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Linda Cropp's Mystery Man

In one of Linda Cropp's new pieces of campaign literature, she depicts her main opponent, Adrian Fenty, from the rear next to the words "Blind Ambition." The mailing struck some D.C. residents as an odd image of Fenty: The man in the photo didn't look quite like the Ward 4 councilman, even if it's hard to tell for sure from the back. And the man in the photo appeared to be white.

Now, Post technology columnist Rob Pegoraro has found that very same photo in a completely different context, at, a techie site with no political content.

In this context, the guy looks nothing at all like Fenty.

What gives? The Cropp campaign immediately owned up to the fact that they had bought the photo from a stock shop, a service that provides photographs for use in advertising, marketing and other such commercial settings. Nothing wrong with that, of course, except that the image was chosen because it bore some resemblance to Fenty--except perhaps in the matter of complexion.

3 PM UPDATE: Although Linda Cropp's campaign aides admitted earlier this week that the photo in the campaign flyer did not really depict Adrian Fenty, Cropp herself today appeared to back away from that admission. At a luncheon with Washington Post writers and editors, Cropp repeatedly said that she didn't know if the picture was of Fenty himself or of an actor. "Our PR folks did it," the candidate said. "If it's not his [image], and I don't know, I would suspect they were chosen because they look like him." When editors pressed Cropp on the issue, Cropp's supporter and campaign advisor, former U.S. Attorney Eric Holder, interrupted to ask "Why is it consequential" whether the photo truly shows Fenty or not. Wow.

By Marc Fisher |  August 25, 2006; 1:42 PM ET
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I got this piece of campaign literature from the Cropp campaign. I instantly thought it was odd. I thought maybe they had manipulated Fenty's image to make him look whiter.

The campaign literature obviously suggests that the figure is Fenty.

Why didn't they just actually use a photo of Fenty?

The only reason I can think of is perhaps they wanted to make him appear more white. I can't think of any other explanation.

Sad, really.

Posted by: Hillman | August 25, 2006 1:52 PM

More broadly, maybe they used it because none of the many images of Fenty that are in the public domain fit with what they were trying to do. It is a crass and disrespectful depiction. I mean, how would they feel if the Fenty campaign to featured an ad of Linda's backside?

Posted by: None | August 25, 2006 3:21 PM

When I first saw the campaign ad piece in the Wash Post I said, "this guy is white." It was clear that it wasn't Fenty, even without reading the accompanying news story. As someone who has designed campaign literature for a sitting mayor in a West coast city similar to DC size-wise, I realized that piece was designed to inject fear on a number of levels. Perhaps the least obvious was the notion that predominantly Black Washington appeared to be on the way to electing a white mayor. Once again, a politician implores fear-mongering into their campaign.

Posted by: Bad Crop Season | August 25, 2006 3:46 PM

They are competing against eachother right? So whats the big deal?

Posted by: hogboss | August 25, 2006 3:48 PM

I mean, how would they feel if the Fenty campaign to featured an ad of Linda's backside?

Such a photo would need to be cropped to fit on a regular piece of paper.

Posted by: Cropp crops up | August 25, 2006 3:50 PM

Whatever the ad might 'mean', it's just plain stupid. Can't your 'PR folks' do any better than that? Do you have a team of trained macacas working on this?

Posted by: Registered NP Independent | August 25, 2006 3:50 PM

NP Independent??? Did you say "macacas"??!! You just provided the BEST reason why "PR folks" will NEVER lose their jobs as long as they are good, and as long as there are politicians!

Posted by: Bad Cropp Season | August 25, 2006 3:52 PM

Define "good".

Posted by: Registered NP Independent | August 25, 2006 3:54 PM

Why are people getting so upset about Fenty being portrayed as white or not? One of his parents is Black and one is White. So how does he want to be portrayed. He's both.

Posted by: Truth | August 25, 2006 3:54 PM

Oh and "NP Independent" means a registered voter not affiliated with a political party.

Posted by: Registered NP Independent | August 25, 2006 3:56 PM

Did anyone get the piece that looks like it's from the Fenty campaign -- a postcard with the same black/lime green colors as Fenty's literature/Web site--but listed negative comments about Fenty? I don't have it in front of me, but I believe I read that it was paid for by the Cropp campaign. I totally ignored her "positive" brochure that arrived the same day in the mail. I'm still undecided, but not as much as before.

Posted by: DC Voter | August 25, 2006 3:58 PM

This is a funny story- Cropp can't even get her negative ads right!

Guess that her PR company is taking her for a ride.

If Linda Cropp had a real record she could run on it. She refuses to even discuss her time on the School Board becasue it was such a failure and she refuses to discuss her first 9 years on the Council because she was part of the government that brought us the control board.

She is now desparate and the negative campaigning is part of that- again she can't even seem to get that right.

Posted by: concerned voter | August 25, 2006 4:04 PM

This campaign is turning into a nightmare. The issues are being overshawdowed by this type of material. Why is Linda Cropp so focus on Adrian Fenty incompetence? Chairman Cropp has done her share of danger such as helping Mayor Anthony Williams seal a bad deal with Major League Baseball. No public hospital and then Mayor Williams endorsed her. You scratch my back and I will scratch yours.

Posted by: Ward 8 Resident | August 25, 2006 6:53 PM

People are willing to make a big deal about anything and everything these days. If the Cropp camp used a picture of Fenty, they would have been chastised. If they did not, which appears to be the case according to the Cropp PR department, they are chastised. It is a no win situation for her. People need to focus on the real issues at hand in this campaign much like Mrs. Cropp is doing. It is a political campaign folks, mailers depicting opposing candidates are just a small part of the whole operation.

Posted by: Andrew Lalka | August 25, 2006 10:10 PM

A Cropp supporter pulled out the Fenty backside campaign piece sent from the Cropp campaign and thought it was great. I looked at it and said that I thought Cropp just helped Fenty sew up the Gay male vote. Then I find out the backside doesn't even belong to Fenty. Can't the Cropp campaign do anything right in this campaign?

Posted by: Backside Fan | August 25, 2006 11:56 PM


At age 45 I hate being spoon-fed anything...especially news and information...and I hate feeling like I've been bamboozled after an election...after the last three mayoral elections I'm now saying ENOUGH IS ENOUGH...I (We) have to get serious about substance, integrity and accountability when it comes to electing a mayor...or we just end up with more MAYOR MISTAKES every four years...the fascination and hype over Adrian Fenty in particular, as well as Linda Cropp and assorted other "front runners"... I've FINALLY come to realize is the true source of what's strangling the socioeconomic progress that most of us complain about year after year...and into another decade...the fact that we're still not a state while suffering from nearly the worst U.S. records when it comes to PER CAPITA educational achievement, affordable housing, homelessness, HIV-AIDS infections, random violent crime, child abuse, spouse abuse, mental disability abuse, joblessness, middle-class displacement and an expanding population of poverty-locked citizens...these are the ugly headlines no one wants to discuss or HYPE during an election year...this is no record of achievement for any of the so-called "front-runners" to brag about when these ills have developed and increased on their watch in fact they act as if WE don't know these problems STILL exist and are GROWING amongst all the condo construction, downtown development, and let's play baseball hype...the tough-to-swallow reality check that I've come to face after 38 years as a D.C. resident is that I can no longer go along with this ongoing political scam or coronation of virtually the SAME quality of candidates from the SAME political party...reviewing the records: factually Fenty is a younger version of Cropp and Cropp is an older model of what Fenty is NOW...therefore this year I'm saving and VALUING my vote as a lifelong THINKING Democrat...on Election Day this November I'm writing-in or voting-in one of the BACK-RUNNERS who's presenting more substance and reality on what matters most in my city...someone who is outside the box of phony politics and false faces that most of us STILL fall for...this back-runner is a real front-runner on the REAL issues, immediate ACTION, long range THINKING, and a functional PLAN to deal with them...he is DENNIS MOORE...and if many of you are asking "Dennis who?" then blame our local news media (INCLUDING DCist) for not doing its job of providing equal and substantive news coverage of all the candidates (mayoral and council) running for office in the District...once you COMPLETELY check Dennis Moore's web site out then go back and objectively compare him to Fenty, Cropp, Orange, Brown, Johns and anyone else on any single or group of issues...then ask yourself what is your vote REALLY worth...HYPE or substance...REAL change or more of the SAME...Moore may not win in the end over the heavy load of hype...and I hope by some freaky fate I'm wrong THIS time...BUT, to respect the true value of my ONE vote I simply can't swallow the hype AGAIN this year...THIS year I'm voting for:


Posted by: Foggy Bottom Ranter | August 26, 2006 12:49 AM

My daughter had three brain surgeries this year, and on the last one, while she was headed to the operation room, the hospital called me to say that her surgery was going to be canceled, because the insurance that she previously used was expired, which I knew was not the case. I called Adrian Fenty at 6:15 in the morning, (because he had perview over the agency that provided the insurance to my daugher), to ask for the Director,s number and he said calm down and give me your daughters soc sec no. birthdate and full name, I will make the call, so I found the number to the Director, and made the call myself, and the Director's office informed me that they had already spoken to the Councilmember and we have your daughter's records right here, your daughter didn't choose a client and we were suppose to do it for her, but it has all been resolved, we have contacted the hospital, and your daughter is on her way to surgery. Adrian called me 5 hours later to find out if she pulled through the surgery and if she was o.k. Now that is what I call a hands on Mayor, Adrian Fenty has my whole family's vote because of that.

Posted by: Hands on Mayor | August 26, 2006 11:37 AM

To: Hands on Mayor
From: Hype Buster

Obviously, your daughter's situation was a unique resolution that cried-out for a good and quick result. Unfortunately, there are numerous more vulnerable senior citizens and their families that had a tragically different outcome from Mr. Fenty's hands on their situation. The D.C. court system and numerous news organizations have exposed this as a matter of record. Of course, this other hands on history may be equal to Mr. Fenty's ethics regarding his not so hyped associates (i.e. Mr. Skinner) and other special interests that are pulling his political strings. You don't get nearly $2 million dollars in campaign contributions within a few months for nothing. Look at the puppet, then follow his strings (and money).

Posted by: Hype Buster | August 26, 2006 7:59 PM

Hype Buster: You must be talking about Linda Cropp who raised as much money (2.4 million) as Fenty but only had half as many contributors. Fewer people with large contributions will equal 4 years of Cropp corruption. Today, Colbert King (August 26) in the Washington Post exposed the Cropp campaign for what it is--void of ideas for the future and full of the old Willie Horton type of political consultants who run a campaign based on fear and misrepresentations.

Posted by: Croppless | August 26, 2006 9:25 PM

Checked my WP after reading the posting by Croppless and found a very unfavorable article by King about Cropp's tactics. King points out some Fenty baggage from 2000 but Cropp has real dirty hands. She should be embarrassed and ashamed. I printed the article below.

Dragging a Mayoral Contest Into the Muck

By Colbert I. King
Saturday, August 26, 2006; A21

To give you an idea of its length, the opposition research dossier on Adrian Fenty, the Ward 4 D.C. Council member running for mayor, begins with an index that covers three pages by itself. Pages 5 through 10 contain background and personal information on Fenty, his wife, Michelle Cross Fenty, their children, his parents and Fenty's two brothers, as well as the results of police record searches. The report ends 146 pages later.

The intervening 136 pages are devoted to an examination of Fenty's law career, a lawsuit over a financial transaction that he and his wife settled out of court, chapters on his handling of two probate cases, additional background and personal information on two Fenty personal and campaign associates, and a lengthy voting record critique. Interspersed throughout the dossier are disparaging remarks about Fenty and insinuations of improper behavior by him, his wife and his friends.

The identity of the dossier's author (or perhaps authors, since the document contains phrases such as "We know the second law firm . . ." and "We have not identified . . .") was not disclosed by the person who handed the document to me after first demanding anonymity. The name of the client who commissioned the research also was not disclosed.

This much, however, I can say: The report on Fenty was given to me by a longtime supporter of council chairman and mayoral hopeful Linda Cropp.

Welcome, Washington residents, to the politics of disparagement.

The dossier seeks to assassinate Fenty's character, denigrate his family and friends, and discredit him as a public official.

What makes the exercise truly distasteful, at least in my view, is that the opposition to Fenty is attempting to keep its own hands clean by surreptitiously leaking the derogatory information to the press, leaving it to journalists to do the dirty work.

That, of course, explains why the Cropp supporter called to let it be known that a thick document on Fenty was available for the taking, provided the supporter's name was not disclosed.

I don't know whether copies of the "research" have been slipped to other journalists or whether contents of the dossier have been parceled out to individual reporters as "tips."

Between now and Election Day, other anti-Fenty stories may turn up in the media. It's a good bet that some of them will be based on information in the dossier. The only question is whether news organizations, if they use the information, will disclose to the public that the source is a Fenty opponent. Or will they pretend they dug it up on their own? Never mind, I'm not the ombudsman or a news editor.

On Thursday afternoon I met Linda Cropp at a restaurant to discuss the dossier. Cropp, after being shown its table of contents, said she might have seen parts of the report, but not the report in its entirety. She said her campaign had not ordered or paid for a report on Fenty, and she stressed that her charges related to Fenty's record as a lawyer are based on public records. Cropp said members of her campaign staff are under strict orders to confine their scrutiny to Fenty's public record and not his family. Yesterday, after a lunch with Post editors and reporters, Cropp told me that her attacks on Fenty's handling of probate cases were based on news reports and public records her campaign staff gained independently of the dossier.

So who bought and paid for the dossier on Fenty, his family and friends?

Later yesterday afternoon, Linda Cropp's campaign manager, Phyllis Jones, called to say that after talking to Cropp, she had something to add.

Jones said, "We hired a professional to do a public records check on Mr. Fenty, which is standard. We received the report and exercised judgment about what information is relevant."

Asked if her report was the same document I received, Jones said her report was not available so we could not compare the two documents. She added, "I have not seen the document you have, but our report contained information that we did not consider relevant." She said, "In the campaign information we put out, we only talked about the public record."

Now, before some of you conclude that this column is an attempt to portray Adrian Fenty as an innocent victim of poisonous politics, read on.

Fenty himself has been a beneficiary of negative campaigning. I wrote about it in a column that appeared on this page on Sept. 9, 2000. In Fenty's inaugural campaign for the Ward 4 seat against five-term incumbent Charlene Drew Jarvis, two scurrilous postcards were mailed to 11,000 households on the eastern side of Ward 4 accusing Jarvis of allowing trash and rats to invade Georgia Avenue and chaos to reign in the public schools. The political action committee sponsoring the mailings, I learned through investigation, had listed a fraudulent address and telephone number, and its treasurer was little more than a front for the organization.

Fenty, when interviewed, said his campaign had no connection with the phony PAC that was behind the mailings. I later learned that the person responsible for the mailings was a friend of Fenty's and had organized a fundraiser for him only a few months earlier. So Adrian Fenty is not exactly politically chaste.

So what's the gripe?

Going negative, to be sure, has long been a part of American politics. And there are hard but fair ways to play that game. That's not the issue in this case. The problem is that anonymously financed negative campaigning has now made its way into District politics. That is in addition to this year's attack ads and demonizing mailings. What we are witnessing in this mayoral campaign is the corrosive effect of money. More than $2 million has been poured into the mayor's race, not counting undisclosed independent expenditures. That can pay for a lot of mischief.

The question is whether D.C. voters want or will tolerate that brand of politics. Voters aren't the only people on the spot. Will the media allow themselves to be used to do a campaign's dirty work? Worse still, is it too late? Has mean-spirited politics now become a fixture on the city's political landscape? What do you think?

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Posted by: How Sad! | August 26, 2006 10:44 PM

I can't believe Cropp had the nerve to show a Fenty look-alike on her campaign literature. The world is going to end!

Seriously though, what do you think they could just ask Fenty to pose for the shot they wanted? Get over it and focus on some real issues.

The fact that Fenty was shown to be negligent in two cases. The fact that he hangs on to Sinclair Skinner. The fact that his fellow Councilmembers don't get along with him. These are issues the voters should be concerned with, not whose backside is shown in a campaign flier.

Posted by: The Horror! | August 28, 2006 10:07 AM

The Horror!:

Your moniker is apt. It must be horrible trying to promote a candidate whose 30-year history of undistinguished school board and council work offers you so little positive substance to share with voters about her.

It's just sad that you've nothing better to offer than second-rate muckraking and mudslinging.

Posted by: None | August 28, 2006 4:10 PM

The Horror!:

Your moniker is apt. It must be horrible trying to promote a candidate whose 30-year history of undistinguished school board and council work offers you so little positive substance to share with voters about her.

It's just sad that you've nothing better to offer than hired-gun muckraking and second-rate mudslinging.

Posted by: None | August 28, 2006 4:10 PM

The Horror: You should be grateful people are focused on Fenty's backside rather than on real Cropp issues such as who was VP and President over a school board which led the fight to eliminate vocational schools from the DCPS; who was on the City Council for over 7 years in the 90's and helped lead the city into a funding and spending mess which led to a Control Board; who has a campaign staff made up of old Barry cronies waiting for the opportunity to get back into the game of sending contracts to old friends; and, while Skinner is alive and well, lets not forget about Marshall Brown, current Cropp Field Coordinator, who was the former Ward 1 Constitutent Services Coordinator in charge of placing Barry loyalists in jobs during the Barry years who was also the center of the "niggardly" fiasco in January 1999 which turned the first month of the Williams Administration into a national joke. Yes Horror, you and your candidate should be grateful some folks are focussing on Fenty's backside rather than real issues such as Cropp.

Posted by: Truth Will Get You | August 28, 2006 4:52 PM

Shame on the post for making an issue out of this. Adrian Fenty's mother is white! Of course he has a light complexion! Perhaps the Cropp people (who I am not one of, by the way) thought the rolled up sleeves and microphone in hand were characteristic of him?

I've never seen a newspaper give such lopsided coverage of a political race in favor of one candidate. I would bet my life that the Post will give Fenty the glowing endorsement we've all seen coming in the articles and opinions and blogs by Post reporters that make him out to be just the saviour our desperate city needs, even though he has shown absolutely no ability to accomplish anything more than being an excellent media hound.

The Post has characterized as "negative attacks" Linda Cropp's recent comments on his screw ups as a lawyer. These are not personal attacks. These incidents raise serious questions about his ability to manage the city's finances. How can he handle a multi-billion dollar budget if he can't handle one elderly man's several thousand dollar budget?

Lastly, I just watched the televised Fenty-Cropp debate. I am disgusted that Colby King thinks Fenty came out on top. It's well known in this city that the Fentys and Kings are personal friends. It's shocking, though, that Mr. King would abuse his position at the Post this way. In this debate, Fenty was inarticulate, hot-tempered, and gave no substantive answers. Even the moderator pushed him to answer questions! Yet Mr. King described Linda Cropp as pedantic? Someone please take back Mr. King's Pulitzer. I used to look so forward to reading his column. I will never do it again.

Posted by: Bea | August 28, 2006 6:41 PM

Bea: I suspect the coverage might seem lopsided because the Washington Post has already made the decision to endorse Cropp and they want to build up Fenty before they pull the rug out from under him.

Posted by: Opinion | August 28, 2006 6:55 PM


From the other side of the aisle, it seemed to me Mr. King was needlessly generous last weekend to Ms. Cropp, when he shifted discussion at the end of his article from how Ms. Cropp's campaign compiled a ~150 page poison dossier on Fenty, to include "balanced" mention of some 6 year old direct mail flyer that Fenty's campaign did not commission. The comparison was a big stretch, and out of the context of this race.

Of course Mr. King saw that Ms. Cropp discredited herself in the debate. She attempted to claim credit for balanced budgets, which only started when the Congress and the Control Board stripped her council (and our whole our city) of many elements of Home Rule by putting us into receivership. Did you like the slick way she tried to gloss over the fact that her council was under federal oversight, and that Williams was our head accountant, when she presented her first balanced budget? Ah, 1996-1997. Those were good old days- when uncollected trash reached 5 feet high at street corners around the city, and people were still fleeing the city in droves....

Don't kid yourself. It's not like Ms. Cropp has ever a driving force behind our economic renaissance. Really, she's never been the leader her backers would have us believe. She's too eager to go-along and get-along. As current and future proof of this, look at the issues campaign people are talking about. Fenty advanced them as his agenda, not Cropp.

Posted by: None | August 28, 2006 11:03 PM

This piece of in depth political analysis is genius. I mean it really shows how in tune the Washington Post is with the real issues that face DC.

Congrats to the FENTY Cheerleading dept at the Post who have uncovered this nagging, suspenseful mystery.

Posted by: Quincy St NW | August 30, 2006 5:31 AM

This piece of in depth political analysis is genius. I mean it really shows how in tune the Washington Post is with the real issues that face DC.

Congrats to the FENTY Cheerleading dept at the Post who have uncovered this nagging, suspenseful mystery.

Posted by: Quincy St NW | August 30, 2006 5:32 AM

Fight the Hype:
The real story is both Fenty's and Cropp's leadership still has not changed D.C.'s low educational achievement, unaffordable housing, expanding homelessness, rising HIV-AIDS infections, more random violent crime, increasing joblessness, middle-class displacement and an expanding population of poverty-locked citizens.

Posted by: Forgotten Washingtonian | August 30, 2006 11:43 AM

I wish the Washington Post spent as much time researching Fenty's past as it did researching his ass. Cropp's negative "attacks" have been entirely based on his professional career, on issues that the Post has overlooked because they've been too busy running his campaign.

Posted by: Fed up with Post coverage | August 30, 2006 3:50 PM

For goodness sake, I wish Fisher would give the inconsequential crap a rest. Despite all his defenses of Fenty and attacks on Cropp, I hope people note that so far, and it has been a while, the Fenty campaign has NOT REFUTED ANYTHING brought to light. I am tired of the Post acting as the Fenty PR arm. It's actions in this respect do nothing good for OUR city.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 30, 2006 4:28 PM

For goodness sake, I wish Fisher would give the inconsequential crap a rest. Despite all his defenses of Fenty and attacks on Cropp, I hope people note that so far, and it has been a while, the Fenty campaign has NOT REFUTED ANYTHING brought to light. I am tired of the Post acting as the Fenty PR arm. It's actions in this respect do nothing good for OUR city.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 30, 2006 4:28 PM

Is the Post on the Fenty payroll? THIS is astonishing! The question is did Fenty commit indictable FRAUD as an attorney or did he not. Don't people lose their licenses for this sort of thing>? Fenty couldn't learn how to practice law in three years of law school. How long do you think it will take him to learn how to run the highly complex $8 billion enterprise called teh District of Columbia? By not addressing facts of this matter is the Post saying that it does not matter? I certianly hope the electorate sets higher standards.

Posted by: Claudia Pharis | August 30, 2006 6:09 PM

Obviously Marc Fisher likes Fnty. And with good reason. Fenty is an effective campaigner and an effective leader.

You guys (or are those just multiple aliases?) sound like Cropp, blaming Fenty and people who like him. Can't you run on your candidate's record?

I certainly wouldn't bet that the Post will endorse him though. Hopefully the Post will endorse him or Johns, but I think a Cropp endorsement is pretty likely.

Posted by: NW | August 31, 2006 8:28 AM

Cropps's desperation is showing. As an attorney myself, I find her ads regarding two incidents early in Mr. Fenty's career offensive. She is part of the old guard and it is time for her to go.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 31, 2006 10:41 AM

Saw Fenty's advert last night. Says nothing about what he has done for the betterment of the city. In fact many of the positive images depicted, like real estste development, he has consistently been against. At the end he stood there looking uncomfortable. I would like to know what he has done and how that is a foundation for the future. But for now... I find him unimpressive at best.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 31, 2006 11:36 AM

Fenty's against real estate development? Where in heck did you get that idea?

All you need to do is look at what he's done for Georgia Ave. and Takoma DC and other parts of Ward 4 where he's been out front for development in areas of critical need.

When will people stop making things up about this guy? gimme a break!

Posted by: Ward 3 | August 31, 2006 11:50 AM

Hi Claudia Pharis: Sorry I missed your posting on August 30th but I was otherwise engaged. Enjoyed your wondering if the Post was on Fenty's payroll, but then again the Office of Campaign Finance Reports indicates you gave two contributions to the Cropp Campaign totaling $1200 starting in June. At least we now know where your loyalities are.

Posted by: Croppless | September 1, 2006 1:21 PM

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