Pre-Election Ethics Quiz: The Campaign Fortune Cookie

I have not authored the usual number of unethical campaign tactics indictments this time around. One reason is that their desperation while facing an almost certain GOP wipe-out has led Democratic Party candidates into far more questionable devices than the confident Republicans as the Blues have increasingly defaulted to race-baiting, Koch brothers attacks, scare-mongering on everything from guns to contraception, and the “war on women” chorus. Combine that with the popular integrity breach of  Democratic incumbants virtually pretending that they never heard of the Democratic President in the White House, and I was faced with giving more ammunition to those who accuse me of partisan bias. Looking at the poll projections, it appears that the worst offenders—Wendy Davis, Allison Grimes, Mark Udall, and Mary Landrieu among them—will get their just desserts from voters without additional alarms from me.

Speaking of desserts: this campaign tactic is worthy of note. A loyal Rhode Island reader inquires if I have any ethical problems with the campaign of Allen Fung, the Chinese-American GOP candidate in the closely contested Rhode Island governor’s race, delivering thousands of fortune cookies to Rhode Island Chinese restaurants that look like this when you open them

fortune-cookie-fung

So your Ethics Alarms Pre-Election Ethics Quiz is the question asked of me:

Is there anything unethical about this?

Continue reading

Time to Enforce the Hatch Act on Karl Rove

The Hatch Act is a 1939 law that prohibits the use of federal money to support political causes. It’s an important law that many presidential administrations have nicked, dinged and outright violated,  without enforcement or consequences. But a thorough report by an independent federal agency shows that the Bush White House routinely violated the Act by creating a “political boiler room” that coordinated Republican campaign activities nationwide.

The report by the Office of Special Counsel finds that the Bush administration’s Office of Political Affairs, overseen by Karl Rove, served  as a virtual extension of the Republican National Committee, developing a “target list” of Congressional races, organizing dozens of briefings for political appointees to press them to work for party candidates, and sending cabinet officials out to help these campaigns. This included helping coordinate fund-raising by Republican candidates and persuading Bush  political appointees to help with Republican voter-turnout efforts.The report was based on over 100,000 pages of documents and interviews with eighty Bush administration officials in a three year investigation. Continue reading