Flu-Spreading Columnist Angers Bauer Campaign

By Ben Anderson | July 7, 2008 | 8:25pm EDT

(CNSNews.com) - An official with Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer's campaign is pushing for legal action against an Internet columnist who boasted of infiltrating one of Bauer's offices with the intent of infecting Bauer and his staff with the flu.

In a case which has gone largely unreported in the established media, Internet columnist Dan Savage could face legal challenges after he posed as a volunteer for Bauer's Iowa campaign headquarters and sought to deliberately spread the flu virus to Bauer in protest of the candidate's conservative ideologies.

Savage wrote of his infectious adventure in the Internet "e-zine" Salon. He described the steps that he took to spread the flu to Bauer's staff three days before the Iowa caucuses.

"Naked, feverish and higher than a kite on codeine aspirin, I called the Bauer campaign and volunteered," Savage wrote. "My plan? Get close enough to Bauer to give him the flu, which, if I am successful, will lay him flat just before the New Hampshire primary."

"I would go to Bauer's campaign office and cough on everything - phones and pens, staplers and staffers. I even hatched a plan to infect the candidate himself," Savage continued. "I would keep the pen in my mouth until Bauer dropped by his offices to rally the troops. And when he did, I would approach him and ask for his autograph, handing him the pen from my flu-virus incubating mouth."

Savage called his plan "a little malicious" and "even a little mean-spirited" and claimed that those same words could be used to describe the means by which Bauer and the "religious right" carry out their agenda.

Bauer's Iowa campaign manager, Loras Schulte, who is reportedly battling the flu himself, isn't taking Savage's actions lightly.

New York Post columnist Rod Dreher reports that Schulte plans to file a "criminal voter-fraud complaint against Savage" and is "investigating lodging assault charges."

CNSNews.com has not been able to reach Schulte for comment following Bauer's last- place ranking in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary. Bauer's Arlington, Virginia, campaign staff have not responded to numerous phone calls.

But the Des Moines Register quotes the Iowa campaign manager saying, "This is not a laughing matter. Mr. Savage is making quite a joke out of a process I take very seriously."

"By his own admission, he did a reprehensible, inexcusable action," Schulte said. "In a civilized world, I would think we were beyond that."

In addition to any possible legal dilemmas Savage could encounter over his flu-spreading scheme, he may have placed himself in a position to deal with voter registration fraud, according to some reports.

Using the hotel address where he was staying while "volunteering" for the Bauer campaign, Savage attended the Des Moines caucus precinct meeting and registered as an Iowa Republican.

"I was, at the moment, residing in Iowa in a dump of a hotel," Savage wrote in his column. "But you know what? In the five days I'd spent throwing up in my hotel room, and the two days I'd spent at the Bauer 2000 headquarters making phone calls and licking doorknobs, I'd fallen in love with Iowa. In fact, at the moment I was filling out that voter registration form, I could honestly say I would never want to leave Iowa."

Savage signed the registration card on-site and participated in the caucus, according to his column.

Iowa Republican party officials have turned over Savage's registration card to the Polk County attorney's office, according to the Register. The newspaper reports that Savage could face as much as $7,500 in fines and up to five years in prison for felony violations of state election laws.


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