Jim Webb campaign addresses first 2016 presidential election controversy

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb
Image: United States Congress.

Yesterday, a spokesperson for former U.S. Senator Jim Webb, a potential 2016 Democratic Party presidential candidate, attacked the Business Insider for its report Monday that Webb's Political Action Committee (PAC) paid nearly US$100,000 (about 80,000) to Webb's wife and daughter over the course of the past six years. Ashleigh Owens, who represents Webb's Born Fighting PAC, accused the Business Insider of "[a]dding up numbers across several years [to create] a sensational headline". The controversy marks the first for Webb since he became the first major candidate to open an exploratory committee last month.

Claiming the Webb family "has made quite a bit of money from [Jim Webb's] political career", the Business Insider reported that of US$961,515.34 raised, Webb's PAC paid a total of US$91,999.91 to his wife Hong Le Webb and daughter Amy Webb Hogan, with US$14,834.34 and US$24,412.20 disbursed, respectively, in 2014, years after fundraising ceased.

"This story as written misrepresents reasonable compensation for real and provable work done", said Owens in a press release. "The activities of the PAC increased in 2014 when Jim Webb decided to re-enter the political discussions of our country."

According to Owens, in 2014, Hong Le Webb, who works as an attorney, was paid for "vetting design consultants, negotiating contracts and content management" relating to the exploratory committee website. Hogan was compensated for her work in the "administration, management and design" of websites as well as the "handling of FEC [Federal Election Commission] compliance matters".

Webb, a 68-year-old Vietnam War veteran, served as Secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan. He was elected to represent Virginia in the U.S. Senate in 2006 and served one term. Webb favors less US intervention abroad, fewer free trade agreements, and supports gun rights.

According to National Interest editor Jacob Heilbrunn, Webb's views on foreign policy and social issues may attract "anti-war progressives as well as conservative-minded Southern white men." The Nation labeled him the "worst nightmare" of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is widely expected to run for president in 2016.

U.S. News & World Report reported at least one Clinton operative pitched unflattering stories about Webb to media outlets since late last month.