Read Andy Ogles’ attempt to explain late, exaggerated campaign finance numbers

Republican congressional candidate Andy Ogles has been having a tough go of it lately. First, he blew through campaign finance reporting deadline by more than a week. And when he finally filed, it turned out he had vastly exaggerated his fundraising prowess earlier in the race. And then Main Street Nashville reported his treasurer, former auto dealer Lee Beaman, had also been the sole funder of a super PAC, which raised questions about unlawful coordination.

The conservative Tennessee Star website had been a longtime booster of Ogles and his bid for Congress. But his failure to report his campaign finance information in a timely fashion has made him the target of hard-edged reporting he’s not been accustomed to from a friendly outlet. So he took to talk radio this week in search of a sympathetic ear from 99.7 FM host Michael DelGiorno, who announced twice during the interview that he and his family were voting for Ogles.

Here are some excerpts of what Ogles had to say:

The moment you put yourself out there, you know, you’re going to be put through this gauntlet. You mentioned the whole ‘phony’ thing, you know, the the group that’s funding the ads against me apparently he’s like out of Oregon, some billionaire out of Oregon? I don’t know. But I mean, does he want to think that, you know, some Left Coast billionaire has anything in common with Tennessee or Tennessee values, or that they’re looking out for Tennessee. And so I wish these attack ads, they what they end up doing is suppressing voter turnout. And what we’ve seen here across Tennessee, is that voter turnout is incredibly low.

The billionaire in question is Oracle chairman Larry Ellison, a noted Trump supporter whose company is building a $1.2 billion campus in Nashville that is projected to create 8,500 jobs.

Super PACs supporting Ogles or attacking rivals Beth Harwell and Kurt Winstead have spent $1.95 million. Those running negative ads about Ogles have dropped $881,000 as of Friday morning.

Beth, and Kurt, those are people. And we all go out of our way to be kind to one another. And then suddenly, you get these groups come in, and just pound pound everybody into the ground and the voter is left confused. And, you know, of course, I’m biased because it’s me, but you know, the reason why is they have to make up these and exaggerate anything about me, it’s because I’m the most conservative across the board on all these issues. And I’ve got 15 years track record to prove it. As I’ve fought against the gas tax. I fought against the income tax, I fought against Obamacare expansion in Tennessee, I helped other states fight those fights as well, you know, fighting for low taxes and less government.

One negative ad repeats that Ogles “failed to pay his taxes nine time,” without adding that he eventually settled up what he owed.

If you’ve seen the ad, you know, if you’re listening to I haven’t paid taxes in nine years. Look, if I haven’t paid taxes in nine years, I’d be holding a seminar that would be packed. You know, I could pack an arena with everybody wants to know how to do it. Total baloney, right? I mean, come on. Let’s be serious. And so you know, I don’t owe the county, I don’t know the city, I don’t owe the IRS. My wife doesn’t. We have no business that does. […] We had multiple properties, we had interest in multiple businesses, and OK, something was late. But that being said, we paid. And any interest that may have been due, which I don’t know if there was, was paid. And so again, this implication that somehow I’m a deadbeat, you know, my senior college, I started my first business. I bootstrapped it, I rolled up my sleeves, I pursued the American dream, I worked hard.

Gently prodded about his late report, here is what Ogles responded:

When I got into the race, you know, back mid-April, between that time and the election is little over about 100, 105 days, right? It’s a three-month campaign. Typically, when you run for Congress, it’s an 18 month window. So you have plenty of time to raise money, to have records, etc. So we counted on that, you know, monies that we had on hand, monies that were pledged. But as we moved forward, we watched very closely. I don’t know if you’re familiar with J.D. Vance in the Ohio Senate race. And of course, you can’t coordinate, you can’t communicate. J.D. Vance, his campaign worked in parallel with a PAC that did positive things on his behalf. And so the campaign, we chose that strategy. So we firewalled off some of our donors away from the campaign to go run positive ads, so there’s been radio, there’s been mailers, there’s been doors knocked, that I have not been able to control because the campaign wasn’t doing it. But that was a better strategy for us, which allowed us to have a smaller team. And we could focus more on the grassroots day-to-day with me going to events, doing meet-and-greets. And the strategy is working. I’m leading. That’s why I’m being attacked so viciously. But you know, when you have an operation that already does mailers for other congressional candidates, or they knock doors for other congressional candidates, that dollar that I would have spent on the campaign is worth $1.50 or $2, on the other side of that firewall. So I’ve doubled my money by doing what J.D. Vance did in Ohio. And it worked for him. And he won and he prevailed, and it’s working for me and I expect to win.