by Kevin Allman
EDIT, 07/30/09, 11 AM - Walsh has emailed Gambit to point out that Talking Points Memo has amended its original story, at his request, to omit the sentence "Brian Welsh's story isn't quite adding up." The revised version of the story can be found here, and Welsh has agreed to a phone interview later today to discuss the matter.
Talking Points Memo tonight reports that the car belonging to Brian Welsh, aide to putative/possible Senate candidate Stormy Daniels, did not "explode," as had been reported earlier, but was simply a car fire:
Brian Welsh's story isn't quite adding up. He keeps describing the incident as an "explosion" that lifted the car's roof five stories in the air -- which differs from what the New Orleans Fire Department has told us.
"It was a fire. The car didn't explode," said Public Information Officer Jonathan Pajeaud. An arson investigation is underway and foul play hasn't been ruled out. But, Pajeaud said, Welsh told firefighters he'd recently gotten electrical work done on his 1996 Audi, and investigators are also looking into that as a possible cause.
Welsh told a local TV news station that police told him they'd never seen anything like it.
But, Pajeaud said, "Car fires here are very common."
He added that investigators, on average, have a preliminary report in about two weeks. Pajeaud said that, for now, the investigation is being handled solely by the fire department and not by police. The police department has not responded to our questions.
(Gambit also tried to get a copy of the police report earlier, without success. We have a request in with the NOPD.)
Welsh responded to TPM:
Welsh just called us back and said that, while the electrical work -- a replaced fuse -- was his first thought as to the cause, the surveillance tapes convinced him otherwise.
We also asked him why, if he didn't want to say that it was a political opponent who caused the fire, he posted the videos on YouTube in the first place?
"If somebody is (trying to send a message) then I believe the most important thing I can do is to make sure people saw that," Welsh said. "If anybody was trying to do that, they would think twice about doing something in the future. You can't be quiet about something and wait for it to happen in the future."
This hasn't kept Welsh and "Team Stormy" from trying to capitalize on the incident, with links to the surveillance footage of the fire posted on YouTube and this statement on Twitter stating the car had been "tampered with" and "blown up":
None of this seems to have put a crimp in Ms. Daniels' busy schedule; since the arrest, she's completed principal photography on her latest opus, Sex, Lies and Spies, and is scheduled to begin a new film tomorrow.
As for her plans to challenge Sen. David Vitter in the 2010 Senate election, Daniels is still officially undecided. Too bad the grainy surveillance footage of the car-go-boom isn't of high enough quality to appear in Sex, Lies and Spies.