One of the state's leading political gossip columns today is reporting that State Auditor Beth Wood is under attack by anonymous cowards.
Wood was responding to questions about an anonymous tip Dome received, saying that Wood had two executive assistants babysit a child at the office during the weeks leading up to Christmas. Wood acknowledged she had the daughter of a friend in the office, but no one was asked to baby sit. She said the tip was another in a series of unfounded attacks against her.
Many aspects of this story are troubling. First, of course, is the sketchy McClatchy practice of following-up "anonymous tips" and then reporting the lack of evidence as though it were news in the first place. Whoever made this accusation has accomplished what he or she set out to do: plant seeds of doubt about the integrity of our new State Auditor.
So in the spirit of the day, let me report my own anonymous tip this morning: I have no reason to believe that the nefarious actors behind Mommygate are none other than the leaders behind the Puppetmaster's latest sideshow, Vigilantes R Us, whose shady board of directors includes the publisher of the gossip column itself, Mr. Orage Quarrels III.
Vigilantes R Us, of course, is a second career for the former disgraced State Auditor, Les Merritt, who was trounced for reelection in 2008 after years of abusing his office for partisan gain. When I called Mr. Merritt last fall to ask about his new venture, he refused to talk to me by phone, insisting that we meet in person for lunch. Fearing for my life, I declined. I'll do almost anything to get the story behind Art Pope's evil empire, but, truth be told, I'd rather drive a nail through my skull than sit down to hear the Old Watchdog talk about how he wants to bring integrity to public service.
So there you have it, Dome. An anonymous tip from out of nowhere that Vigilantes R Us is the group behind the anonymous tip behind Mommygate. I'll look forward to seeing the results of this next phase of your professional investigation.