led to his portrayal as someone who seriously lacks judgment.
The 2000 campaign against Kennedy went so dreadfully, it became a total farce.
The Senator from Kennedyseat.com put together this riotous recap:
Over the next two months, Robinson hired one campaign staffer, who later quit, failed to substantiate claims that he was related to baseball icon Jackie Robinson, and travelled alone to all 351 towns in his “burgundy Cadillac Deville” often stopping for less than five minutes and wandering towns looking for someone to talk to.
From the time he began is campaign in March through the end of August, Robinson had raised just $154K, far short of his $5-8 million goal. He moved his campaign headquarters to “cyberspace,” in an effort to “rewrite the rules for campaigning in a new-age economy.” Said Robinson, “we are running a guerilla campaign, kind of like the colonial militia against the Redcoats.” Yes, kind of like that.
In the end, Robinson turned in an election day performance so dismal, Frank Phillips dubbed it “the lowest ebb of US Senate races in Massachusetts since voters began directly electing lawmakers in 1918.”
Robinson polled just 13% of the vote, getting fewer votes than there were registered Republicans in Massachusetts.
You’d think a defeat like that would crush a person’s political dreams, but you would be underestimating the legendary Jack E. Robinson!
He mounted another campaign in 2006, this time trying to take down 6th District incumbent Stephen Lynch.
His political attacks on Lynch included the pressing campaign issue of the incumbent’s use of naughty swear words!
“Stephen Lynch – The R-Rated Candidate?” cried Robinson’s now-defunct (but archived) website.
These stirring calls to the ballot box resulted in another thorough butt-whooping, as Lynch defeated Robinson by 78% to 22%.
Now, the unstoppable Jack E. Robinson is back for more.
The Boston Herald reported on his progress towards the GOP nomination:
Scandal-magnet Republican Jack E. Robinson is making a last-minute bid for the U.S. Senate, filing 10,900 signatures with the Duxbury town clerk just before the Tuesday deadline, according to a source close to the campaign.
Robinson, who coughed up $100,000 to collect the signatures, will challenge Wrentham state Sen. Scott Brown in the Dec. 8 GOP primary.
The winner will move on to the special election in January.
“He’s been trying to stay under the radar,” said the campaign source who asked to remain anonymous because Robinson hasn’t officially announced he is running.
The state’s Republican party shunned Robinson after a series of controversies, including failure to pay $70,000 taxes and penalties on his 49-foot yacht, Excalibur.
To win the GOP nomination, Robinson will have to beat this guy:
No easy task, to be sure. If there’s one thing the Massachusetts GOP loves, it’s a fit specimen with a good head of hair…
Well, at least Robinson’s website is a cutting-edge, politically savvy masterpiece.
Check out a screenshot:
Good luck, Jack E. Robinson.
You’re gonna need it.