Rep. Jahana Hayes condemns political attack mailers funded by conservative super PAC

Eliza Fawcett, Hartford Courant
·4 min read

A shadowy conservative super PAC has spent more than $50,000 targeting Democratic U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes with mailers attempting to cast her as a “radical” politician, claims which the freshman congresswoman has condemned.

“Jahana Hayes. Too radical for Connecticut. Too radical for Congress,” one side of the mailer reads, with an image of Hayes in the foreground and what appears to be fiery civil unrest in the background. The mailers arrived recently in voters' mailboxes across the 5th Congressional District that spans most of the western part of the state.

The other side of the mailer claims that Hayes is among the most liberal members of Congress and tends to vote alongside “the squad,” a group of four freshman Democratic congresswomen of color including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

The mailer urges support for Hayes’ Republican challenger David X. Sullivan, a recently retired federal prosecutor who has presented himself as a law and order candidate and cast the upcoming election as a “a war against socialism.”

The mailer was paid for by the newly formed No Socialism PAC, a conservative PAC based out of Washington, D.C, which has spent $55,185 on the 5th Congressional District race so far, $35,047 against Hayes and $20,138 in support of Sullivan, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan nonprofit that tracks money in U.S. politics.

Hayes condemned the mailings on Facebook over the weekend, writing that “Super PAC money has entered my race, making a huge investment and doubling down on the singular message of fear and division.”

(Hayes had raised considerably more money than Sullivan as of mid-October, with more than $1.8 million compared to his more than $300,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.)

In an interview Tuesday, Hayes said that she has contended with her detractors’ attempts to paint her as a far-left politician since winning her seat in Congress in 2018.

“Even though this is a newly formed PAC, the mailer and the narrative on the mailer is not new. Actually, it’s the exact same language that I’ve seen over and over again,” Hayes said. “It’s unfortunate and I’ve been intentional about not going negative ... because I think I have some really good work to talk about.”

Hayes highlighted legislation she has sponsored to support public education, strengthen mental health care for veterans and ensure food security during the COVID-19 pandemic, issues she said do not reflect a “radical left” position.

“I’m not a member of ‘the squad’ because I don’t want to be," she said. "I’m a member of Congress. I’m not even a member of the Progressive Caucus. My voting record is actually pretty moderate,” said Hayes, who is a member of the House agriculture and education committees.

The 5th District Congressional race appears to be the only race the No Socialism PAC has spent money on and there is scant public information available about the PAC’s purpose or donors.

Thomas C. Datwyler, the treasurer of the No Socialism PAC, is listed as the treasurer for a slew of other PACs, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. One PAC, the Pine Tree PAC, based in Maine, contributed more than $77,000 in 2018 to Republican congressional races across the country, including in California, Minnesota, Illinois, Virginia, New York and Massachusetts. Another PAC, the Strong Leadership for America, spent nearly $300,000 on a Kansas congressional race in 2016.

Datwyler’s LinkedIn profile lists him as the campaign finance treasurer for 9SevenConsulting, a Wisconsin-based political consulting company. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the company has made payments to nearly 100 PACs this election season.

He did not return requests for comment Tuesday.

In the final days before Election Day, Hayes said she is most focused on talking to voters about their key issues and the work that she hopes to continue in a second term, not political attacks.

“I recognize if I have a finite amount of time to talk to voters, that’s not what I’m going to talk about,” she said of the mailer. “I’m going to talk about the work that I’ve done.”

Eliza Fawcett can be reached at elfawcett@courant.com.

———

©2020 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)

Visit The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.) at www.courant.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.