Fake candidate enters Ky. US Senate race


by Joe Arnold


Posted on July 16, 2014 at 5:34 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 16 at 11:34 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Hoping to share in some of the national spotlight cast on Kentucky's 2014 U.S. Senate race, a national advocacy group is launching a satirical senatorial campaign with a fake candidate who is brutally honest about the influence of money in politics.

"People of Kentucky, you deserve complete honesty," an actor playing the role of candidate Gil Fulbright says in a Represent US video.  "So here it is.  I don't care about you.  Unless you are a donor or a lobbyist who can write a big fat check, the results you get from voting for me, is negligible."

"At least he's telling the people of Kentucky that, yes, he's going to sell you out to his biggest donors in exchange for campaign cash," said Represent US Director Josh Silver.

On the heels of the real candidates, Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes, announcing record fundraising totals, the Fulbright campaign officially launches August 2, when the fake candidate joins them at the traditional start of fall campaigns in Kentucky, the Fancy Farm Picnic in Graves County.

In less than one week, the group has raised more than $25,000 in small dollar contributions from 550 donors to pay for a bus tour by the fake candidate, a New York actor. If money allows, Represent US also plans billboards and radio and television commercials.

"He's going to do a distillery tour, drink some bourbon," Silver said.  "He'll probably get drunk while he's telling Kentuckians how he is going to sell them out.  But this is laughable, the amount of money going to these races defies logic.  And you either laugh or you cry."

As Represent US plans to crash campaign events and present itself as a legitimate campaign, WHAS11 asked Silver if he was trying to make a mockery of the U-S Senate race.

"Well, not really. We're not trying to make a mockery out of any of this," Silver replied.  "We're really trying to shine a light on how ludicrious it is that a race for U.S. Senate in Kentucky is going to cost over $100 million, the most expensive race in the history of our country for the U.S. Senate."

Silver hopes to emulate the success of satirical cable network programs to reach voters.  He cited an Annenberg study which concluded that Comedy Central has been more effective communicating campaign finance concerns than news or talk programs.

"We're going where the people are," Silver said.

Furthermore, Represent US points out that the vast majority of contributions to the Kentucky Senate campaigns are from out of state donors, 87 percent of McConnell's contributions are from outside Kentucky and 75 percent of Grimes' campaign donations are from outside Kentucky.

Though McConnell has been a principal advocate for the First Amendment rights of campaign donors with the argument that money is speech, Silver said the Fulbright fake candidacy is not aimed at McConnell, yet McConnell's high profile is a factor in choosing to launch the effort in Kentucky.

"He's going to go to Democratic events, he's going to go to Republican events.  This organization is fiercely non-partisan," Silver said.  "We are not liberals.  We are not conservatives.  We are Americans.  And, guess what?  Just about every American you talk to wants to get money out of politics and get good ideas and American people back in."

"I'd do anything to stay in office," the actor says in one video.  "My name's Gil Fulbright, but, hell I'll change my name to Phil Gulbright or Bill Fulbright or Phillip Mamouf-Wifarts."

"Everyone's watching Kentucky and that's why we picked it," Silver said.

The satirical ads poke fun at standard campaign fare.

"This campaign is not about me," the Fulbright character says in his campaign commercial.  "it's about crafting a version of me that'll appeal to you, a version that visits random worksites with paid actors pointing at things, a version of me that doesn't find old people loathsome, or pointless, has a conventionally attractive but curiously still family."

"Our founding fathers never intended for the candidate who wins the senate seat to be one who's able to amass $50 million or $100 million," Silver said.  "They meant for the best candidate to win with the best ideas."