Monica Wehby’s Weird Past: Does The NRSC Even ‘Vet’ Candidates?

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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The hits keep on coming for GOP Senate candidate Monica Wehby. As Politico reports, the Oregon Republican was “accused by her ex-boyfriend last year of ‘stalking’ him, entering his home without his permission and ‘harassing’ his employees, according to a Portland, Oregon police report.”

Wehby is seen as the establishment choice, which is ironic inasmuch as the establishment has been known to complain about unvetted tea party candidates.

It’s also interesting when one considers that this “stalking” charge is merely the latest utterly weird revelation to emerge about Wehby. To put it in context, here’s something I wrote about Wehby the other week:

Let’s start with the fact that a medical child-abuse case involving Dr. Wehby is set to begin on May 19 — the day before her primary. In the case, a woman is being accused of “harming her children with unnecessary medical procedures, several of which were performed by pediatric neurosurgeon and U.S. Senate candidate Monica Wehby.” Putting aside questions of innocence or guilt, one can only suppose this is — at best — a major distraction.

Then there’s the fact that Democrats are filing a complaint over a super PAC running ads attacking Wehby’s GOP opponent. The problem? Wehby is reportedly romantically linked to a major funder of the group — raising questions about coordination.

Another large contributor to that same super PAC is a man named Loren Parks, who was recently profiled in a Mother Jones post titled, “Meet the Sex Hypnotherapist Helping the GOP Retake the Senate.”

Of course, just because someone accuses you of something doesn’t mean you’re guilty. This is true legally, as it should be. But in the court of public opinion, being on the wrong end of a pattern of allegations — especially when they are this numerous (and this odd) — is likely to pose a serious challenge for any candidate.

But I’m more interested in the broader point here. I’ve been among the observers urging conservative outside groups to do a better job of vetting candidates before supporting them. If you’re going to spend money, why not invest a little bit of it to do some opposition research on your own candidate first?

Not only should responsible organizations look for candidates who are philosophically correct, they should also screen for candidates who have the right character and experience.

This is not to say you should throw someone overboard just because they have something questionable in their background. But it is to say that — like any good defense attorney — you need to know about everything bad before it comes out. It’s impossible to do a good job of handling negative information if you’re caught unawares. (Presumably, the “stalking” charge would have been easily discoverable.)

And even when due diligence is observed, stuff still happens — and not just to rookies. Establishment candidates have made some pretty devastating gaffes over the years that no amount of vetting would have detected or prevented. George Allen was a former governor, and a sitting U.S. Senator — who had chaired the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). He was so highly regarded that a National Journal poll of 100 insiders ranked him as the No. 1 pick to be the GOP presidential nominee in 2008.

And then he said “Macaca.”

Was Allen unvettted?

Based on the Wehby news, I’m left with this conclusion: Political candidates — even the ones who look competent and attractive — are prone to do or say stupid things.

No matter how sophisticated, educated, or qualified someone might look or sound, it’s probably wise to do some digging into their background before you start backing them for public office. Yes, look them in the eyes, and see if there’s a hint of dodginess — but also do the work.

And even then, it’s a crapshoot.

As ABC News’ Rick Klein observes, “This wasn’t supposed to happen anymore.” Especially, I might add, to an establishment favorite.