An Admission

Culprit is found.

A campaign aide to Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor turned himself in today and admitted setting a fire in a building housing Taylor’s campaign headquarters.

Josh White, 29, research director for Taylor’s gubernatorial campaign, told investigators he was upset about failing to complete an assignment for the campaign, authorities said.

Sounds like the poor guy needs some help.


  1. Melb says:

    I know Josh as well and this is not him. I don’t know what happened completely, but I know he was under a lot of stress, physically and emotionally, which is no excuse, but I just hope he is going to be okay and will be able to recover from this incident. I for one am praying for him.

  2. atlantaman says:

    I hope there are not a lot of procrastinators hearing about this. The whole “torch your office” technique might start to takeoff.

    Why do something today that you can torch tomorrow?

  3. Decaturguy says:

    It’s a bizarre story and I think additional questions need to be answered. What was the research project he was working on?

  4. MountainThinker says:

    Would we, and more to the point the Atlanta Media, be soft-shoeing this issue if this event occured within the Perdue Campaign? Would we be concerned for someone’s mental and emotional well-being or would the media be saying that it is a sign of campaign and administration leadership, calling the campaign self-destructive, etc. I don’t know Josh, and maybe he’s a charming, likable person…but his actions were criminal, and his intent was obviously to burn the place to ground, not to create a few fires that burned themselves out. He’s now become an arsonist, a very serious crime; though it does make one wonder what compelled him to do it…did he uncover something on Mark Taylor accidentally that led him to try to undo him as a ‘principled’ democrat….anyone see Primary Colors?

  5. As someone who knows Josh very well but didn’t know the depth or even existence of emotional stress, etc, I can tell you that what I think happened is that he flipped out about something and this was his horribly misguided response. Was it some sort of plot on the part of the campaign as a whole — I’d be about 99.9% sure that it was just the actions of one misguided person at one horribly misguided moment in time.

    This kind of campaign research is very stressful, 80+ hours a week for little pay. Very few people can handle it just to take the job and campaigns often have high turnover as even very skilled people work for a short period and then are emotionally and physically spent.

    If the project Josh was working on is relevant to the fire then I’m sure it will come out in the investigation and into the media. But people on this board who are eager to use this terrible personal tragedy for Josh, his family and his friends to see inside an organization they otherwise wouldn’t be able to should imagine something like this happening where they work and wonder if that would create a liscense to open up to the world their corporate and personal affairs.

    No, everyone should sit tight and wait and see what develops. It sounds like Josh has given investigators a straight story, and it would be irresponsible to just jumpt to conclusions about events like John Oxendine has — picking just one example I know was wrong from Oxendine’s rush to get press on this issue is that Josh most certainly does not have a girlfriend living in Tennessee (or anywhere else).

  6. buzzbrockway says:

    How did Oxendine jump to conclusions? Yesterday they said White was a person of interest and then White turned himself in and confessed. How is that jumping to conclusions?

    I have no idea what White’s motives were and I don’t really care. I don’t think this is an issue that will affect Taylor’s perception amongst Democrat voters. It’s just a case of a guy who cracked under the pressure.

  7. atlantaman says:

    There are a lot of folks who seem to want to make excuses for him becuase they know him and he’s a really nice guy. He was under a lot of stress, 80 work weeks, low pay etc.. – basically your typical staffer campaign job

    Well there are a lof of people out there under a lot of pressure (inside and outside of politics) and they don’t set fire to the building when they’ve missed a deadline.

    I do find it interesting that if you go to there is no story. I looked at the main page, metro, and legislature so if it’s there they’ve got it hidden pretty well. Perhaps they are too busy covering the “Galdiators free Bobble Head giveaway” story.

    Do you think if one of Sonny’s staffers set fire to his headquarters there would be more coverage?

  8. Eddie T says:

    Where have you been, atlantaman? It was the top story on the front page of all day yesterday and is, in fact, still on the front page under “More Headlines”–“Aide Admits Fire” There’s even a link to the video report.

    So blindingly partisan it hurts…really.

  9. Yeah if you look at the AJC’s top stories (it comes up under other pages) it’s nowhere to be seen. Generally, a story has to be about sports, traffic, weather or a dog or cat for the fearless readers of the AJC to actually follow the links.

    Remember when the Gore campaign received videotapes of Bush’s debate prep in 2000. A lot of people initially thought Gore had stolen them somehow but then a lowly Bush campaign worker admitted to mailing them? That story was hardly covered in the press, although it *should* have been a lot bigger.

    I think if one of Sonny’s staffers set fire, it might be a bigger story simply because he is the incumbent governor and when he opens his mouth reporters rush to cover what he has to say.

    I also think that if there is an important story that comes out the same day as a story about “Dog pulls off amazing feat” or “DeKalb buys house with bonus — ghosts” or “Drive 55 — try to stay alive” the great readers of this great paper will naturally gravitate towards the latter.

  10. GAWire says:

    Firstly, don’t kid yourself – if this were a GOP campaign, heads would already be rolling, and nothing short of blaiming Tom DeLay and Karl Rove would be the response from Dems. I said that yesterday on the previous post.

    Secondly, yes, campaigns are stressful. Those 15 hr days doing crap work, being on the road, working under bad conditions, with a lot of jerks telling you what to do for low pay is definitely stressful. Combine that with the fact that he was working for a Dem and a crappy candidate all around, that must have really sucked. Still, burning HQ isn’t a great solution. I do feel for this Josh guy – that sucks when anyone, despite their political work or whatever, has problems like that. So, let’s just hope that he gets the help he needs, and just address this issue as a whole, rather than focussing on the inidvidual.

    Which leads to the political factor … saying that there isn’t more to this story is either naive or decieving. Plain and simple. The example about the Al Gore tapes is a good one – there was certainly more to that story that came out later. I won’t be surprised if nothing else comes out of this, but I don’t believe for a second that this is as simple as some Dems are making it to be. I don’t necessarily think it is a Primary Colors thing, but just isn’t as simple as it sounds.

    As far as Oxendine goes, how did he do anything wrong? Going to the media is SOP – the media puts the word out there that he is being sought as a person of interest. He didn’t even slightly mention the politics or even hint at the political factors. Moreover, why would John Oxendine be the one to take the lead if it was a political battle? If Oxendine’s comments were part of some kind of GOP strategy, then it would have been someone else other than him.

    Furthermore, the AJC has had inadequate coverage on this for a variety of reasons: 1) their coverage always sucks. 2) their coverage and knowledge of politics sucks even worse (unless it is s/t that could hurt the GOP). 3) their coverage of anything that would harm a Dem is off the charts horrible! And the reason they are always willing to cover the Governor is b/c 1) they know he is popular among educated and conservative people and those types of people tend to read the newspaper more; and, 2) they don’t want to miss it if he messes up on s/t, so they can blast him. If there is anything positive on Sonny, they just get that from the AP.

    More importantly than any of this … there’s a free bobblehead giveaway?!?

  11. atlantaman says:

    chrisishardcore you said:
    “I also think that if there is an important story that comes out the same day as a story about “Dog pulls off amazing feat

  12. bird says:

    I love it when the GOP plays the ‘victim’ of the media. The irony of it always gets me.

    On another note, I’m not completely ruling out anything darker here, but I know of two ongoing cases where exactly this sort of thing happened with no political implications. One was arson to get out of work and the other was massive sabotage because an employee was missing a deadline. These things are unfortunate, but they do happen.

  13. Mrs. Adam Kornstein says:

    What I find interesting about this story is the harsh comments from some other “D”‘s over at Blogfordemocracy.

    You all have been a lot kinder to this poor kid than some of his “peeps”..

  14. ugadog says:

    Now whether or not this story should have gotten more coverage than it actually did, that’s anybody’s guess. However, it seems like the biggest piece of evidence for whether or not it would have been treated differently had it been on the other end of the political spectrum is how it actually did unfold. Whenever the story first broke and it was assumed that someone else did it, it was on page B3 of the metro section. When it was found out that it was a Democrat who did it, it was on the front page of the metro section. Did you want it to make the national news?

  15. brit878 says:

    as another close friend of josh, i was surprised by the amount of coverage for the story. but then again, i’m biased. it is surreal to see someone you know on the television wearing handcuffs. i think it’s amazing how many stories i’ve read and how many clips i’ve seen on the news and how many times i’ve seen his mug shot, etc.

    someone up there pointed out that there are a lot of people who are under stress and don’t crack. true. but i also think it’s naive to just compare this case to other people who are under stress. josh is a regular ol’ guy. i have no doubt that he is as shocked as anyone else by all this.

    it was pointed out in the stories that he was remorseful and contrite. those were their words. it was a terrible choice, but i’m not going to even think for a second that i will ever understand what he must have felt like to get there.

    the story will stick around for a while. it may even come back up at some point down the road. that’s just the way it goes. i don’t know how it will affect taylor’s campaign. right now, all i care about is my friend.

  16. atlantaman says:

    You might care about your friend, but what he did was criminal. It’s a good thing he was just as inept at burning the building down as he was at completing deadlines.

    What I care about is the firefighters that risk their lives everyday due to people like your friend.

  17. Atlantaman, the vice president shot someone in the face and he didn’t even get questioned by the police until the next day. We now seem to agree that Cheney’s hunting accident was truly that: a terrible accident.

    How about we give Josh the same benefit of the doubt when it comes to jumping to conclusions until we know the whole story? What he did was terrible and it could have put people, property and firefighters at great risk (fortunately it didn’t though) but I don’t remember seeing this much handwringing over David Graves DUI’s and theoretically many more people are at great risk of death everytime someone drives drunk.

    As for Oxendine, I was merely pointing out that he is a headline whore. He is so desperate to get a quote on the news that he didn’t even bother to find out things like:

    Josh is 28, not 29.
    Josh is gay, so he wasn’t at his girlfriend’ house.

    That’s all I was pointing out. Headline whoring is by no means a Republican only disease, just look at Liane Levetan when she was DeKalb CEO. Do you remember Neal Bortz’s old quote: Where is the most dangerous place in Atlanta to be? Between Liane and a newscamera!

  18. atlantaman says:

    Unless you’re implying that Josh mistakenly brought a can of accelerant into the building, mistakenly poured it all over, and mistakenly dropped a match on it then the analogy to Cheney is ridiculous. We already know he’s admitting to doing it, so I don’t think we’re jumping to conclusions here.

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