November 3, 2012

What Comes Around Goes Around

Patrick Laverty

It's been interesting watching the RI Democratic Party Spokesman Bill Fischer bounce back and forth between arguments for his various clients. For months we've heard him talk about how Brendan Doherty won't talk about the issues and just wants to distract with senseless, meaningless things.

Then lately, Fischer tells us all about the alleged campaign finance violations that Gordon Fox's opponent, Mark Binder is engaged in. Binder is trying to talk about the issues and Fox's record as Speaker, but the Fox team just wants to talk about these commercials that are going out over the airwaves about the Speaker. At first, they weren't identifying who as behind the commercials. That part has been fixed. Then they complained about the lack of reporting these commercials on the financial reports. The Fox team kept reminding us that this kind of dirty politics is illegal and needs to stop.

Then today, I got a political mailer. What timing to get such a thing on Saturday before the election. Perfectly timed so there can be no response. The mailer has right on it a picture of Senator Beth Moura, Curt Schilling, the 38 Studios logo and the tag line: $105 Million Reasons Why Sen. Moura Has To Go. On the other side, it reads, "On Nov. 6th, send a message. No More Insider Deals. No More Moura."

Clearly, this mailer is intended to paint the blame for 38 Studios on Senator Moura. Well, I guess that would be fair if she voted for it. But she didn't. Why didn't she do more to stop it? Why wasn't she more outspoken to get the deal with the EDC killed? Couldn't she have done more? Very easy answer, no. Because she wasn't even a senator when that bill was voted on. Dan Connors sat in the Senate District 19 seat and voted for the bill. But yet, his vote is being used against Moura?

Why are these blatant lies allowed? Why can someone supporting Moura's opponent, Ryan Pearson, be allowed to do these things? I've seen Democrats howling about how Brendan Doherty has dragged his campaign into the gutter by telling the truth about David Cicilline and reminding people of who Cicilline is and what he's done. This mailer isn't even the truth. This is worse than a "Pants on Fire."

Why didn't the Democrats do anything about this? They can't claim to have known nothing about it, as when I did some searching to find out who the "Working Families Coalition" and their chairman Edward Johnson is, I found that they did similar things during the primary. I don't see where people like Ed Pacheco, Gordon Fox or Bill Fischer came out and denounced these actions. But yet when someone wants to tell the truth about their candidate, they get all worked up and start leveling charges.

By the way, I checked the Pearson campaign funding reports and I see no mention of Working Families Coalition reported, similar to what Fox is complaining about with Binder. No, there's no direct tie between the group and Pearson, but that's the case in the "Fox in the Henhouse" ads and Mark Binder.

It makes me wonder how many other campaigns are blatantly lying like this. Additionally, it's these types of lies that are really turning people off to politics. It's quite disgusting.

So Democrats, what say you? Are you going to show some leadership here and file a complaint with the Board of Elections against both the Working Families Coalition for an extremely misleading mailer and against Ryan Pearson for this ad? Or do you only do that when it's against you? Leaders can see past the partisan politics and act like adults. Or like Governor Christie.

ADDENDUM: Today (Sunday), Ryan Pearson released a statement indicating that he had no knowledge of the mailer before it was delivered. Additionally, he claims to have had no contact with the Working Families Coalition.

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The one sent to my district said the bill was "introduced by House Republicans". Yet another lie. The bill was introduced by Steven Costantino. Last I checked he was not a House Republican. When people are so dishonest one wonders how they would govern - except of course we already know since they have been running the state for 70+ years.

Posted by: Brian C. Newberry at November 4, 2012 7:04 AM

Oh, now we can flat out lie about a candidate??? Excellent!

So I've heard rumors that Beth Moura's opponent, Ryan Pearson, beats his wife, collects child porn, wrote a college paper arguing for the legalization of slavery and that, if elected, he will vote to quadruple Rhode Island's sales and income taxes.

Posted by: Monique at November 4, 2012 7:49 AM

I'm constantly amazed that candidates don't sue for flat-out malicious lies told about them. Just because you're running for office doesn't mean that people can all of a sudden legally tell lies about you to destroy your reputation. In fact, the damages would just be that much greater. I realize the burden for libel is more difficult to meet for public figures, but it's certainly possible with obviously malicious fabrications.

Posted by: Dan at November 4, 2012 8:51 AM

I am running for re-election is West Warwick and these mailers from the Working Families Coalition are ridiculous. My opponent is using these and creating his own and they are full of lies. I am hoping the voters see through the lies. I also would like to see one of the local news station pick up the story and expose the people behind this.

Posted by: Mark Bourget at November 4, 2012 1:03 PM

Brian Newburry: "we already know since they have been running the state for 70+ years."

Brian - don't you mean RUINING the state for 70+ years?

Posted by: JTR at November 4, 2012 4:02 PM

Let me play devil's advocate here. If yo u can find Working Families and get a straight answer out of them, they will say something like "we feel Beth Moura typifies the political attitude that results in 38 studios type situations". It doesn't matter whether or not that is remotely accurate, it's just very difficult to bar or control speech, especially political speech. It might be possible to take a calendar approach and bar last minute mailings, as opposed to the content of the mailing.

Posted by: observer at November 4, 2012 6:01 PM

Observer - There's always a "defense," but a reasonable person can sort out what is intentional deception and what is an honest mistake or mischaracterization. I think a lot of politicians could be successful if they sued for libel. Some of these cases aren't even even subject to interpretation, they are just blatant lies.

Posted by: Dan at November 4, 2012 6:43 PM

Observer, I like the intent but unfortunately neither really seems possible. I think in this case, enough care was given to avoid an easy libel case, unless implications are enough. Aside from libel, the First Amendment does protect a lot of this. I can't think of a way to stop either the message or the timing without violating the First Amendment, and Constitutional rights are more important.

Posted by: Patrick at November 4, 2012 8:59 PM

"Working Families Coalition"? What a load of crap. It's a union front group. Good bet that all the usual intimidation-tactic union thugs are involved, Crowley, et al.

Posted by: Dan at November 4, 2012 10:20 PM

Just wait--our keen reporters will soon let the apathetic public know the truth...

Posted by: Mike678 at November 5, 2012 8:17 AM

Dan and libel

I suspect politicians simply prefer to think the memories go away with the next news cycle. Except for "die hards" I expect they would be right. Libel suits would only keep it in the news. Plus, what else might come out. Truth might be stranger than fiction.

One lawsuit for murder against the FBI practically emptied their Boston office, exposing corruption undreamed of.

I have known too many "respected politicians" to believe that many of them could survive civil discovery.

Many politicians are like "first offenders", it is only the "first offense" where they have been caught.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at November 5, 2012 9:09 PM
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