Update - 12:05 Eastern: In an email to CNN, Block confirmed the video was not a hoax. “I smoke - it’s a choice,” the chief of staff wrote. “Smoking is just Block being Block.” When asked if he had any regrets about the ad, Block replied, “none.”
Mark Block: Herman Cain chief of staff, Wisconsinite, Koch-sponsored conservative activist — and defiant, techno-loving smoker.
Block, of course, is the star of the new Cain web video, in which he revs up supporters — and then, like something out of a cop movie directed by Baz Luhrmann, takes a hit off a cigarette as techno music of a woman’s voice declaring “I Am America!” plays in the background, with the video then cutting to a close-up on a smiling Herman Cain.
Before coming on board with Cain, Block worked as state director for the Wisconsin division of Americans For Prosperity, the conservative activist group financed by Charles and David Koch.
According to his official bio at AFP, Block built up extensive political experience in the key swing state of Wisconsin:
He has served as an elected county board supervisor, consultant for numerous issue-based statewide campaigns, and campaign manager for such individuals as Wisconsin governor Tommy G. Thompson, former President George Bush, and Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices Janine Geske and Jon Wilcox.
Indeed, as a recent profile in the Daily Caller reveals, Block made history in 1974, when he became the first 18-year old elected to office in Wisconsin, with his election to the Winnebago County Board of Supervisors.
However, things later went wrong in his campaign management work:
Yet he was also banned from politics in Wisconsin for three years and forced to pay a $15,000 fine after being accused by the Wisconsin State Elections Board of violating election law in 1997 as campaign manager to state Supreme Court Justice Jon P. Wilcox.
The Wilcox campaign was accused of illegally coordinating activities with an outside group which mounted a get-out-the-vote effort. To this day, Block denies any wrongdoing.
The profile then says that when the case was settled, with Block paying the fine and being banned but without admitting guilt, for a while he was reduced to stocking shelves at Target.
But fear not. He made his way back into politics, working at AFP and now for Herman Cain. And nothing can stop him now — just look at his attitude as he smokes that cigarette!