Browse Day

July 27, 2016

John Brunner’s Charade, part I

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Why in the world would a political operative who once worked for John Brunner out himself and expose Brunner as either a liar or a patsy two weeks before an election?

Reggie Lampert: Of course, you won’t be able to lie on your back for a while but then you can lie from any position, can’t you?
Charade, 1963

Things just got weirder in Missouri. After the stunning revelation that people associated with John Brunner’s campaign did, in fact, produce a false, negative video attacking Eric Greitens, you might be wondering what’s going on?

First, in case you missed it, Eric Greitens exposed Brunner’s deceptions at a recent debate. Watch:

After months of denying any involvement in the video, Brunner’s only response was a lame intra-military joke. Brunner’s later attempts to deny Greitens’s charge seemed coached and desperate.

Now, recall that my predictive skills have been very sharp of late as I try to unravel this amazing story of political charades. It’s like a great old movie.

As I pointed out last year, John Brunner was never supposed to win the nomination. It seems clear that the smirking political class used John Brunner and his money to try to damage Eric Greitens, as I reported July 18, 2015, by attacking Greitens and splitting the outsider/conservative vote.

Now it seems that strategy might fall apart. In this year of the outsider, Greitens and Brunner consistently poll first and second in public polling. But it’s pretty clear that Republican elites–some loyal to Catherine Hanaway, others loyal to Peter Kinder–encouraged Brunner to run for governor in 2016.

Second, in that July 18 post, I pointed out that the GOP consultant running Brunner’s campaign has a bit of a conflict, too. That consultant is a longtime friend of Lt. Governor Peter Kinder. They both grew up in the tight Republican community of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Peter Kinder is also a candidate for governor.

To be fair, I spoke to several Republican Party insiders who are supporting Greitens to varying degrees. They assured me that Brunner’s consultant, David Barklage, is not working with Peter Kinder behind the scenes. So I’ll take their word for it. But there’s a lot of psychology in play with these people—Brunner, Kinder, and Barklage. So I’m going to explore that in a bit.

But first, let’s talk about that shadowy Navy SEAL who came to town a couple weeks ago and the bad things we learned about John Brunner.

The Big Reveal

We all know that John Brunner denied any involvement in the SEALs video. Flat denial, many times. Brunner gave himself zero wiggle room. Even Bill Clinton couldn’t weasel his way out of Brunner’s denials.

Then Paul Holzer came to town.

Paul Holzer is a former Navy SEAL and much more, as we’ll see tomorrow. Two weeks ago, Holzer went on a media tour around Missouri, outing himself as the man behind the attack video. But even last week Holzer tried to conceal his

But even last week Holzer tried to conceal his paid position on Brunner’s campaign.

According to STLToday, Holzer specifically denied any involvement in the Missouri governor’s race.

Here’s the truth. About the time I was writing that July 18 post, Paul Holzer and his brother, Adam McLain, worked on John Brunner’s campaign staff. Holzer alone raked in nearly $100,000 from the Brunner campaign last year before leaving to work with two shadowy organizations.

For months, the Brunner campaign denied any involvement in planning, producing, and distributing the video. Last year, Brunner denied any campaign involvement in a fake Greitens website operated by Holzer and McLain. In between, Brunner denied leaking a surreptitiously recorded phone call from Eric Greitens, even though Brunner had exclusive access to the recording. Clearly, Team Brunner has been less than forthcoming all along.

The revelation that Brunner’s former chief of staff produced the hit video raises many questions:

  • Who commissioned the video?
  • Who told Holzer to out himself last week?
  • Who paid for Holzer’s media tour in Missouri?
  • Why is Holzer so disloyal to Brunner?
  • Was Brunner really lying, or did someone keep him in the dark all along?

Over the next three days, let’s see if we can build some logical answers to these questions that go to the heart of the Missouri Republican charade.

Part one of a three-part series.