Democrat Senator Tom Harkin says “one young staffer” was the only person on his campaign who directed and was responsible for the flap over the secret taping of a fundraiser held by rival Greg Ganske. Harkin says the young man got “carried away” by “youthful exuberance” and “went over the line of acceptable campaign practice.” Harkin says the young man was hired to monitor Ganske’s public meetings and asked a Des Moines businessman who had worked for Harkin in the mid-70s to tape the fundraising meeting, as he’d been issued an invitation to it by the Ganske campaign. Harkin says, “It appears these shenanigans were the work of one young staffer who did not have adequate supervision or control.” Harkin has accepted the resignation of his campaign manager, Jeff Link, and installed a new leadership team.A criminal investigation has been launched. Harkin calls the matter a “Dennis the Menace caper” that doesn’t rise to the level of a crime. After avoiding the media for nearly a week and an early denial from Link that the campaign was responsible for handing the tape and transcript to a newspaper reporter, Harkin held a news conference in a Des Moines hotel Friday night, and was surrounded by local Democrats. Harkin told the crowd Ganske wants to focus on the episode because he doesn’t want to focus on the real issues.Harkin says Republicans are engaging in “political antics” by calling for a criminal investigation. Harkin has hired David Wiggins, a Des Moines lawyer, to investigate the matter. Wiggins told reporters he’s convinced the only people who knew anything about the arrangements were Brian Conley and the young staffer, who he identified as a “Mr. Ruthchild.” Harkin said Conley worked for his Congressional staff in 1975 and part of ’76. Harkin says “hundreds” of people have worked for him and he lost track of Conley, and can’t remember the last time he saw Conley. The young staffer Harkin identified as the scapegoat resigned from the campaign earlier this week. Republicans say they don’t buy the Senator’s explanation that a single staff member thought up and carried out the scheme on his own.
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