'A paid staffer': Dr. Oz outed and criticized for using Black aide as campaign prop
Dr. Mehmet Oz, a Pennsylvania Senate Republican candidate, is at the center of a new controversy for using a Black campaign aide as part of a publicity stunt.
The photo circulating is said to have been taken at a “community discussion” held back in September. In the photo, Oz appears to be comforting a Black woman, identified Sheila Armstrong, who is billed as a supporter of his campaign. It was also portrayed this way in the initial report published by The Associated Press.
According to HuffPost, "Oz spoke with Sheila Armstrong, who had shared a photo identifying her as a campaign aide in June, and comforted her as she described the shooting deaths of her brother and nephew."
Although she initially seemed like just a member of the community, new developments have confirmed that she was, in fact, a paid member of Oz's campaign staff.
Per the news outlet: "Brendan McPhillips, the campaign manager for Oz’s Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, tweeted this week that the AP story didn’t note that Armstrong was 'a paid staffer.'" The Intercept also said, "that records with the Federal Election Commission back up his assertion that the Oz campaign paid her."
McPhillips also tweeted a photo of Armstrong's campaign business card to provide more context. Armstrong also admitted that she served as one of the organizers for the event and managed RSVPs for it. Back in September, she took to Instagram with a post promoting the event.
"As a woman that has personally experienced the loss of loved ones (brother & nephew) from the violence in our streets...," she wrote on Instagram. "It has ALWAYS been important to me to help find solutions to a problem. For this reason, I'm organizing a 'Safer Streets' Conversation with Dr. Oz for U. S. Senate because gun violence affects everyone REGARDLESS of their political party!"
According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records, Armstrong "was on the campaign’s payroll, earning more than $2,000 at the end of June."
The Associated Press has also released a statement confirming that its initial report has been updated. “As soon as AP learned of Armstrong’s campaign affiliation and confirmed it, we updated our story,” an AP spokesperson told The Intercept.
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