Democratic leaders in Idaho and Virginia say Vaughn Ward, one of the candidates in the Republican primary for the 1st Congressional District, volunteered for Democratic elected officials. Ward was an intern for former state lawmaker Jim Hansen, now the executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party, in either 1989 or 1990 while he was attending Boise State University (BSU), according to Hansen. The Democratic Party of Virginia also has Ward on record as a campaign volunteer during the 2005 Virginia gubernatorial campaign of Tim Kaine, who now the head of the Democratic National Committee.
Ward’s campaign manager, Ryan O’Barto, said Ward never backed Kaine’s campaign, and that his work as a college intern didn’t reflect his political ideology. “He was not a supporter of Gov. Kaine whatsoever,” O’Barto said. “He was not a supporter then. He isn’t a supporter now. He never will be a supporter.”
“We don’t have any more details about what sort of volunteer work he did, but we do have him in our volunteer database,” said Jared Leopold, a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Virginia. Leopold said party records list a Vaughn L. Ward of Arlington, Va. as a Kaine volunteer.
O’Barto said that there must be a mistake with the Kaine campaign’s records. “Nothing’s ever perfect on a campaign,” he said.
BSU’s political science department offers internships with state legislators. The current director of the internship program, Dr. Gary Moncrief, said interns generally choose who to work with based on party preference, though that is not always the case.
Hansen told IdahoReporter.com he believed Ward chose to work for him at the Idaho Capitol because of Hansen’s party affiliation. “I always thought of him as a Democrat,” Hansen said about Ward. “I think he picked me … Every intern who worked for me liked the Democratic policy and was espousing a more progressive world view.” Hansen said interns like Ward helped do research on different policy areas, and read through proposed legislation. He also said he understood that people can change political ideology throughout their lives. “When I was a kid, I was a Republican,” Hansen said.
“Vaughn, for college credit, worked for several legislators,” said O’Barto, who went on to say that Ward couldn’t recall who the other state lawmakers were or their party affiliation. O’Barto said Ward’s political beliefs are apparent in the work he did after graduating from BSU. “He went around the state working to elect a United State senator (Dirk Kempthorne) who was a Republican,” O’Barto said. After volunteering on Kempthorne’s campaign, he worked as an aide for Kempthorne in Washington, D.C. Ward was the Nevada state director for John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008.