Leaked Nunn campaign document shows concerns about her nonprofit record


U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn hugs friend and supporter Jessica Hunt during a campaign stop at Little Kings Shuffle Club, Wednesday, July 23, 2014, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/Athens Banner-Herald, AJ Reynolds)

Georgia Democrat Michelle Nunn's U.S. Senate campaign team expressed worries last year about potential vulnerabilities in her record at Points of Light, according to a leaked campaign document reported Monday.

National Review reported on the 144-page Nunn campaign document that details campaign strategy and thinking on a variety of fronts including fundraising, messaging, advertising and Republican opposition. The entire document was posted here by National Review.

The section on research into Nunn's background shows some initial concerns that her tenure as head of the Points of Light, a nonprofit that encourages volunteerism, could be used against her. Nunn has touted her background there as a positive attribute in the campaign, as also recommended in the document.

The document identifies several areas of concern related to Points of Light including: "grants to problematic entities," "layoffs," and "service awards to inmates, terrorists."

The National Review story reports that according to an IRS document, Points of Light awarded a more than $33,000 grant to Islamic Relief USA, a charity with ties to Islamic Relief Worldwide, which has ties to Hamas.

The Nunn campaign noted to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Points of Light did not give money but rather validated Islamic Relief USA as a legitimate charity.

The "service awards to inmates, terrorists" reference is apparently, according to National Review, to Nunn and an entity under the Points of Light umbrella praising Shareef Cousin, a former death-row inmate whose murder conviction was overturned but who later pleaded guilty to other crimes.

Nunn's campaign also flagged other more predictable lines of attack, such as that she is "too liberal" and "not a 'real' Georgian."

It is commonplace for campaigns to conduct vets on their own candidates and prepare responses to anticipated lines of attack against weak points.

Nunn's campaign responded to the report by saying the leaked document was a draft that was subject to change. Sources told National Review the campaign plan was briefly posted online in December.

"This was a draft of a document that was written eight months ago. Like all good plans, they change," said Nunn campaign manager Jeff DiSantis, in a statement. "But what hasn’t changed and is all the more clear today is that Michelle’s opponents are going to mischaracterize her work and her positions, and part of what we’ve always done is to prepare for the false things that are going to be said."

Republicans charged the leaked document is very damaging.

"Never before has a Senate campaign openly admitted that its number one objective is to deceive voters and hide a candidate's true beliefs from public view. The hundred plus pages of Michelle Nunn's campaign plan reveals a deliberate effort to manipulate Georgia voters and hide the fact that Nunn's campaign is a proxy for the agenda of Barack Obama and Harry Reid," said National Republican Senatorial Committee political director Ward Baker.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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