Meet Rex Elsass, the Man with Todd Akin's Ear
So far, top Republicans from Mitt Romney to Mitch McConnell to Sarah Palin have called for Missouri GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin to withdraw in the wake of his controversial comments about "legitimate rape."
And Akin has ignored all of them. Instead, the man with Akin's ear appears to be Rex Elsass, an Ohio-based political strategist, who cut the apology ad that Akin hopes can salvage his wounded campaign. Politico's Mike Allen quoted a senior Republican on Wednesday saying that "Akin has been in a bunker. Holed up at his political consultant Rex Elsass's office in Ohio with his family."
So who exactly is Rex Elsass?
He is certainly no stranger to controversy. As a young GOP strategist in the early 1990s, he was named one of the "nasty boys" of Ohio in 1993 by Cleveland Plain Dealer opinion writer Mary Anne Sharkey. She flayed the group of GOP operatives that Elsass led as "brash, pushy, mean and rough. They win ugly."
One particular episode in the early 1990s involved the stealing of the official fundraising list from the state Republican Party, where Elsass had been executive director. Elsass was later dismissed as a strategist for U.S. Senate candidate Bernadine Healy as a result.
One of the most famous ads that Elsass has produced - until the Akin apology spot, that is - was a 2000 ad attacking Ohio Supreme Court Justice Alice Robie Resnick, which suggested that the justice had traded judicial rulings for campaign contributions from lawyers. She won reelection to her seat and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce made a show of severing its ties to Elsass before the following election.
In a letter to business leaders in 2002, the chamber president wrote that "the criticism of the campaign's methods unfortunately overshadowed the campaign's important messages about the negative impact of an excessively activist Supreme Court on Ohio's economy," according to a 2002 story in the Columbus Dispatch.