Embattled Groves councilman hires national consultants for campaign

Published 11:36 am Thursday, May 3, 2018

By Ken Stickney


Groves City Councilman Cross Coburn, who insists he is the victim of a political smear campaign since being identified as gay, has secured a New York-based consulting firm to advise him on his 2019 re-election campaign.

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Consultant Jonathan Scott of Boston said he signed on to help Coburn after Jill Pierce, Coburn’s Port Arthur attorney, contacted him.

“I’m excited to be advising Councilman Coburn,” Scott said in an issued statement. “I believe in the rule of law and the sanctity of our election process. The attempts to subvert that system with the mention of recalls and blind threats against someone simply because of their sexuality runs contrary to what our Founding Fathers intended.”

In a telephone interview, Scott said Wednesday that Coburn had been tricked by political opponents into believing he was involved in an online relationship through a gay dating site. Later, Scott said, nude photos and transcripts of online conversations, which Coburn said he thought were private, were sent to Groves City Hall and to The Port Arthur News in March.

Scott suggested that older voters nowadays might not understand how younger people date, especially through online communications.

The story made national news and was frequently distributed in gay publications.

Scott said he could not specifically identify Coburn’s political opponents, but said he had “some very good ideas.”

“I think this is an opportunity for me to reconnect with the voters here in Groves and in the First Ward,” Coburn said in a statement issued by Scott’s firm. “There are some great ways that federal and big city campaigns do things and I am happy that I have those resources available to me now that the East Castle Group team is managing my campaign efforts.”

Coburn was elected in 2017 after he ran unopposed. He did not return a Port Arthur News phone call made to his cell phone Wednesday.