Far-right group behind pro-Kavanaugh ad blitz suddenly gets cold feet


After a third woman comes forward with horrifying allegations about Brett Kavanaugh, even one of his most prominent defenders is dialing it down.

The Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative group that has been heavily promoting and defending Brett Kavanaugh, seemed to soften its support of the embattled Supreme Court nominee on Wednesday.

Appearing on MSNBC, Carrie Severino, chief counsel of the Judicial Crisis Network, wouldn’t say definitively if Kavanaugh should be confirmed in light of the third woman who has come forward with allegations of sexual assault.

"I think we have to look into this further, but I think from what we know so far, we don’t have corroboration yet, and so I think if the Senate votes on this soon, I think they would have to go on what they know so far," she said, when asked about the looming confirmation vote.

That's a dramatically different take compared to what the group was saying just one week ago. 

"This 11th-hour character assassination does not add up. We are not going to stand by and let Judge Kavanaugh be smeared," the group said in a statement last week. "Countless women have attested to his exemplary personal and professional character throughout his life."

The shift in rhetoric comes as Judicial Crisis Network recently stopped running its ads in support of Kavanaugh:

Severino's halting defense of Kavanaugh came right after Julie Swetnick released a sworn declaration signed under penalty of perjury, leveling serious accusations against Kavanaugh. Swetnick says she witnessed Kavanaugh sexually assault other girls at parties in high school, that he and his friends facilitated "gang rapes" at these parties, and that he was present when she was personally gang raped at one such party.

Today, the Republican Supreme Court nomination process is overseen by two key, outside groups. The Federalist Legal Society is given extraordinary power to groom and select potential nominees, and to then shepherd them through the political process on Capitol Hill, while the JCN is designed to provide political cover in the form of nationwide ad campaigns.

The JCN was co-founded by Leonard Leo, who runs the Federalist Society. The Judicial Crisis Network banks millions in so-called dark money donations, which means it's not possible to find out who is paying for the right-wing ad buys, like the recent $1.5 million ad blitz in support of Kavanaugh.

The partisan group has already experienced an awful few days with regards to Kavanaugh's crumbling nomination.

One of the ads the group previously produced featured glowing praise for Kavanaugh by Louisa Garry, a woman who has known Kavanaugh for 35 years and who went to college with him at Yale University.

"He's dedicated to his work, he's dedicated to his family, he's of the highest integrity as a person and I believe that he would be a great Supreme Court justice," she testified.

But this week, Garry asked that her name be removed from a letter of support for Kavanaugh after Deborah Ramirez told the New Yorker that the Supreme Court nominee had sexually assaulted her while the two were students at Yale.

Will more allies soon be jumping ship?

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.