An unlikely candidate on the road to Richmond

Salahi WWBT

Tareq Salahi’s celebrity merges with candidacy in gripping reality campaign

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

In terms of minority inclusion and outreach, the election of 2012 was a disaster for the Republican Party. Cemented by that infamous “47-percent video,” the GOP message wasn’t selling and minorities weren’t buying. Republicans even lost the once rock-solid Florida Cuban vote.

In his book “Why Romney Lost,” former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum pulls no punches when describing the party’s almost deliberate effort to drive a wedge between their party and minority and lower income voters.

“To be a patriot is to love your country as it is,” Frum writes. “Those who seem to despise half of America will never be trusted to govern any of it. Those who cherish only the country’s past will never be entrusted with its future.”

Perhaps with this in mind, it was noteworthy that in our conversation with the unlikeliest of all candidates for Governor of Virginia, Tareq Salahi – yes, that Tareq Salahi from the White House State Dinner and Real Housewives of DC fame – made his efforts to embrace minority voters almost a central theme of our recent interview.

Salahi has two versions of his website, one in English and one in Spanish. He says he is the first Va. gubernatorial candidate to do so. When we spoke, Salahi was packing to head to the Richmond area to meet with a wide variety of businesses, media and groups including black and Latino community leaders.

The Tareq Salahi of the past few years was a mountain of stress, his world seemingly falling apart around him. He lost a father, his wife and the family business. The Tareq Salahi of 2012 seems calmer, more relaxed and focused like a laser beam on the road ahead. It is a refreshing change.

But there are two Tareq Salahis.

There is Tareq Salahi the candidate. There is also Tareq Salahi the celebrity who burst onto the national stage by attending a White House State Dinner without an official ticket, who had national television networks literally camped outside his Warren County home running a video feed so the morning shows could switch live in case “anything happened.” He forever added the term “gate crasher” to the first sentence of his biography. That same Tareq Salahi once called me to complain about the term in a story I had written. “I am an ‘alleged’ gatecrasher,” he said, ‘Alleged.’ ”

Well times have changed. – So much so that the former Fauquier County winemaker now embraces the term. You can tell by the name of his website: It is a central theme to his campaign which while unconventional, is surprisingly robust. As for the Crash the Vote moniker, “I’m just having fun with it,” he said.

While political candidates often have TV cameras around them, Salahi is often accompanied at events and on the road by entire production crew. “In It To Win It” is the working title of a reality documentary being made for a movie or series to be broadcast sometime after the November, 2013 election.

Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

Salahi says he plans to gather at least 20,000 signatures to get on the ballot, twice the number required. While he is running for the Republican nomination and is currently on the road in an effort to line up delegates he says he will be on the ballot in November regardless of whether he wins at the state party convention.

In the meantime Salahi says he plans to attend every local Republican meeting where delegates are chosen in the months leading up to the convention.

Salahi’s agenda is a vague but populist one that few would oppose: working to promote the Commonwealth of Virginia; promoting business and jobs; promoting troops and defense personnel; promoting the agriculture industry; working for lower taxes and less regulation and promoting clean energy production.

In the months ahead, Tareq Salahi the candidate is likely to show up in your town. If you miss the road show you’ll be able to tune in to your TV in 2014 and watch the recap with Tareq Salahi the celebrity.

Dan McDermott:

Published in: on December 21, 2012 at 1:48 am  Comments (10)  

Schmookler’s vision of a non-partisan, cooperative future

Sixth District challenger’s revolutionary idea – politics as truth, not lies

By Roger Bianchini
Warren County Report

Andy Schmookler, Democratic candidate for Congress in Virginia’s 6th Congressional District issued the following statement Nov. 1, with his seemingly impossible task of unseating long-time Republican incumbent Bob Goodlatte in largely rural, central Virginia less than a week away:

“I’ve spoken often against the threat that I see to all that has made America great. And I’ve addressed many nuts-and-bolts issues that affect our district, including jobs and the budget and healthcare,” first-time political candidate Schmookler began. “Now I want to speak to the vision of the America I am fighting for.

“In some ways, it’s the America I grew up in.

“I am fighting for an America where government helps create a vibrant middle class—as it did after World War II by providing educational opportunities for veterans and by creating a more level playing field for companies and workers.

“I am also fighting for an America where our political leaders come together on the basis of the values we share, liberals and conservatives alike, to achieve our common purposes.

“Americans have always been guided by a vision of our best possibilities.

“Generations ago, a great American president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, articulated his vision. ‘I see an America,’ FDR said, ‘where no businessman can be stifled by the harsh hand of monopoly … I see an America where factory workers are not discarded after they reach their prime, where there is no endless chain of poverty from generation to generation.’

“I too support a market economy that maintains fair competition. I share FDR’s concern that average Americans be treated fairly and have the opportunity to better their condition.

“ ‘I see an America of great cultural and educational opportunity for all its people,’ ” FDR said.

“I agree with FDR that there is no more important investment for a society than developing its people’s potential, and that man does not live by bread alone.

“I see an America whose rivers and valleys and lakes – hills and streams and plains … are protected as the rightful heritage of all the people.

“Nature is not merely a means to private enrichment but belongs to us all and warrants our protection.

“Now let me share some of my own vision:

• An America where citizens get health care without fear of being bank-rupted.

• An America where people –including the most powerful–care as much about doing right as about getting what they want.

• An America that honors scientific fact, and where neither corporate powers nor political parties try to deceive people about truths important to their future.

• An America where the young are educated to be productive, but also to become more whole human beings.

• An America that leads toward a time when horrors like genocide cannot happen, because the world won’t permit it; an America leading humankind into harmony with our planet.

“We once had a sense that we were on a path of continual improvement, and determi-nation to strive along that path. I see an America where that is restored.

“We should always ask ourselves, “What do we want America to be like generations hence?” and try to find ways to make it so.

“As the Bible says (Proverbs 29:18), ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish,’ ” Schmookler concluded.

Andy Schmookler has run for Congress for the better part of two years on a platform of “Truth, for a Change.”

He told me about two months ago he didn’t know if he “had enough time” to turn the traditionally conservative Republican 6th District around – around toward the truth, rather than the expedient political lie so prominent at an estimated cost of $1 billion in political advertising in the post-Citizen United-fueled 2012 Presidential and related campaigns.

I guess it depends on how many people in this part of central Virginia are capable of seeing through the highly-financed political rhetoric, no matter how smoothly packaged and presented, unfortunately it seems, without any legal accountability to the truth …

Published in: on November 5, 2012 at 2:26 pm  Comments (3)  

A Virginia Political Campaign Made for Television

With cameras in tow, Tareq Salahi kicks off underdog bid for Governor’s mansion Sept. 16

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

Alleged White House gatecrasher and Real Housewives of DC star Tareq Salahi will have his entire gubernatorial campaign taped for a reality documentary to air after the November election, according to campaign officials.

It is perhaps the first-ever statewide political campaign filmed for an independent reality show. Public taping will begin at a campaign kickoff at Salahi’s Linden, Va. home Sept. 16.

Although he and his ex-wife and Real Housewives reality tv co-star Michaele refused to answer questions before a congressional panel probing their attendance at President Obama’s first state dinner, Mr. Salahi appears to have come around to embrace the incident that immediately thrust him into the national spotlight and global stage. The event is being billed as the “Crash the Candidate BBQ.” In addition to the media and a camera crew of four, the event offers “entertainment, a DJ, and a Hollywood green screen photo op.” Further homage to the state dinner incident can be found in his campaign website’s name:

The film is tentatively called “In It To Win It” and is being produced by veteran PBS executive John Campbell who now runs his own production company. In a statement Campbell said he approached Salahi about doing the project not out of any political motivation but rather to focus on the human interest element. “Here we have a guy who’s triumphs and tribulations have been aired globally…and he could have easily hidden for a few years…yet he didn’t,” Campbell said.

It is his first political film. Campbell’s previous documentaries have focused on a diverse range of topics from U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds to a Canadian folk/rock band to a trip through the Adirondacks in a 1976 motor home.

Salahi concedes that one of his motivations to run for governor occurred in April when one of his potential opponents, Va. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced a lawsuit alleging that Salahi’s wine tour company had violated the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, a charge Salahi says he denies. Salahi filed paperwork to enter the Republican primary the next day. Salahi’s spokesman Eric Miller “took a shot at Cuccinelli” in a statement to CNN, saying the attorney general had wasted “huge sums of taxpayer dollars on witch hunt type investigations,” including the lawsuit.

Salahi says he plans to announce major pillars of his campaign platform at the BBQ kickoff but says that a large focus will be on supporting the military, both as an economic force in the state and of course the troops as well as boosting Virginia’s small businesses including the agriculture industry and the economy in general. Salahi’s family has decades of experience in the wine trade.

Salahi currently has two co-managers for the campaign, one of whom is a former DoD staffer, Mark Vargas and the other a former White House staffer during the Reagan administration, Andrea Ross.

Ross said the filmmakers aren’t paying for any of the campaign expenses and that royalties to Salahi, if any, will likely come after the election when the movie will air on an unnamed national television network or cable channel.

Ross describes herself as a fairly private person and isn’t quite sure what to expect when she ends up on a tv show. “This isn’t Real Housewives and I am not a drama queen. This is a serious business to us. We’re looking forward to getting out there and meeting people and getting people enthusiastic about not just the democratic process but about Virginia and her future. People havent seen this side of Tareq before,” she said. “Most people don’t even know that he has deep political roots in Virginia and has served three different Governors both Republican and Democrat.”

Ross says for now they are focused on the kickoff event. “We are all looking forward to having people in the local community be a part of this. Anyone in the local community. There is going to be a national television show and they are a part of what we booted a king out to be able to do,” she said.

“We are excited for them to be a part of that. Let’s face it, it is an exciting thing.”

The campaign event is Sunday, September 16th at 5 pm at 440 Scenic Overlook Drive, Linden, Va. For more information visit the website

Published in: on August 30, 2012 at 11:58 pm  Comments (8)  

Cuccinelli announces settlement with Salahi’s Journey for the Cure charity

Charity made false statements, failed to keep true financial records, solicited without being registered with the state

RICHMOND (February 28, 2012) – Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced today that a settlement has been reached with the Journey for the Cure Foundation and its chairman, Tareq Salahi, for allegedly making false statements and submitting inaccurate financial statements to the commonwealth’s overseer of charities, among other offenses.

Journey for the Cure Foundation (JCF) is a Fauquier County-based fundraising organization that was formed to support individuals struggling with diseases such as multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, leukemia, and lymphoma. JCF would conduct fund raisers to raise money for charities that helped individuals afflicted with those diseases.

According to the attorney general’s complaint filed with the settlement, JCF allegedly violated the Virginia Solicitation of Contributions (VSOC) law by:

• using misleading statements in connection with solicitations for charitable donations. Specifically, JCF claimed on its Internet web site that “[p]roudly, 100% of our financing goes directly to find the cure and we have no paid staff.” Based on bank records obtained through the Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs’ (OCA) investigation, the attorney general alleged that only 33% of JCF’s expenditures in 2007, and 0.6% of its expenditures in 2008 went directly to disease prevention-related charities. Significant amounts were instead spent on fund raising overhead;

• knowingly making false statements in a registration statement filed with the OCA, among other things, submitting inaccurate financial statements to OCA as part of its registration statement;

• soliciting charitable contributions from the general public from 2004 to 2009 without first being registered with OCA;

• failing to keep true fiscal records in accordance with the VSOC law; and

• failing to provide OCA with required financial statements when it ceased soliciting charitable contributions in the commonwealth in 2010.

The attorney general further alleged that Salahi himself violated the VSOC law by:

• certifying in a solicitation notice filed with OCA that JCF was registered with the state office when it was not;

• falsely certifying on JCF’s 2008 registration statement that JCF had no financial history; and

• certifying inaccurate numbers for charitable contributions on JCF’s 2009 registration statement.

The settlement includes the following key terms:

(1) The commonwealth is granted a permanent injunction prohibiting JCF and Salahi from engaging in any further violations of the VSOC law;

(2) The commonwealth is granted a monetary judgment against JCF in the amount of $25,000 for civil penalties for JCF’s violations of the VSOC law;

(3) The commonwealth is granted a monetary judgment against Salahi in the amount of $2,500 for civil penalties for Salahi’s alleged violations of the VSOC law; and

(4) The commonwealth is granted a monetary judgment against JCF in the amount of $7,500 to compensate the commonwealth for its attorneys’ fees and costs.

The attorney general was able to obtain injunctive relief directly against Salahi, not just the charity. If Salahi were to form another charitable organization and then commit similar violations, the injunction could make him subject to civil or criminal contempt of court charges, in addition to further civil penalties.

In December 2009, the OCA announced an investigation into the practices of JCF. In May 2011, OCA referred its investigative findings to the attorney general for potential enforcement action.

The settlement, which is in the form of a consent judgment, has been filed for approval with the Fauquier County Circuit Court.

A copy of this news release may be found on the attorney general’s web site here:

Join the conversation about this on Google+ here:

Published in: on February 28, 2012 at 1:02 pm  Comments (5)  

Angle pleas ‘no contest’ by proxy to reckless driving

Texting over pay, rather than alcohol cited as cause of erratic I-66 trip

By Roger Bianchini
Warren County Report

It ended not with a BANG, a body slam or even an appearance by TNA World Wrestling Champion Kurt Angle. Rather, if not exactly a whimper, the legendary wrestler’s reckless driving case ended with a $1500 fine but no jail time attached.

Angle’s attorney Todd Gilbert entered a plea of no contest to Reckless Driving on Nov. 8 in Warren County General District Court. After hearing the prosecution’s evidence presented by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Fleming and the defendant’s explanation of his erratic driving down I-66 following an appearance at the Shenandoah County Fair on Sept. 3rd, Judge W. Dale Houff imposed the maximum fine of $2,500, suspending $1,000 of that total. The judge agreed with the defense that the case did not bear any jail time.

Angle was initially charged with DUI by State Trooper Robert Scally after he judged the 6-foot, 240-pound, 42-year-old Pennsylvania resident to have failed a series of field sobriety tests, including an on-site breathalyzer test registering .091.

However the commonwealth’s attorney’s office later amended the charge to Reckless Driving because Angle blew only a .06 in a legally-admissible BAC test at Front Royal Police headquarters between 11:50 PM and 12:10 AM after being taken into custody and charged with DUI. The legal blood-alcohol limit is .08 or below.

The prosecution presented Angle’s driving record which showed a May 2010 reckless driving conviction in North Dakota and several dismissed driving charges in Angle’s native Pennsylvania.

At the time of the traffic stop following a citizen cell phone call from a motorist and passenger, who witnessed Angle’s driving erratically after they pulled onto the interstate behind him, Angle admitted to Trooper Scally to drinking three beers earlier that evening.

Fleming told the court the arresting officer found a 12-pack of beer in Angle’s vehicle, with two beers missing.

Gilbert told the court Angle admitted to driving poorly and inappropriately. However, rather than alcohol being an underlying cause, defense counsel said the cause was texting.

During the summary of the prosecution’s evidence Fleming told the court Angle was texting the promoter of the earlier wrestling show about his payment while driving eastbound on I-66 away from the Shenandoah County Fair appearance.

As for his client’s poor performance in the field sobriety tests, Gilbert pointed to Angle’s long wrestling career during which he has suffered several broken necks and multiple knee injuries.

Angle was a 1996 U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist in heavyweight freestyle and NCAA champion before launching his highly successful professional wrestling career. Wikipedia describes Angle as one of only four people to complete the amateur wrestling “grand slam” of winning the Junior National, the NCAAs, the World Championship, and Olympic title. He was named one of the top 15 college wrestlers of all time by USA Wrestling and has been named the “greatest shoot wrestler”. According to Wikipedia, after initially turning down offers to join the World Wrestling Federation, Angle signed a multi-year contract with the company in 1998. After leaving WWE, Angle joined Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), where he became the second wrestler in TNA to win TNA’s Triple Crown and the first man to hold all three TNA championships simultaneously.

Gilbert challenged the prosecution’s contention Angle’s offense was a particularly “egregious” example of bad driving in arguing against any imposition of jail time as part of the sentence for his client.

“Were this not a high-profile defendant it is to likely the prosecution would have produced the North Dakota abstract or have had out-of-county witnesses present for this hearing,” Gilbert told the court. “His insurance will be impacted – it will go up – and his license will be impacted in his home state. And there is a stigma to his career and public image … but ultimately it is a case of someone driving poorly while using a phone.”

Judge Houff called the case unusual in his experience due to the length of time and distance of cell phone or texting use causing erratic driving. However, in the end he agreed the offense and evidence did not meet a standard to require jail time as part of the sentencing of the defendant.

And those out-of-county witnesses – nah, they weren’t Angle’s arch-wrestling nemesis Jeff Jarrett and his wife and Angle ex, Karen. They were identified in court as Mr. Mallory and Ms. Knight, who were present but not called to testify. They are believed to be Loudoun County residents, and pretty snippy ones at that … Hey, maybe it was the Jarretts in disguise … NO, I’m just getting sucked into that wrestling soap opera scenario again … I think.

Published in: on November 8, 2011 at 9:56 pm  Comments (3)  

A few minutes with Andy Rooney

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

A version of this story first appeared on Google Plus.

Like most journalists, I was saddened to hear of the passing of CBS legend Andy Rooney.

To most young people, Andy was simply that cranky old guy who read a short essay at the end of the news magazine your parents watched every Sunday night.

But he was so much more.

First and foremost a writer, Andy was never comfortable in the medium that made him so famous. But he was transparent about that, before ‘transparency’ was cool.

Andy didn’t like being recognized and he never signed autographs—except in his books, of course.

I never met Andy but like millions of Americans I knew him from his writing and television work. I know what he represented to American mass communications at a key time of change.

Aside from the fact that he was classy, smart and a great writer, what really made Andy special to me was that he was one of the last of the people who were part of the beginning of television. He was part of that group of journalists and writers who had to figure out how to take their long-form radio programs and perform them under a camera and lights.

In a lot of ways, those of us in internet programming are going through the same transition.

Leo Laporte’s TWiT network started out as a group of former Tech TV hosts sitting around a few microphones and chatting about technology news.

People listened and the show became a hit. Then Leo added cameras and some lights and recently a million dollar studio. But it is still largely an audio show that happens to be available on video.

Many decades ago, when radio was king, a young writer for CBS named Andy Rooney went through the same technology shift. He spoke about it during a lengthy 1999 interview with Don Carleton for the Archive of American Television.

This was a period during which television was born. I wake up some mornings and I say I am old enough to have been in on the beginning of television…

At CBS, [Arthur] Godfrey was radio, an hour and a half of radio five days a week. And then CBS started fooling with television, and quite early on color television too.

But it was black and white [then] so they talked Godfrey into letting cameras into the radio studio. It was nothing. It was [a money] loss. They figured, ‘Well we might as well broadcast this radio show.’

Well gradually, of course, television crept in and the income from it rose and they put lights in the studio specifically designed for television and gradually the radio disappeared and the television came to the fore and the first thing you know it was Arthur Godfrey’s television show.

Enjoy a few minutes with the late, great Andy Rooney:

Published in: on November 5, 2011 at 1:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Video: Thoughts on the late great Steve Jobs

An impromptu discussion on the legacy that is Steve Jobs and the company that he built. And rebuilt. Dan McDermott is joined by former Apple senior advisor Glen Jones and long-time Apple observer Mike Phillips.

Published in: on October 5, 2011 at 11:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

FBI enters investigation as Michaele Salahi runs off with Journey guitarist

Warren County, Va. Sheriff Daniel McEathron discusses the allegation that Michaele Salahi had been kidnapped prior to learning that she had apparently instead run off with the lead guitar player for Journey, according to TMZ.

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

Front Royal, VA – FBI agents (and TV crews) descended this afternoon on the Warren County home of Tareq and Michaele Salahi to investigate allegations that Mrs. Salahi had been kidnapped.

Rather than being held against her will, Mrs. Salahi had instead run off with Journey lead guitarist Neal Schon, according to the Hollywood gossip site which reported tonight that Michaele was in Memphis where the band is set for a concert with Foreigner.

Separate Ways

The first hint of potential domestic trouble in the Salahi home came on Sept. 7 when Tareq sent this writer a Facebook add request with a message saying he had set up his own profile, sans Michaele. This seemed very odd since they usually do everything together.

Then according to Warren County Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron, Mr. Salahi called the Sheriff’s office Tuesday at 11:50 pm to report that his wife was missing. Deputy Mike Glavis called him back at 11:55 pm to get the details. Shortly afterward, the sheriff’s office got in touch with Mrs. Salahi who “seemed calm, was engaged in conversation and assured the deputy that she had left the residence with a good friend and was where she wanted to be,” according to the Sheriff who said Mrs. Salahi indicated she did not want Mr. Salahi to know where she was.

After midnight, Deputy Glavis called Mr. Salahi to tell him his wife was safe but didn’t want to come home.

Don’t Stop Believing

12 hours after the sheriff’s office told Tareq they had spoken with his wife and she was safe, TMZ ran a story saying they “just spoke with Tareq” and that he believed “his wife was abducted but he doesn’t feel the cops are taking the situation seriously.”

According to TMZ, “he believes Michaele had been FORCED to make the phone calls [to the Warren County Sheriff’s office] by her abductor … and believes she is in very real danger … especially because the Salahis have received death threats in the past.”


Tareq Salahi gave interviews to a skeptical cadre of media who had camped out in front of his house for the first time since the White House State Dinner fiasco. One tear jerker was with a reporter for WRC-4 who literally asked Tareq to “swear to God” his story was true. He did.

Dan McDermott
Circle Dan on Google+

Earlier today I spoke with Salahi attorney David Silek.

Published in: on September 14, 2011 at 7:17 pm  Comments (3)  

Salahi attorney discusses TMZ kidnapping allegations

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

Manassas, Va. attorney David Silek did not share his client’s apparent disdain for the Warren County Sheriff’s Office in an interview with Warren County Report today.

Silek has represented Tareq and Michaele Salahi for years.

TMZ is reporting that Tareq Salahi says his wife has been kidnapped and charges that local authorities aren’t doing enough to investigate. TMZ said the Sheriff’s office told them that Mrs. Salahi had called them prior to Mr. Salahi’s kidnapping report and that all was well with Mrs. Salahi.

Sheriff Daniel McEathron has a press conference scheduled at 4:45 p.m. We will cover it and post.

Published in: on September 14, 2011 at 4:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Illinois man facing life in jail for recording police (Video)

The unbelievable case of Michael Allison, an Illinois mechanic facing multiple felony counts for recording on-duty police is analyzed by attorney Thomas H. Sayre, Lynchburg Times political writer Emily Williams and newspaper publisher Dan McDermott.

It is another disturbing example of police using wiretap laws to stop citizens from using camera phones to record their behavior.

Other topics include:

– Netflix losing some content
– U.S. car sales up. Signal for rosier future?

Published in: on September 1, 2011 at 9:55 pm  Comments (4)  
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