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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ethical Decision Making

I have followed this story, like most folks, in the pages of the Star Tribune and the blog Minnesota Democrats Exposed. MDE first broke the story last week.

"Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., accused Democratic challenger Coleen Rowley Wednesday of using a "double-agent" to attempt to make an illegal campaign contribution and infiltrate his reelection campaign."

Much has been said about the actions of both campaigns in this incident. The Congressman's detractors complain about the timing of the allegations. The illegal campaign contribution was apparently made back in February - why did the Kline camp not make their complaint until August? According to a letter sent out by the campaign, they were going to let it slide but when Ms. Rowley's supporters turned nasty (in letters to the editor and calls to local talk radio) they changed their minds. I suppose that could be the case, but...

I would like to focus on two things. First is this - the volunteer in question, David Bailey, said that his actions were purely innocent. I highly doubt that. The fact that any citizen that is interested in signing up for campaign literature can do so online. Any citizen that wants to get on the campaign mailing lists can do so online. In either case - NO CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION IS NECESSARY! I am on several campaign mailing lists and I have yet to contribute to any of them. Then there is the fact that he went to the Congressman's local office first (as opposed to the campaign office). There are strict federal laws against campaign business being done in an elected officials office - and for good reason! Since Mr. Bailey's blatent attempt to trap an unwitting staffer into commiting a federal crime, the Rowley campaign has promoted him to a paid staff position. Something certainly seems fishy here.

Second is this:

"Our campaign has never sent anyone in there to do anything like that," said Rowley campaign manager Terry Rogers. "

I don't doubt this for a second. I imagine that Mr. Rogers is savvy enough to know that these kinds of actions are suicide for a campaign. However, the culture that has flourished within the Rowley campaign has been less than honorable. As I have recounted in other posts Ms. Rowley and her campaign has made it a campaign staple to distort and tell outright lies about Congressman Kline. Their clumsy attempts at distortion are easily disproven by tools such as Project Vote Smart - something that the campaign really should be looking at from time to time. Then there is the infamous "photo-shopping" incident, something that (again) is blamed on an uncontrolable volunteer. Obviously the volunteers believe that these actions are condoned, maybe even encouraged, by the campaign otherwise they would not do it.

For someone who has made the phrase "ethical decision making" a staple of her campaign, the Rowley campaign has been rife with less than ethical decisions. That is the thing that saddens me most. I love a good, well fought campaign and the Rowley camp has run neither. It seems to be the norm, right now, for Democratic candidates...


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