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How Low Can You Go? Hostettler Supporter Shows Us And Everyone In The Eighth District

Beer1From the Eighth District, via the Evansville Courier & Press (registration required) comes this tale of completely disgusting campaign tricks:

"Three days after officially becoming a congressional candidate, Vanderburgh County Sheriff Brad Ellsworth came under attack Thursday from a Republican who revealed that Ellsworth's 19-year-old daughter used the Internet to post photographs of herself drinking alcohol."

Who posted 'em on his website and alerted the media? Why, it's someone two of the TDWs are in law school with.

"The photographs were brought to the Evansville Courier & Press' attention by Joshua Claybourn, a 24-year-old supporter of 8th District Rep. John Hostettler, whom Democratic candidate Ellsworth is challenging for re-election.

"Karen Hammonds, Hostettler's sister and campaign spokeswoman, stressed that her brother's campaign had nothing to do with alerting anyone about the Internet pictures. She has not seen them, she said.

"Claybourn, whose own Web site features a photograph of him with Hostettler and other noted conservatives, said he has not discussed the photographs with anyone connected to the Hostettler campaign.

"Claybourn said the pictures demonstrate hypocrisy because Ellsworth, as the elected sheriff of Vanderburgh County, is responsible for enforcing Indiana law."

Okay, let's take this apart one illogical step at a time.

First, is there anyone out there who didn't drink while underage at IU? Tell the truth.

Teetotalers and line-in-the-sand types will argue that the "everyone else does it" argument is beside the point. Underage drinking is illegal. We'll concede that. And regardless of your father's political aspirations, posting photos of yourself doing it -- or anything else illegal -- on a website isn't a great idea.


We've seen time and again that linking kids' behavior to their parents' campaigns is a bad idea. Let's start with the Bush twins. Fast forward to Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter. And now this.

Brad Ellsworth is not the Monroe County Sheriff. It's not like his daughter got arrested, and he helped her get out of jail and then hushed it up. He raised his daughter, and she's of the age where she can make decisions on her own. (Hell, if our parents were held accountable for the stupid things we did in college, they'd be entirely unemployable, let alone viable as candidates for public office. Just kidding. But you get the point.) She made a decision that was hers to make, and really, in the whole scheme of things, it's not a big deal.

All Mr. Claybourn has done, as an advocate for John Hostettler who took it upon himself to send these photos to the media, is make himself and his candidate look slimy while placing Ellsworth's daughter, who isn't involved at all in the campaign, in the victim limelight. Nice work, Josh. You hit that one out of the park.

If you check out the Courier & Press story, you'll find a lot of the more than 100 comments are from people who don't think this is an issue or, if they do, who think it's sleazy. The online poll shows almost 70 percent of people don't think candidates should be held responsible for the actions of their kids.

This whole disgraceful situation brings us to the conclusion that "family guy" Hostettler and his flock of followers would rather talk about below-the-belt issues than the real ones affecting folks in the Eighth District.

Josh, no offense, because we sometimes enjoy your musings, but this was a really dumb move.


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There are some nice pictures of Mr. Claybourn drinking as an undergrad posted online.

You can find them here:


I went to school with Josh. Talk about a hypocrite.

To be entirely fair, I believe the all of the beer-soaked Bryan House photos, which, by the way, also feature my high school boyfriend, were taken after those guys were of age.

Of course, that still doesn't make what Josh did any more ethically justified.

i've read josh clayborne's stuff on the net a few times.

the guy's a greasespot.

Remember, this Clayborn is the guy who defended Prof. Bradford in his public spat with some other professors, only to find out that Bradford's resume was filled with exaggerations, in which case Josh warmed up the old stove and ate some crow... I'd be curious to know how many hours he spent on myspace or facebook or whatever to find the Ellsworth kid's picture...

Well, Josh does admit to wanting to eventually join a group of slimy lawyers and politicians .... guess he's getting a head start. He'll fit right in!

Ah, how nice to see Josh "Four Staffers Told Me the Schiavo Memo Is Fake" Claybourn back in the news. Accurate as ever. The crocodile tears were a nice touch.

Anybody seen the pictures? Do we even know that she was in a public place? Y'see, Josh, while local police are empowered to enforce the law, they generally don't do spot checks of liquor establishments unless there's trouble. That's left to the Excise police. The sheriff deals with D&D, disturbing the peace, and DUIs. In his own county. Got any pictures of her doing that?

I will say this: fake ID is not the fun and games it was 15 or 20 years ago. Chalk that up to hyperventillation about terrorism or illegal immigration if you want, but it's also a factor in identity theft. Plus in using one you're putting a waitress or store clerk in actual jeopardy of doing some jail time. Find somebody to buy and drink someplace safe.

The Evansville Courier & Press wrote a follow-up story today basically explaining why it wrote yesterday's story. When I last checked, yesterday's story had more than 200 comments.

Methinks a certain IU law student might want to start looking out-of-state for a job.

I think the Johnny Ho staffers should watch their tactics.

Throwing stones isn't a good idea when you live in that MASSIVE glass house that is John Hostettler.

Since a beer has caused such a moral outcry from the radicals, let's examine Johnny Ho's morals in refusing to help his fellow man during times of natural disaster.

I saw Brad Ellsworth at the tornado site, where was Johnny?

Just to be clear, the pictures were noted in an anonymous comment left on a general post about the race. I sent along a link to my post, as I often do, and noted that there were some interesting comments which followed it.

The paper apparently found the comments newsworthy, called me back, and asked for my reaction. I gave reaction, probably in error. And I may have erred in noting the comments in the first place. But I did not seek out attacks on Ellsworth or go snooping around. This is arguably splitting hairs, but I don’t think the article portrayed the notification as it happened.

So Josh, you pulled a Ken Starr.

"Oh we don't know where this came from, but hey, we'll use it anyway".

Way to go!!

Are you going to investigate her sexlife next?

Some may find the business end of this link of interest when casting judgement on Mr. Claybourn:


While, as a general rule, I am opposed to stooping to the fray of public message boards, I do find it poor form that many of you, from "TDW" to "harry near indy" have reverted to childish name calling and sophomoric slighting of Josh, anonymously, of course. It would be a terrible shame to leave some identifying information to show that you stand by your comments. I hope that this does not reflect on your conduct personally or professoinally outside of the internet.

I find it poor form that any of this happened, hair-splitting or not. Just because you sign your name doesn't mean you're above the slime. All you had to do, Josh, was tell the newspaper you didn't want to comment. Instead, you went on and on about the hypocrisy of this situation, which really isn't all that hypocritical.

Again, what did Brad Ellsworth have to do with his daughter's decision to drink in Bloomington? And how does any of that affect what should be an issues-driven race in the Eighth District?


Yeah, that's what I thought.

I generally agree with you TDW. I suspect - and hope - that this news becomes a footnote. The actions of the Sheriff's family matter much less than the issues and ideas behind the campaign. Those are the factors that should ultimately determine votes.

As a congressional candidate I don't think this is relevant at all, but as a sheriff I think there's a legitimate debate about whether it is. If I'm a 19 year old that's just been arrested for underage consumption, I'd be concerned and upset that the sheriff's daughter could do it and flaunt it publicly. Ellsworth even called it a "private matter," but if that's the case, wh isn't it private for all other underage drinkers?

Still, I understand why one believes this isn't newsworthy, and I don't think I'd have noted the comment if I could do it over again.

"I think there's a legitimate debate about whether it is. If I'm a 19 year old that's just been arrested for underage consumption, I'd be concerned and upset that the sheriff's daughter could do it and flaunt it publicly."

Your logic is still a little twisted for my liking.

Okay, let's say I'm a 19-year-old who's just been arrested for underage consumption.

I'm going to be angry that I got arrested, but I'm going to know that what I was doing was illegal, much as I'd guess Ellsworth's daughter is aware that what she was doing was illegal.

I might be mad if I knew that she skated on some charge because she's Ellsworth's daughter, but nothing is further from the truth. It was her choice to do this and flaunt it publicly. I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that if she ran it by her dad, he would've given her some advice to the contrary. (By the way, if I really was a 19-year-old who'd just been arrested for underage drinking, my first thought would probably be, "Holy crap, what am I going to tell my parents.")

Let me repeat: Brad Ellsworth had nothing to do with this. Nothing at all. If you want to try to use his daughter's behavior as an example of poor parenting, you'd best include all of our elected officials and candidates with children who've walked on the wild side.

I'm sure the Sheriff would've preferred his daughter not do this, but ultimately, it was not his decision. At some point, you cast your children into the world, equipped with values and the ability to make decisions, and see what happens. This was her bad decision, but it has nothing to do with Brad, the office he currently holds or the office he's seeking.

I suspect you stirred the pot because you thought, as a Hostettler backer, that this would make Ellsworth look bad. Which seems to be about the only way Hostettler's going to keep his seat.

I'm glad you've publicly apologized for what you did, and it probably will fade away long before November, but you shouldn't have done it in the first place.

What's that old saying? Think twice before you speak once? Same rule applies to zapping "stories" to newspapers.

You think WE slighted JOSH? Give me a break.

Calling this sleaze isn't a slight, it's the damn truth.

Attacking the 19 year old daughter of a candidate to gain a tabloid political point is below juvenile, it's amature.

I know plenty of dirt on my local Republicans (whose wife sleeps around, what kid does what drug etc) but niether I or any Democrat have stooped to the this tabloid garbage.

We don't have to do such things because we actually have ISSUES that WIN voters.

"We don't have to do such things because we actually have ISSUES that WIN voters."

And aside, but judging from the Democratic minorities in the state and in the nation, I'd suggest that running on issues does not seem to be a winning strategy.

good point, but I would counter it's the way you run on the issues.

No doubt the Democratic Party has fallen victim to poor messaging and chaotic organization.

It's getting better, I can already see the Indiana Dems becoming more cohesive.

Keep up the good work Dan.

Did this concerned republican post any pictures of George bush's daughters drinking while under age or using secret service agents to get Bush's drunk daughter's drunk boyfriends bailed from jail?

rick, thanks for posting the ITA link, as now i don't have to.

in the comments of that thread, nick blesch points out that gov daniels's daughter has/had similar incriminating pictures on her facebook profile, and suggests that joshua didn't report the young daniels to the star like he reported the young ellsworth to the C&P.

joshua makes a non-denial (essentially saying "you don't know whether i did or not") but never answered the question. i suspect we can guess the answer, but i would like to hear it from joshua.

i also wonder how much that post has been edited. clearly the subject line at least has been changed, as the filename in the URL doesn't match the subject line.

PS. mydd has a post on this story, which atrios linked to yesterday. you might find interesting:

People like Josh are scum. He pretends he is doing such a great service when all he is doing is playing dirty political tricks. He doesn't care who he hurts along the way. He fits the mold of conservative Republican evangelicals.

Onward Christian Soldiers

Hey Joshua "my political career is over before it began" Claybourn, as a Democrat, I would like to thank you for doing something so incredibly stupid.

as i suspected, the ITA link that rick posted has been heavily edited, so i'm not sure which version rick meant to draw our attention to (i suspect it was the original version).

despite ITA's attempts to hide such edits by disabling caching, with some meticulous googling i was able to piece together the original version and post it on my blog:

i would suggest people go to ITA and leave comments there to express their dissatisfaction, BUT there probably isn't much point, as they'll just delete comments they don't want to be read (as they deleted two of mine):

Well done. Technology: So neat.

You know if we're really going to start judging candidate for Congress by their parenting skills, shouldn't we start with Congressmen who historically won't recognize their illegitimate children?

Or do we all want to go back to sticking to the issues?

I've checked out Josh's website ITA and it comically has many pictures of Josh running to get pictures of himself with Republican's he deems to be important. Better delete the Ann Coulter picture until the decision is in on her adams apple. You don't want to be associated with...........well you know.

For nearly 3 years now the Courier & Press has taken "In the Agora" posts and published them as columns on the opinion pages. Under our agreement they frequently do this without asking and without tipping me off. After posting the initial post that stAllio mentions I realzied that the C&P may take it and turn it into a column as they often do. Because the column/response I wanted to offer in print was different than that post, I took it down so that the paper wouldn't run it and would run another submission of mine instead.

I'd be happy to share the original post with anyone who's interested, although it doesn't offer much in the way of interesting writing.

doubt the courier will be running too many of your columns now...

Dude, you've dug the hole deep enough. Stop digging and stay in there with your head down for awhile.

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