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July 28, 2008 - 5:01pm

Davis campaign launches a "fake" Powers Web site

posted by Philip Anselmo in congress, Jon Powers, Jack Davis.

The Daily Gotham was the first to pick up on a sly bit of digital-era campaign mudslinging Saturday when it pulled the curtain on the latest "Jon Powers" Web site (www.powersplatoon.com) to show that, in fact, it wasn't a Jon Powers Web site at all. It wasn't by him, for him or with him. It wasn't from his campaign or his supporters.

Powers Platoon is a tactical fake "Paid for by Davis for Congress," and it's more than just a spitting image of the "actual" campaign site, it's identical — save, of course, the content, which is 100 percent anti-Powers, calling him out for connections with special interest lobbyists and accusing him of waffling on high profile issues.

Can you tell which one is real, which fake?

For those of you who can't tell which site is bogus — though I find it hard to believe that anyone would, for one second, believe the lie — it's the one on the bottom, the one that criticizes Powers in alliterative language that was already hackneyed by the end of the last presidential election (flips, flops, flails). It's obvious. It couldn't be more of a sham and for that very reason is worth a good laugh, at the very least.

But how much of a laugh? Seriously. When do we stop laughing and wonder if this is going too far, as some say. A pair of blog sites that don't shy from the fact that they are supporters of Jon Powers — the Daily Gotham and Buffalo Pundit — think that the site is going so far that it's illegal.

While the Gotham gets a little too nasty and over the top about it — calling Jack Davis a "scumbag" and accusing the site's designers of being no different than people who try to "steal your credit card information" — the question is worth asking: is the site illegal? How?

Buffalo Pundit has this to say:

It’s not protected by the fair use doctrine because it’s not using mere excerpts of Powers’ work product, but has completely mimicked his site in an effort to confuse and trick the reader. Everything right down to the logo, the font, the layout, and even the portrait...

All of these items are protected by automatic copyright held by Mr. Powers. We all expected Jack Davis to use his millions to smear Powers. None of us expected him to do it by breaking the law and deliberately tricking prospective voters.

Is it, then, copyright infringement? What is "automatic copyright"? The Batavian has a couple calls in to attorneys, as well as inquiries sent out to both campaigns: Powers and Davis. Neither has said anything yet, and we're still waiting to hear back from the attorneys.

We also sent an e-mail to the site's registered owner, asking him flat out if he considered the possibility of copyright infringement. His name is Erick Mullen. He gives a Washington, DC address.

Although we have not yet confirmed that it is the same individual who built the fake Powers site, there is a "political communications firm" called  Mullen & Company that is run by Erick Mullen and based in Washington. From the Web site:

Mullen & Company is a political communications firm that specializes in award-winning creative media and strategic communications. To win in politics today often demands a break from conventional wisdom, and Mullen & Company will provide your campaign with a modern, thorough knowledge of media strategy and tactics. To win today political campaigns must make decisions rationally rather than culturally.

In his bio, Mullen states that he was part of the campaign team that elected Sen. Charles Schumer in 1998. A video of Schumer posted on the site proves their connection.

We're waiting to hear back from Mullen.

UPDATE: The Batavian did, in fact, hear back from Mullen promptly following this post, and he has defended the site against the allegations from the Powers camp that it is illegal—you can read his comments below. Further, no attorney has yet come forward to affirm the illegality of the site, and we have to believe that it does not violate any specifics of the law.

Howard B. Owens
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Surely, Mullen has a sense of humor. I ROFL when I looked at the Massa commercial on is site, which concludes with a line something like, "And I won't even consider supporting anything that rhymes with NAFTA." But, of course, Massa rhymes with NAFTA!
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As a Democratic committee member I believe that Jon Powers will win the primary because, in short, he doesn't believe that sending out glossy mailers or running TV ads are enough to winning a congressional seat. However, Davis pulled a low-blow here, this crosses a line, should he win the nomination I will not for him in the general election.
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This gets more Byzantine as you look deeper into it. Tom Golisano has been making noise about donating from a $5 million personal fund to candidates who sign on to a set of pledges Golisano came up with. So far, here's how the website is comming. http://www.responsiblenewyork.com/ For someone looking to spend that kind of dough, Tom might use a little bit of it to actually have a website. Anyway, here's where it gets interesting. This is from the archives of the New York Observer: "Erick Mullen, a respected Democratic operative, had surreptitiously left the service of Team Cuomo to join the Golisano campaign. Mr. Golisano and Mr. Mullen have a mutual friend in Erie County Democratic Chairman Steve Pigeon, a Cuomo supporter." http://www.observer.com/node/46072 That's the same Steve Pigeon who's running Golisano's current endeavor. I'd like to know how closely Tom and Steve still work with Erick. All these millionaires pouring money into campaigns is making me nervous.
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I remember reading about Mullen's consulting business many months ago, before Davis officially announced. And why should they care if they have broken copyright laws? Davis has the money to pay for a defense -- so crossing the legal line is no big deal. I also recall pondering over all these folks "feeding at the trough". From glossy mailers to the really bad Brooks and Dunn "Brand New Man" jingle -- there are plenty of consultants that are happily enjoying their pay days at Davis' expense. Davis spent $300,000 this past quarter. That's a lot of paydays for these people. And what is he getting for his money? Let's face it -- "Brand New Man" just adds to the caricature image of an eccentric out of touch millionaire trying to buy a seat in Congress. And don't forget the Independence party's wives $5000 bribe. It hasn't been a very good day for Jack Davis. Kudos to the Batavian and both Philip and Russ for doing such a great job researching this.
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Also look into "look and feel" trademark violations when you talk to those lawyers.
Russ Stresing
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Reason #1 (of hundreds) for "Why I'm Not A Lawyer": The more I find out, the less I find I know. "it is likely that in the case of a parody the court will focus on the fourth factor of the inquiry, which requires the court to ask what effect the parody has on the potential market for the copyrighted work. If the parody usurps the market for the copyrighted work, then there is an increased chance that the court will find that the use is not fair." It seems to me that by making the "look and feel" of the site so nearly identical, Davis has tried to occupy or "usurp" the market space of the original. Further, "FACTOR 4: THE EFFECT OF DEFENDANT'S USE ON THE POTENTIAL MARKET OF THE COPYRIGHTED WORK This factor is generally held to be the most important factor. See Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enters., 471 U.S. 539 (1985). This factor considers the effect that the defendant's use has on the copyright owner's ability to exploit his or her original work. The court will consider whether the use is a direct market substitute for the original work. The court may also consider whether harm to a potential market exists. The burden of proof here rests on the defendant for commercial uses, but on the copyright owner for noncommercial uses." Again, Davis' use of a nearly exact copy of the original has damaged Powers' ability to exploit the original work. http://www.chillingeffects.org/fairuse/faq.cgi#QID822 The fact that the website address is a Powers campaign staple would seem evidence of intent on Davis' part to "usurp" the market space for the original. Man, I can't wait to hear from the lawyers. I wonder how long it will be from when this is fully investigated online until it runs in local and regional print?
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Hi, it's Erick. Look guys, have a sense of humor and focus on the facts: Powers' side wants to dispute the medium but they can't and won't dispute the facts presented on www.powersplatoon.com. Fact: If you round the figures down, Powers has received 90% (93) of his funding from outside the district and a full 40% comes from PACs and lobbyists. Fact: he's violated federal election law by paying himself rent. Even if you give the candy back to the store owner, walking out the door with it is shoplifting. Fact: Rick Snowden has a leadership role on Powers' finance committee - so says the invitation I have with his name on it. Fact: Powers solicted the endorsement and support of NY Democrats for Life then switched to a pro-choice position. Rochester NOW dinged him for his duplicity. Fact: Powers refuses to call for a withdrawl of troops from Iraq. Although they've begun pulling down all his YouTube videos, it's still there. Fact: Powers, on Harding's show, equivocated on FISA. Just listen. He's blown half his money already without advertising and has a vote share in the teens. His burn rate this past quarter was 68% - simple malpractice. When the fairy dust fades progressives will see that this guy is just like the rest, for better or for worse, and that's fine, but the name-calling, the gnashing of teeth over the spots and the websites is better used against the GOP candidate who has millions of his own (well, his daddy's) to spend.
Erick Mullen
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What's the low blow? Power's has called Jack names in the press, making it personal and nasty. This site delivers well-cited facts for you to read, accept or reject. It's not nasty or personal.
Erick Mullen
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Powers has spent more in dollars - true - than Jack has on consulting fees. Just read through his report at www.fec.gov before accusing me of feeding at any trough, please. Cool?
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What bothers some folks is the fact that the PACs and lobbyists have heaped cash into Jon's campaign. Why do you think oil & gas lobbyists do that? For fun? Because Jon told them to go to hell? No, because Powers asked and they cut the deal. As for your other point, a good one, I have no part in the current iteration of the Golisano/Pigeon operation other than being quoted in the New York Times about it. It's no mystery though, that I know people in the Democratic party like Mr. Pigeon, AG Cuomo among others.
Erick Mullen
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This is fun, actually. Thanks Phil, for the invitation.
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Hi Erick, great to have you here. The use of Jon's website's look and feel to attack him is a low-blow, the name and the site itself is intended to trick people who may support him into visiting a smear site. It wouldn't have been so terrible if the design wasn't the same as Jon's. As to your accusations, or "facts", in regards to Jon, can you provide a link to prove any of it?
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For the record, I'm not calling you personally a "dirty" or a bad person (the same goes for your company), all that I'm saying is that the website and not providing evidence to accusations is wrong and is a waste of time, if you have evidence then I would enter into a discussion with you in regards to it. If Mr. Davis feels that he has to resort to those levels to win, then it shows the weakness of his campaign regardless of your companies involvement.
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Yes, links and actual documentation are good.
Robert Harding
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Mr. Mullen, Good to meet you (via the Internet). Let's get straight down to business, shall we? First, you claim that Powers has received "90% (93) of his funding from outside the district and a full 40% comes from PACs and lobbyists." As my good friend Russ Stresing says, where's the proof? I have this from OpenSecrets: http://www.opensecrets.org/races/summary.php?id=NY26&cycle=2008 According to OpenSecrets (through June 30, 2008) Jon has received 20 percent of his contributions from PACs. And if you break it down by industry (http://www.opensecrets.org/races/indus.php?cycle=2008&id=NY26) Powers has received $6,050 from lobbyists, according to OpenSecrets. So your 40 percent figure is either inflated or you are lying. I will let you defend that. The rent thing is done and over with. The campaign admitted that they screwed up on that, not Jon. I believe they have already refunded the campaign for those funds. I don't see what good it does bringing up this issue again. The problem came up, the problem was addressed and taken care of. In my encounters with Democrats in the district, they don't even bring that up. Mr. Mullen, it makes me laugh that you are harping on Rick Snowden. What is wrong with Rick Snowden's money? Look at his beneficiaries Erick. He has given to Hillary Clinton and Brian Higgins - two great Democrats. Has he given to Republicans? Sure. But considering he gave the max amount to Hillary Clinton in her 2008 presidential bid and has repeatedly contributed to Brian Higgins (along with other Democrats like Mike Arcuri), I don't see your argument about Snowden. It falls flat. Using your rationale, if Powers should give the money back, so should Higgins, Clinton and Arcuri, along with any other Democrat that Snowden has or will give(n) money to. Powers has made it clear where he stands on abortion. He said in front of Kevin Hardwick rather comfortably that he was pro-choice. There was no shaking in his voice then. It was a simple reply. I would worry about where your own candidate stands on women's rights. Approaching a woman and asking her, "So, you a housewife?" sounds like something they would say on "Leave It To Beaver." For the record, I pulled down the YouTube videos. But since you think there is something to hide, I will repost them for you. Powers wants a smart, strategic redeployment from Iraq. I have heard him say that (in person) several times now. He has explained why he doesn't use the term withdrawal. He has said that we should stay engaged diplomatically with the Iraqis. He has also said that we should assist with the humanitarian concerns in the country and assist the Iraqis in that regard, just as we would (one would hope) with any other country. When you say "withdrawal" it makes it sound like you will bring all the troops home and say farewell to Iraq. Strategic redeployment is a much better way to frame it. Bring the troops home, but bring them home in an intelligent manner while still assisting the Iraqis with social concerns. I will let Jon's statement on FISA stand as his position on FISA. There seems to me a few of you out there who think that his statement on the Protect America Act of 2007 was a position on the recent FISA Amendments Act. They were two different pieces of legislation. The Protect America Act, to my knowledge, did not include immunity for telecoms. Thus, you are comparing apples with oranges. His statement following the Protect America Act should stand as his statement on that legislation. His recent remarks on FISA should stand as his statement on that. His money is his money. He doesn't have to pay people to make phone calls, canvass and put up yard signs for him. He's got a strong core of volunteers spread across all seven counties in the district to do that for him. Grassroots shall be "gasroots" every time. "When the fairy dust fades progressives will see that this guy is just like the rest, for better or for worse, and that's fine, but the name-calling, the gnashing of teeth over the spots and the websites is better used against the GOP candidate who has millions of his own (well, his daddy's) to spend." Nice reverse psychology. So when are you taking down the website?
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"What's the low blow? Power's has called Jack names in the press, making it personal and nasty. This site delivers well-cited facts for you to read, accept or reject. It's not nasty or personal." Like what names? A fellow blogger and I asked Jon what he thought of the website you folks created and his response was that it's just old school politics. (See here: http://www.thealbanyproject.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=3868) I don't believe Jack has called Jon any names and vice versa. But doing things like creating what amounts to a smear website brings a negative tone out of the Davis campaign towards Powers.
Robert Harding
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"Powers has spent more in dollars - true - than Jack has on consulting fees. Just read through his report at www.fec.gov before accusing me of feeding at any trough. While you're reading through intellectual property, Constitutional and election law, review the slander torts too before accusing me or my company of breaking the law. Cool?" Powers has been in the race for over a year. Davis has been in the race long enough for one filing. Not exactly an accurate depiction of such expenditures. Accusations are different than slander Erick. You know that.
Robert Harding
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"What bothers some folks is the fact that the PACs and lobbyists have heaped cash into Jon's campaign. Why do you think oil & gas lobbyists do that? For fun? Because Jon told them to go to hell? No, because Powers asked and they cut the deal." I refer you to my initial reply to your assertion that Powers has received 40 percent of his contributions from PACs and lobbyists. I also will add this: What is wrong with PAC money? Barack Obama had his own PAC that gave money to congressional candidates in 2006. One of the recipients? Mr. Jack Davis, who received $5,000 from Obama's Hope Fund in 2006. http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgot.php?cmte=C00409052&cycle=2006 Here is a list (possibly the whole list) of PACs that have contributed to Powers: http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/can_give/H8NY26061 I see a lot of unions on that list. VoteVets is on that list. Giving PAC money a dirty name is absurd, especially coming from you Erick. You worked for a man who had his own PAC: WesPAC. Did you have problems with Wes Clark's PAC? "As for your other point, a good one, I have no part in the current iteration of the Golisano/Pigeon operation other than being quoted in the New York Times about it. It's no mystery though, that I know people in the Democratic party like Mr. Pigeon, AG Cuomo among others." I have spoken with folks in Erie County about Mr. Pigeon. I have yet to find anyone (people FROM Erie County involved with EC Democratic politics) who talks about Pigeon in a positive light. That said, you only said you knew him. Knowing someone doesn't mean you like them by default.
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Its great to be able to get this sort of response from someone so involved in this uproar. Gives the story legs and keeps it in front of people's faces. "When the fairy dust fades"? So, people who support Jon Powers instead of a two-time loser who comes to this area and says farmers don't need to hire immigrant labor are the ones living in a fantasy? You make a point of how Powers' spends his money. How much has Jack spent? And as far as how much Powers has spent in relation to how much he's raised, it seems to me that campaign funds are raised to be spent, not saved. You said this; "He's blown half his money already without advertising and has a vote share in the teens. His burn rate this past quarter was 68% - simple malpractice." This is what I got from the FEC filings. I don't see this as being "half his money", but you can "round down" or round up or use whatever math suits your case. It seems this would indicate that Powers is spending money as it comes in. And you make it seem as if a candidate starts with a pre-determined amount, lets say $4.4 million dollars, and spends down from that. Campaigns, good campaigns, good grassroots campaigns, keep raising and spending money throughout the campaign. Has that been your experience in the many campaigns you've engineered in the past or not? Ending Cash On Hand $488,810 Net Contributions $869,792 Net Operating Expenditures $381,028 Debts Owed By $0 Debts Owed To $0 To be fair, here's Jack Davis filing. Ending Cash On Hand $70,528 Net Contributions $4,495,792 Net Operating Expenditures $615,564 Debts Owed By $1,167,028 Debts Owed To $0 Jack owes more than Jon has raised. And spent 62% more. But, I'm not well versed in bookkeeping, so I'll ask this question sincerely; How can the Davis campaign owe more than its spent? As to your polling numbers, unless its proprietary information you'd rather keep to yourself, could you provide a link? Now, this part is pure speculation. I hope you won't threaten me with a slander case. (Though, I'd like to know what appears on this site that you believe constitutes actionable slander.) Anyway, my worry is that should Jack actually win this primary, he'll begin running what would basically be another primary, this time a Republican one, against Chris Lee. Just my opinion. Not slander. Thanks again for keeping this story alive. This is the sort of thing that will help reduce the influence of mindless radio jingles and tiresome TV commercials.
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Mr. Jones, I appreciate your opinion so I will take some staff time and see about making the backup material more user-friendly and explicit. Thanks for taking the time to write. In the meantime, I'd invite the readers and writers here to explore how to do our own analysis of FEC reports we don't have to rely on the analysis of evildoers such as myself. 1. Go to www.fec.gov 2. On the left margin, click on "Campaign Finance Reports and Data" 3. Click on "View/Download" filings and negotiate the steps to find the candidate. 4. Click to download whichever report (quarterly, end of year, etc) into a CSV file. 5. Import into Excel and manipulate to organize. I like to review by zip code or state; name of employer (this is fun, then you can google it and see who these lobbyists represent). It takes about 15 minutes to master the data and detect patterns such as how much money comes from whom and where they live, or in the case of lobbyists, who they represent in Congress. I do this mostly to investigate the GOP, but it's a primary, so here I am. No conspiracy, no spin, just the facts. And it's through this process, not cherry-picking from open secrets, from which I derive my conclusions.
Erick Mullen
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Mr. Harding, The most interesting part of your posting is what you chose _not_ to address and your very fluid standard for what Jon calls "leadership by example". Can you help illuminate the rationale for soliciting all the lobbyist money (when combined with PACs makes up 40% if one actually does the homework from data from FEC.gov)? Leadership by Example? I see you were struck mute by the fact that 93% of Jon's campaign money comes from outside the district (see my post on FEC above). Leadership by Example? So, the fact that other politicians take money from a low life strip club owner makes it cool for Powers to make him a leader on his finance committee - something none of those other Dems you mention have done. Leadership by Example? We're not parsing words or hiding behind "framing" on bringing home the troops - "do it right and do it right now". Ask Jon for a complete answer to this question: Was it right to invade Iraq? He gags on the question. Leadership by Example? Your confusing interpretation of Jon's FISA equivocation makes the point for me.
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Russ, may I call you Russ? Why start right in with the name-calling, "two time loser"? Jack was outspent by Reynolds and lost one of THE tightest races in the whole country. In doing so, he tied up the RSCC spending money defending its chairman rather than bashing Democrats in other races. Jack jumped on a grenade and you call him names for coming in 49/51. In congressional campaigns, obviously, there are axioms. A 30% burn rate is one of them. Another is that 70% should be used actually contacting and communicating with voters. This past quarter Powers blew 68% of all he raised mostly on, ironically, outside consultants not on grassroots efforts or field organizers, but on consultants based in LA, DC, NYC. Review the data yourself and see. Now, by half, you must, again, do your own homework and not lean on simple summaries. Jon has raised a considerable sum in GENERAL ELECTION funds which cannot, cannot be spent in the primary. Discount that figure and you'll see that I did not round, or bend or spin: he's blown half his money and not on a "grassroots" campaign. Outside of you cruel criticism of my awesome ads ;), the only thing that's mindless and tiresome is this blind defense of a candidate's actions and records without even as much as a skeptical gaze at the facts. ps. It's not fair to have it both ways: on one hand you defend Powers' spending on consultants on the basis he's been running longer than Jack; then on the other hand you guys use summary numbers from 6 years worth of Jack Davis campaign debt. Apples and oranges?
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Erick Mullen said: "he's blown half his money and not on a "grassroots" campaign." Here is a major difference between "Buy The People" Jack Davis and "By The People" Jon Powers: Powers' grassroots campaign is a true grassroots campaign filled with actual volunteers, not paid "volunteers." If you have to buy your support, well, you don't have any. It's simple supply and demand, something Davis should understand. There is no demand for a Jack Davis product and his supply of "volunteers" is inflated.
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Erick, If you can describe your ads as "awesome", my characterization of someone who's lost the last two elections as a "two-time loser" seems fairly accurate. Your description of Jack's history is spot on. He ran as a self-financed Democratic candidate when no one else stepped forward. As the default candidate, he was pretty much left to his own devices and financing and relieved the Democratic party of much of a real role in campaigning against Tom Reynolds. I doubt, however, that it was done in the spirit of altruism you seem to ascribe to the effort. "Jumped on a grenade"? Your inference is that Jack was sacrificing himself for the good of the Democratic Party, knowing he'd be blown to bits. If that was the case, why is he running this time around? It looks more like he meant to win the other times, and wants to win this time around, too. Contrast that with the fact that all 7 county committees have endorsed Jon Powers when Jack decided to run for a third time. The first time a viable candidate shows up, Jack doesn't get those endorsements. I freely admit that I don't have your inside experience or financing and have to bow to your understanding of the conventional campaign tactics, strategy, and knowledge of political money. Not being employed as a campaign manager/consultant/coordinator, I'm learning on the run. Probably a lot like everyone else commenting here, with the exception of yourself. However, I do take issue with your repeated accusations that people who choose to support Jon Powers are under the influence of "fairy dust" or lacking the facility for skepticism. It is that developed skepticism that leads me to support Jon instead of Jack. From what I've seen of him and read about him, I'm skeptical that Jack has the temperament or intent to be able to serve effectively in a legislative body. That's not to say he doesn't have good intentions, but Jack is on record as saying he's going to go to Congress and fight with the Democratic leadership. Jack also has a history of reluctance regarding grassroots efforts. I volunteered for Jack's previous campaigns, and then waited for the opportunity to go door-to-door or to phone bank here in Genesee County. I was never contacted. Since volunteering for the Powers campaign, I've canvassed in Elba, Oakfield, Batavia and Warsaw, marched in parades in Stafford and Leroy, attended fund raisers and contributed Letters to the Editors. My initial skepticism about any candidate's commitment to working hard for their own campaign has been addressed. I've seen Jack. I've met Jon. I don't know Jack Davis professionally, as you do, so I can't judge him on the basis of personal contact. Instead, I'm left to what he says and how he acts. None of his statements or actions have given me any reason to question my decision to actively work for and support Jon. Perhaps there's more than a little truth to your accusation that I'm less skeptical of Jon than I am of Jack. I don't doubt that I'm out of my depth debating financing and strategy with you. As should be expected in light of your chosen career, you're better versed in the minutiae and arcane arts of campaigning. This means I'll have to go with my ground level view and my grassroots contacts instead of relying on polling data-bases and professional war rooms. I'll just have to brush off the fairy dust, rub my eyes, and phone bank for Jon tonight, and canvass for him this weekend in Avon and Batavia. Its all I can afford to do, but given the stakes and Jon's opponents, I can't afford to do otherwise.
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Mr. Mullen, Clearly (at least I would assume) you have done your homework and can supply said homework on the lobbyist/PAC money that you refer to. I don't think OpenSecrets doesn't do their homework though. They broke it down by industry and those lobbyist figures come out to be $6,500. And the PAC contributions were 20 percent of the total, according to the OpenSecrets breakdown I provided in my initial comment. As for money in or out of the district, again I must refer to OpenSecrets. They highlight this too. http://www.opensecrets.org/races/geog.php?cycle=2008&id=NY26 Your claim of 93 percent of the money coming from outside of the district is a little distorted. I have noticed many donors for candidates running for ALL offices that give money from Buffalo and Rochester. Well, the cities of Buffalo and Rochester are not in this district. But these people have an interest in NY-26. But again Mr. Mullen I must ask you: Have you ever worked for a candidate that accepted money from outside his or her district or state? It's a petty argument. Just because Jack can self-finance we are supposed to live by his rules (no PAC money and apparently no money from outside of the district)? If you worked for a non-millionaire candidate in this district you would realize how difficult it is to raise money. I would even invite you to my county of Orleans and take a look at the number of individuals - Republicans or Democrats - that have contributed to candidates recently. You could probably count them on one hand, maybe two. Rick Snowden is a "low life strip club owner?" Don't lower yourself to name calling Erick. In reviewing Snowden's contributions and using your campaign's rationale, all of those individuals should give the money back they received because Snowden is, in your mind, a "low life strip club owner." Let's think about why Jon would, as you say, "gag" on whether or not it was right to invade Iraq. Where was he in 2003 and 2004? Iraq, serving our country. He had no choice, at the time, to support the war or be against the war. Whether it was right to invade is not a question we should ask, considering we did invade and we are there. Asking such a question is irrelevant. I know plenty of Democrats in Congress that thought it was right to invade. Now they support bringing the troops home. I also know Democrats that never supported the war. They want to bring the troops home too. The questions we should be asking are how do we bring the troops home in a safe and secure manner. "Do it right and do it right now" is great on the campaign trail, but what's the actual plan? I see bring the troops home on your campaign's website, but no plan regarding how we bring them home. Jon Powers has a plan. He believes in bringing the troops home within 16 to 18 months (similar to Obama's plan) but staying engaged diplomatically and with a humanitarian focus. My point about FISA that you missed was that Jon's statement from 2007 and his statement in 2008 were about two different pieces of legislation. You can't compare the Protect America Act of 2007 regarding FISA to the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. They are two different pieces of legislation. They had some similarities, but the 2008 bill included immunity and the 2007 law did not. But I saw a few outlets/blogs using Jon's statement on the 2007 law be used as his overall view of FISA, which is misleading.
Charlie Mallow
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Mr. Mullen, Is it your goal to turn every Democrat in the district against Jack? Why would you respond to people with that derogatory tone? News Flash: Jack lost twice, after spending his millions and with all of the Democrats in this area helping him. Putting aside all your slick campaign babble, how do you think he is going to do this time after you’re done alienating his party base in this area? You have just insulted three of the hardest working democrats I know. What are the chances they and their friends are going to work to help Jack get elected this time if he does win the primary? Does your whole campaign have a lack of understanding of the fact Democrats shouldn’t be going for each other’s throats in a primary? As county chair, I really like to do my best to stay out of the fray so; I can rally the troops at the end around whoever gets the party line. You and the rest of the hired guns Jack has are making my job real hard.
Daniel Jones
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Mr. Mullen, I'm an aspiring political professional, so I'm going to try to not be an a** to you personally, that being said, as you can see, you've got a tough crowd to convince here to vote for Mr. Davis. As you can see, Mr. Davis' abrasive nature and willingness to throw big money into ventures such as a political hitman-site has turned off alot of potential supporters here in Genesee County. I'll never forget when he said at a Genesee County Democratic Committee Meeting that Jon had "never had a real job in his life" or when he claimed falsely that Jon drove a "Korean Car", everyone who was there will back me up that he made those ludicrous claims. The fact is this, alot of folks held their noses and voted for Jack, myself included, his immigration and environmental positions make me very weary and his tendency to try to hold his wallet above everyone irritates me. Then, he thinks that attacking another candidate based on those previous made claims is okay and that we should just automatically support him because he's ran before, out here we back candidates because their right, not because their rich. Mr. Davis' arrogant demeanor is whats going to hurt him.....and that has nothing to do with Mullen and Company. I also checked out the disbursement reports, Davis spent almost 42k on consulting, including a large amount to consulting firms that were owned or retained by the wives of the chairs of the Monroe and Erie Independence parties, but thats an entirely separate issue.
Timothy Paine
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Charlie has brought up an excellent point. Some fences can't be mended. How many of us believe that Obama and Clinton are really friends now? How many of us think that all those people that worked for her will now work just as hard for him? Don't assume that a "paid army" isn't as dedicated as a "grassroots group of volunteers". Regardless of who wins the primary, don't step over the line of disrepair. Everyone, right now, is doing everything they can to get their guy the nomination. I'm just saying be careful of how high you're willing to build that wall. Don't make it too high to tear down before November. How many elected positions in Congress or higher have been lost by the Democrats, by Democrats? Stop and think about how many seats went to Republicans but weren't won by them, just lost by Democrats. Reynolds didn't win the last time, it was lost by Jack. Everyone can Monday morning quarteback why it happened. It was because Jack didn't go door-to-door enough, his campaign manager made a poor choice of what or what not to attend, the ground crews didn't cover enough towns and communities, should I go on? The truth is Democrats lose because of fractures in the party. Do the Republicans beat us or do we lose? I love great spirited debate. I applaud everyone for being committed to your beliefs. I say do all you can for your candidate, but not at all costs.
Robert Harding
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Dan, I don't think Mr. Mullen came here to make his case for Jack Davis. What he is doing is trying to make the case against Jon Powers. We all know what Jack Davis is all about. He was our nominee in 2004 and 2006. His song and dance hasn't changed. He is against free trade, an opponent of the Iraq War and he is anti-immigration. Davis' opinion of the war is one I can agree with, but he has no plan. Saying "do it right and do it right now" is a nice sound bite, but it's not a plan to bring our troops home safely and securely. I agree we need fair trade, but just going against any free trade agreements isn't enough. And the anti-immigration is so far to the right that it alone makes Davis look like the Republican he supposedly left behind when he switched to become a Democrat in 2003-04. There is a reason why no one has been going to Jack's speeches. It's funny that they quote Paul DiFiglia in the Lockport paper. DiFiglia was paid rather nicely (a few thousand dollars, if I remember correctly) for putting up yard signs during the '06 election for Davis. We are tired of Jack. It's one thing to get another chance to run. It's another thing when you think you deserve a third shot after losing twice already. Davis dropped the ball in 2006, blamed his staff for it (which was ridiculous considering his staff has openly said that he wouldn't listen to them) and now thinks he is deserving of this opportunity. He isn't. But that message isn't going to get through to him.
Mark Potwora
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This is a prime example of whats wrong with government..its all about power and who controls what ..either its the democratic or republican power..in this case as long as its a democrat its all good..doesn't matter if you agree with him ..just make sure we stick with the party..the two party system is broken..its the us verus them mentality.Maybe those who supported Clinton realize that McCain more represents there views ,but your thinking is so what, just stick with Obama the Democrat.You should never be beholden to one party.Vote whats best for you..
Erick Mullen
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Look, I am not trying to change minds or push people around. Vote your conscience. My purpose in writing is to address the specific charges that the www.powersplatoon.com website contains lies or that I am sloppy with the facts. It's all there for people to see. There are footnotes, government records online and press stories all in the public domain for the skeptical thinker to investigate and judge. Jack has been out there, trying harder than ever to connect with voters on issues that matter, just read his speeches and press releases at www.jackdavis.org. And, for the record, Powers' campaign started the negative campaigning with "Exxon Jack" and "hypocrite" in their press releases. In his announcement speech Jack challenged Democrats and Republicans to pledge to stay positive and reject negative campaigning. That's on the website too. I know it's easier to kick people around, to treat them as "others" and attack Jack and me, but take a hard look at both sides. Jack may not be warm and fuzzy but when he votes on the floor of the House, you will know that each one will be based on Jack's worldview and his conscience. The PACs and lobbyists won't have a seat at the table. It's really that simple. I'm glad there are places like this to commune and exchange ideas and you have my thanks for letting me in for a visit.
Russ Stresing
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Erick, In your latest post, you seem to just want to start the conversation over again at your first comment post. You also don't ever address the appropriateness of using an almost exact copy of the original website's design and a Powers campaign slogan, or whether its an attempt to lure voters to your site instead of Powers'. My opinion of the entire tactic is that its Rovian in tone. And simply saying that Jack's votes will be sincere doesn't really address the way he will vote. Jack is anti-immigration to the point of telling farmers who depend on a migrant labor force that there are enough locally unemployed that the farmers should stop trying to get immigrant help. No matter how you parse it, that statement shows an ignorance of the facts regarding the situation. Its indicative of Jack's single minded refusal to consider others' opinions. Following on that statement, highlighted on his website, Jack made a press appearance at an orchard in Niagara County. That would seem ill-advised, given that several of the growers in that area have had their plights in getting their crops picked detailed in area newspapers. And during that press event, Jack himself admitted that it seems to him as if his ideas aren't resonating with many voters. Even to the point of putting the blame on the voters. This from today's Lockport Journal. "Despite his name recognition and financial means, Davis acknowledges he’s not sure his save jobs-farms-industry message is getting across to district residents. Speeches are sparsely attended and the parades he’s been in get rained on, he said. His biggest people-drawing campaign event was an offer to make gas available at $1.50 a gallon at a Byron station one day last month and he can’t be sure his name stood out after the rush on cheap fuel. “It’s hard to get people out and paying attention to the election; they seem somewhat apathetic,” Davis said. “There is a disadvantage in not having the (Democratic) endorsement, but I’m working my way around it.” http://www.lockportjournal.com/local/local_story_213000836.html It would appear that Jack feels its the apathy of the voters more than the appeal of his campaign that's keeping him from breaking through. Frankly, this entire exchange might make the case otherwise. But, it could be the all the fairy dust.
Robert Harding
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Erick, The problem with your anti-Powers website is that it is negative campaigning - something that Davis said we should reject. You even mentioned that yourself. So if Davis wanted to abide by such a pledge or promise, why is his campaign now engaging in such conduct? By the way Erick, you accuse the Powers campaign of starting it. However, "Exxon Jack" wasn't mentioned until late June. The whole Snowden "issue" was in the June 1 edition of the Buffalo News. So how can you say that the Powers campaign started this? I welcome you to this arena and welcome you to other arenas like it (I'm sure you know what I'm implying). I think debate, without all the BS, is good for this race. Speaking of which... Why not a debate featuring the Democratic candidates in NY-26? If we want to continue this dialogue and let everyone look at all sides, let's make that happen. What do you say Mr. Mullen?
Howard B. Owens
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Erick, as long as we have your attention -- we sure would like to see Jack Davis address the migrant worker issue in more detail. It's an exceptionally important issue in this part of the district, and so far he seems pretty out of touch with his potential constituents in this area on that topic. Can you get him to post a detailed statement (as a new blog post, not a comment, please) on that topic? You might want to check the previous post on his statements (and read through the comments).
Erick Mullen
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OK, so why don't you tell me how we should present the facts about Jon's campaign? It seems to me that despite my efforts to explain my processes and conclusions, you wont be happy until we drink deep from well of Jon-ness. This is not negative campaigning people. We are presenting facts for crying out loud. I know Robert has a thing about strip clubs being good for women, I read his posting. Fine. Other people have a right to their own opinions on the subject. Same goes for the way he raises and spends other peoples' money. Again with the double standard: you kick Jack for not being out there; then you kick him for being out there when it's difficult, lightly attended. Take a peek at Jon's schedule: where are the public events where he proposes policy visions? Not just the love-fest movie nights, but the hard-nosed stand outside and risk yourself, as Jack did in Lockport, to try to deliver a message? I won't be on other blogs. One one them had me featured as "scum bag" of the year, which I resent. As for tactics, I'm in development on a reality show where bloggers and pros compete to create the most effective political campaign. Love to see you folks put up. ;) Wish me luck.
Howard B. Owens
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What about pro bloggers?
Russ Stresing
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Great take. "jon-ness" when its in support of Powers. "Kicking" poor Jack when its critical of him. "Process" and "conclusions". I know I'm repeating myself but, again, the initial report questioned the appropriateness of your site. You've left me to the conclusion that you're proud of this tactic and the site. As you're one of the chief tacticians in the Davis camp, it looks like you plan to continue in this vein. As for your reality show, you're gonna need luck. How small is the demographic for that? But, there's always cable access.
Robert Harding
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Erick, You just misrepresented my post on Snowden by saying "I know Robert has a thing about strip clubs being good for women, I read his posting. Fine." People can read my post and judge for themselves: http://www.thealbanyproject.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=3805 But to add, nowhere in there do I say what you tell the good people here what I said. So if you want to tell people the facts, why not provide a link to my post so they can judge for themselves? Giving speeches is a lot different than canvassing the district, holding meet-n-greets with voters, etc. You might think those are "love fests" but they are great ways for voters to meet with the candidates. Giving a speech that you don't tell anyone about (except the local media apparently) and then leaving doesn't do anything. Sure, it gets you press. But voters don't get to meet the candidate. I have been to a lot of events featuring Jon and at every one there are always new voters or people interested in Jon asking questions. Here's a tip for you Erick, from a blogger to a "pro": The reason Jack has lost in 2004 and 2006 is because he did not go out and meet with voters. When your representative doesn't go out and meet with voters and your other option is guilty of the same, who are you going to choose? I have spoken with people who were passionate about getting Tom Reynolds out of office that said they couldn't vote for Jack either. Jack didn't show us he was willing to work hard for it. He was willing to open up his pocketbook, but I wouldn't exactly call that strenuous activity for him. If people see the candidate out and about and meeting voters, those same people can gain a true perception of that candidate - a more personal perception. This is why people met Jon Powers and liked him. We got to meet him up close, ask him questions and see how much of a Democrat he is. Now, he has supporters everywhere. You are an election cycle or two too late Erick. If this was 2006, it would probably be a different story. But now, people know too much about Jack. And take it from me - someone who has lived in this district. A lot of people liked Jack in 2006 but a lot of those people liked him because he was their only option. If given something better, they would go to that person. That explains what happened this year and why Jack has no one showing up at his PR events.
Erick Mullen
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Yes. That's the concept. Pro-bloggers vs. grizzled pro-hacks. I think I will be a fun watch. Thanks for the question.
Erick Mullen
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Russ, just keep the day job, or whatever, smart ass.
Erick Mullen
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My favorite sentence from your posting on how strip clubs are good for people: "Apparently, women who are strippers are 'exploited.' Nothing could be further from reality." It's hilarious. What's next, how lobbyist money is actually good for democracy? And, I see your hero has launched an attack ad on the IP thing. Good for him. His first outing in the media is 100% negative. Leadership by example, and trust me, I'll follow. Jon has brought a stick to a knife fight. As for your political analysis, I'll continue looking elsewhere Mr. Harding, if you don't mind. Your defense of strip clubs as a positive good calls in to question your reasoning skills and judgment. Just my opinion.
Robert Harding
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Mr. Mullen, Your biggest problem in this debate is that you have failed to respond to a few different questions I have brought up here. For a recap: (1) I asked you about the possibility of a debate. Will Jack Davis and his campaign call for at least one debate/candidate forum or accept such an inquiry from one of the other two campaigns? (2) I also brought up the fact that you once were employed by Wes Clark, who has his own PAC. So does that mean you denounce WesPAC? Your argument first centered around PAC and lobbyist money. Now it's just lobbyist money, apparently. As for your repeated claims that I said strip clubs were good for women, I ask you to read my post again. You can't just make up your own interpretation or summary of my writing and then go around telling people that's what I said. I offered people a link to the post if they want to read it. I will let others judge what I was saying there. Let's think about this IP attack Erick in this context. When you guys discovered that Jon had accepted contributions from Rick Snowden, how did you respond? How have you continued to respond over time? So tossing around claims that Powers is going negative is laughable. You can't forget about your own campaign's behavior in this race. You claimed in a comment that Powers started this with Exxon Jack and calling Jack names. I have never heard Jon call Jack names, whether in person or reading it in print. But the June 1 article by Bob McCarthy in the Buffalo News was the start of all this. You know it. I know it. If you didn't want this to be a fist fight, you shouldn't have swung Erick. That's the lesson you should learn from June 1. Now you are complaining about Powers going negative. All Jack Davis has left is a negative campaign. That's his only option and hope. Run an overly negative campaign and hope Powers lose his support across seven counties. Powers has the support. It's his race to lose.
Howard B. Owens
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Can The Batavian sponsor the debate?
Russ Stresing
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I appreciate that the 'smart ass' comment reveals your opinion of us both, Erick. Speaking of jobs, what is it you do for a living? It would've been the better part of discretion on your part as a paid campaign representative to have done an interview with Phil and answered his questions in an article instead of engaging in a debate in the comments section with unpaid amateurs who couldn't possibly be expected to hold their own with someone of your experience and financial support. Or so you must've thought when you came up with the idea.
Daniel Jones
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Erick, Jack Davis was at Snowden's house, the strip-club point is moot.
Lorie Longhany
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Howard, I would love to see that debate and would love to see it here in Batavia sponsored by The Batavian -- smack dab in the center of the district. I'm sure we could arrange to get the City Center if both parties agreed. What stands out to me in this very lengthy online debate is the contrast between these two campaigns. It is amazing to watch the Powers supporters/volunteers rallying, while Erick is left to debate alone -- not as a passionate supporter but as the hired gun. Where are Jack's supporters and why aren't they jumping at the chance to register and voice their support here? While all this back and forth has taken place today (day 4 of what I believe is the longest discussion on The Batavian) we had 15 volunteers canvass a village in Livingston County. Four of us drove from Genesee to join our grassroots friends in Livingston. Great work, all you unpaid amateurs (you know who you all are). It takes a candidate that is resonating with the people of a district to motivate them to voluntarily drive to another county to knock on doors of fellow Democrats on a Saturday morning in the middle of summer. This is one of the most glaring difference between the two campaigns.
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Sorry I'm coming in so late, but since Mr. Mullen is paying attention, let me add this: Forget for a moment the content of the powersplatoon site. Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that it's all true. No doubt that Jack can make whatever political hay he wants of these things. The fundamental problem I have with it is the way in which it's presented - it is almost an exact replica of Powers' own site, and uses as its url a term associated with Powers' campaign. It is, plain and simple, designed to deceive and trick the reader, and that's what makes it a low blow. As someone who went along begrudgingly with Davis in 2004 and 2006, let me tell you this: 1. He was handed a win on a silver fricking platter called "Mark Foley" in 2006. Only a one-issue curmudgeon like Davis could have frittered that away, and he did. 2. He is a hateful xenophobe who thinks my dad took away a good physician's job from an American and my mom took away a good chemist's job from an American. This despite the fact that they themselves soon thereafter became immigrants. Jack Davis has no use for them, or for any immigrants for that matter, and for that he will never again have a vote from me. Jack Davis is an arrogant, bored millionaire who thinks he's entitled to the nomination and can't stand some young upstart taking the position he bought and paid for in '04 and '06. That's what many, many people throughout the district believe, and Davis' money will only reinforce the theory as true. Oh, and let me be blunt - change the look and url of the powersplatoon site. Otherwise, I'm willing to bet that a lot of us who care about this race will either sit it out or actively campaign for Lee as the lesser of two evils.
Howard B. Owens
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@Lorie In fairness, The Batavian is still a fairly new site. For whatever reason, the first people to take to the site and become regular contributors where a certain segment of Democrats/progressives and Powers supports. The lack of Davis supporters could mean one of two or three things -- that Davis hasn't engendered the same level of articulate, engaged support; or Davis supporters haven't yet discovered The Batavian, or The Batavian just isn't their kind of site (they're not the kind of people to engage in online debates). If the site had been around for years (instead of just months) and we had a broader audience, then we could read more into the lack of Davis-supporting contributers. That said -- we would certainly welcome more contributors from all the various political camps. We believe that when online discussions can be conducted maturely and include various viewpoints, the chance for better outcomes for community and society are better.
Howard B. Owens
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@Russ For our part, we are not particular to whether a potential news source choses to participate in an interview, post comments or even make their own blog posts -- the important things are engagement and communication. I'm quite pleased that Erick has been willing to engage in a discussion in comments. To whatever degree you feel he's dodged your questions, do you think any reporter could do a better job of getting a direct answer? He's had the same questions restated a couple of times, and some among you still believe he hasn't answered them. I don't see how the opportunity to be transparent and honest could be any better.
Russ Stresing
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Howard, I wasn't speaking to the egalitarian nature of The Batavian. I was speaking to the judgment and discretion of a paid political staffer. I do believe that there was a greater public interest and greater disclosure served if Erick answered Phil's initial post by agreeing to an interview. My personal opinion is that Erick thought he could readily sort this out on an obscure website with some doofi (its the Latin plural for "doofus"). Ok, cheap shot. This is my own personal opinion. Not The Batavian's.

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