Former governor and senator George Allen (R) is amending his campaign disclosure forms filed with the Federal Elections Commission to indicate that Richmond minister Joseph Ellison has been added to the payroll of his U.S. Senate campaign for clergy outreach.
Allen’s campaign originally wrote that it hired Ellison as a “fundraising consultant’’ but spokesman Bill Riggs said that was a “mistake” and as soon as staff learned about it they began working to fix it.
Ellison was paid $22,500 last year, according to the documents. He also received nearly $2,000 for mileage reimbursement, meals and lodging.
The vice president of pastoral relations and church ministries for the Virginia Pastors Coalition has made some controversial statements, including agreeing with televangelist Pat Robertson’s comments in which he attributed the Haitian earthquake to a pact with the devil. “We believe in the bible that those practices of voodoo and sin will cause a nation to suffer. Those who read the bible and study history know that what Dr. Robertson said was a biblical truth,’’ Ellison said in a video introducing Del. Bob Marshall (Prince Williams), who is now running against Allen for the GOP nomination.
“Reverend Joe Ellison is a well-known and well respected pastor in the Richmond community,’’ said Mike Thomas, Allen’s campaign manager. “His inner-city ministries have positively impacted an untold number of disadvantaged children. Like many of us, he became politically active because he was discouraged by the direction of our country. Reverend Ellison has been a valued advisor, volunteer and consultant on many state and local campaigns.’’
Ellison, who was appointed to White House Commission on Faith Based Initiatives by then senator Allen, did not return calls for comment.
The information on Ellison was provided by American Bridge 21st Century, a liberal-leaning group that formed last year to combat conservative outside organizations in elections.
“Twenty five thousand dollars is a huge chunk of campaign cash, and George Allen needs to explain exactly what that money paid for,’’ said Matt Thornton, spokesman for American Bridge 21st Century. “But with his long history of not answering even the most basic questions like who his consulting clients are, Virginians shouldn’t hold their breath waiting.”
Ellison has appeared with other Republicans, including Gov. Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and has been a long time supporter of Allen’s when he ran for governor and senator. He attended Allen’s 2006 victory party and organized a group of local black ministers to meet with Allen.
Allen and Marshall face three others in the June primary: Jamie Radtke, former chairwoman of the Virginia Federation of Tea Party Patriots; Hampton Roads lawyer David McCormick; and Bishop Earl Jackson.