Member preview

Congressman Rodney Davis’ field director was arrested for assault at his opponent’s fundraiser

And the apology made it worse

Levi Lovell, Rodney Davis’ former field director

Yeah. Not a great look for a campaign when your staff is physically attacking your opponent.

But that’s what happened on August 15th, in Springfield, Illinois, where IL 13 Congressman Rodney Davis’ Field Director, Levi Lovell, showed up at Democratic opponent Betsy Dirksen-Londrigan’s fundraiser.

During the fundraiser, an allegedly intoxicated Lovell began harassing Betsy, her husband and her staff. The exchange was caught on camera by someone in attendance, and the story and footage broke early on August 16th. Over the day, it gained attention on Reddit and got coverage from the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post.

To add a layer of irony to the story, Congressman Davis has made reducing polarization, vitriol, and violence in politics a staple of his campaign. He even has pinned that to to the top of his Twitter profile. Granted, anyone paying attention to Davis’ politics has long known that he has little record of actually standing up for those claims, but this recent bout of violence from his campaign highlights just how far the hypocrisy goes.

You would hope, after such an event, that Congressman Davis would offer a sincere, public apology to the Dirksen-Londrigan campaign. You would hope that the statement would be devoid of political posturing. You would hope that Davis could put aside his role as a partisan lickspittle and act human for once. You would hope that — but then you would not know Rodney Davis.

Here’s his statement.

“My sincerest apologies to Betsy, her husband Tom, and everyone at JP Kelly’s. The incident involving a young field representative on my campaign should have never happened and his employment was immediately terminated. His actions go against everything I stand for and go directly against what I have been promoting, which is more civility in politics. This kind of behavior will never be tolerated on my campaign or with anyone on my staff.”

At first glance, the apology seems genuine. It seems real. It seems almost human. But then you look deeper at three words.

“young field representative”

As a start, “field representative” is so purposely vague that it can’t even be considered the truth. A field representative for a campaign can be, well, almost anyone. It could be anything from an unpaid intern with a clipboard to Rodney Davis himself.

Levi Lovell was not an unpaid intern. Levi Lovell had a very specific role. Levi Lovell was a “field director.” This is proven by Lovell’s LinkedIn page and confirmed by multiple news accounts (1, 2, 3).

Field Directors are high level operatives in campaigns, often in charge of an entire campaign office with staff members working under them. In fact, according to FEC filings, Lovell was the second highest paid member of Davis’ campaign. But Davis’ obscuring of this fact is only one factor in making this apology so pathetic.

Even worse was the inclusion of the word “young.”

Why was it included? Why is it relevant that the field director was young? It was certainly a conscious choice to include the word — just as it was a conscious choice to mislabel the official title of the staffer.

It’s a cop out. Or an attempt at one. This is a U.S. Congressman who thought he could distance himself from his staff member’s incompetence by characterizing him as young.

Betsy Dirksen-Londrigan’s team also consists of young organizers in their early 20s, many just out of college. In fact, her intern staff has many high school and college students who come into contact with voters on a daily basis. Despite their youth and the number of times they come across political opponents, none of them has ever acted violent at an opponent’s event. Never once. And Betsy has never distanced herself from her interns because of their age. Never once.

Can you believe that, Congressman Davis?

Your campaign screwed up. You hired a Field Organizer who advocated for “in-your-face, aggressive guerilla style” activism and you got exactly what you paid for. Now own up.