Allison Grimes Ethics: Do Parties, Candidates And Citizens Really Think Lying Is A Legitimate Campaign Strategy?

Alison Lundergan Grimes

This is hard for me. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky)is among my least favorite U.S. Senators, and conservative hit man James O’Keefe defines unethical journalism. But O’Keefe’s sneaky tactics, the smug candor of McConnell opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes’ staff and supporters, and her own blatantly misleading statements make it obvious that she and the Kentucky Democrats think that it is acceptable to lie outright about a crucial policy issue to win an election. It isn’t. Any candidate who thinks that way is unqualified for office. I’d love to see McConnell lose to an ethical candidate on his merits. or lack of them. Grimes, however, is a liar, and apparently her staff and supporters are fine with that.

O’Keefe-produced videos show five employees of the Grimes campaign, local Democratic Party affiliates and a key supporter opining that Grimes is faking her support for the coal industry out of political expediency, and will default to the national party’s anti-coal stance the second she hits Washington. Continue reading

James O’Keefe Gets What He Deserves…Just Like ACORN

That will be $100,000, please,

That will be $100,000, please,

James O’Keefe is a darling of the right who has executed, with varying levels of success, deceptive, unethical and sometimes illegal vigilante ‘stings’ (using hidden cameras) to prove various conservative targets like NPR and Planned Parenthood are secretly as bad as the right thinks they are. Everything about this is wrong, of course, beginning with his methods, which would be unethical journalism if he were a journalist (rather than a partisan hit man), and ending with his targets, which, if O’Keefe had integrity, would include both right and left. That wouldn’t be good for business, though.

O’Keefe’s biggest hit was on ACORN, the progressive, many-armed community-organizing non-profit that was operating on considerable taxpayer largesse. In 2009, O’Keefe and a female colleague dressed as a young prostitute secretly videotaped themselves seeking help from several ACORN offices, including those in Brooklyn, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., San Diego ( actually National City), and San Bernardino. O’Keefe spun various versions of a tale about a cruel pimp importing underage girls to stock his inventory, and and O’Keefe’s  plan to house them in secret and safety, but the sham’s goal always was to gull ACORN employees into giving advice regarding how to hide  illegal activities and how to get financial assistance for the prostitutes.  In San Bernardino, an ACORN employee told O’Keefe and the woman that the girls could classify their underage brothel as a “group home” to avoid detection, or maybe they should open a massage parlor. The Brooklyn office gave advice to the “prostitute” about how to hide her money, including opening multiple bank accounts.  D.C.’s  ACORN staffer provided advice on how to file tax returns without revealing her true trade. The Baltimore ACORN employee opined, “Well then, you know what, you can always claim them as dependents” and suggested, “You are gonna use three of them; they are gonna be under 16, so you is eligible to get child tax credit and additional child tax credit.” When O’Keefe asked, as the helpful friend of the girls,”What if they are going to be making money because they are performing tricks too?”,  the ACORN employee replied, “But if they making money and they are underage, then you shouldn’t be letting anybody know anyway.”

In National City, near San Diego, however, O’Keefe’s luck ran out.  Continue reading

Cognitive Dissonance, Corruption, and Patrick Moran

This video creates a major cognitive dissonance problem for me.

James O’Keefe, of ACORN take-down infamy, who engages in unethical journalistic practices to catch conservative foes in incriminating or otherwise damning statements, once again succeeded in exposing serious corruption, this time in the Virginia Democratic Party and more specifically on the staff of Northern Virginia Congressman Jim Moran. O’Keefe and his “Project Veritas” are the epitome of “the ends justify the means” philosophy of political warfare, and they are neither trustworthy nor admirable. Nonetheless, the video his dishonest methods produced provides important information to the public, and its message should not be ignored or minimized because it is the product of lies and a hidden camera.

Jim Moran is my Congressman, and has been for decades. There is no question that Moran is untrustworthy; there is substantial evidence that he is corrupt and has the values of a thug. We can add to this evidence that fact that his son Patrick, as the O’Keefe video shows, was happy to volunteer information to a starnger he thought was an aspiring voter fraud conspirator just how to cast Democratic votes for a hundred or so Virginians who weren’t going to visit the voting booth. Patrick Moran was the Congressman’s campaign field director at the time; he is also the nephew of Jim’s brother, who heads the Virginia Democratic Party. Patrick has since resigned, saying, naturally, that he made “a mistake.” In his exit statement to the media, Moran said:

“In reference to the ‘O’Keefe’ video, at no point have I, or will I ever endorse any sort of illegal or unethical behavior. At no point did I take this person seriously. He struck me as being unstable and joking, and for only that reason did I humor him. In hindsight, I should have immediately walked away, making it clear that there is no place in the electoral process for even the suggestion of illegal behavior: joking or not. In regards to my position on the campaign, I have stepped down because I do not want to be a distraction during this year’s critical election.”

Watching the video, his characterization of the incident is risible, but you can decide for yourself. In my view, Moran endorses illegal and unethical behavior by having the conversation, and not immediately responding to the initial inquiry by saying, “Neither this campaign, nor this party, tolerates what you are suggesting, which is an illegal attempt to subvert the Democratic process. What’s your name? I’m calling the police right now.” Continue reading

James O’Keefe—Still Faking, Still Recording, Still Unethical

This is all your fault, Allen Funt!

The latest James O’Keefe Candid Camera stunt is supposed to show corruption in the Medicaid system. As in his earlier video hit-jobs on ACORN and NPR, O’Keefe’s colorful crew of community theater rejects pose as outrageous and unsavory stereotypes—this time, drug-smuggling Russians with the worst accents since “Rocky and Bullwinkle,” who are pimping out their “sisters” for sex. The O’Keefe Players manage to find a jolly, badly-trained, none-too-swift Ohio Medicaid worker who giggles away their confessions of wanting to defraud Medicaid and dealing illegal drugs. The video of the dumb encounter—dumb charade, dumber government employee—has been posted on YouTube. More of the same, presumably, is on the way.

If you’re as bored with this as I am, please tell O’Keefe to stop. Of course his act is as unethical as his “Russians'” accents are embarrassing: Continue reading

One More Reason To Defund NPR, or “Boy, Did I Ever Go Into The Wrong Profession!”

The primary reason to end funding for NPR and PBS is that the government shouldn’t be funding competitors of private broadcasting organizations.

The second reason is that anything public broadcasting does that is sufficiently popular and valuable  (“Sesame Street,” “The Prairie Home Companion,” “Car Talk,’ et al.) will be picked up by commercial stations, and those programs that are not should not be underwritten by taxpayer dollars.

The third: NPR’s audience is narrow and affluent, and doesn’t require a public subsidy, particularly when cutting down the budget deficit is a national priority.

Finally, NPR can’t be trusted with public funds. It claims to be objective, but isn’t; it is mismanaged, and isn’t appropriately frugal with taxpayer funds.

This comes under the final category. The salaries of the top NPR talent do not reflect restraint in expending precious resources.  Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Find The Tell-Tale Mistake!

Unfortunately, James O'Keefe is no Nellie Bly

Kansas City Star reporter Mary Sanchez has posted an excellent column entitled “James O’Keefe and the Ethical Bankruptcy of ‘Gotcha’ Journalism.” Outside of an unfortunate final “Let’s see some genuine evidence that NPR’s coverage is biased” conclusion (you mean, other than its choice of stories, its lack of ideological balance, Nina Totenberg, its treatment of Juan Williams, and its institutionalized positions on issues like Palestine, gun control, abortion,  and illegal immigration?), she makes a strong case. But her piece is marred by a tell-tale gaffe that makes me doubt her own ethical orientation.

Your challenge in today’s Ethics Quiz: Find it! It occurs in this section: Continue reading

Why NPR’s Wrongs Don’t Make James O’Keefe Right

James O'Keefe, Ethics Corrupter

And the NPR Ethics Train Wreck continues

Between union hysteria in Wisconsin, carnage in Libya, and tsunamis, the fact that James O’Keefe’s fake Muslim billionaire act exposed more NPR integrity issues was drowned out by shouting, gun shots and water. In fact, the second victim of O’Keefe’s sting may have taught us more about NPR than the first.

In the surreptitious audiotape of  NPR’s continued encounters with the fake potential big bucks donor, NPR’s director of institutional giving, Betsy Liley, is heard advising the supposedly wealthy Muslim donor how the network could help “shield” his group from a government audit if it accepted the $5 million he was offering. It seems pretty clear from the tape that this was not what the sting was set up to prove: what the “Muslim donor” really wants is to get a promise from NPR that it will slant the news content the his way if the gift is big enough. Liley stood her ground on this core journalistic principle admirably—so much for the claim that George Soros bought NPR’s advocacy with his recent gift—but fell into another trap of her own making.

NPR spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm said in a statement that Liley’s comments on the tape “regarding the possibility of making an anonymous gift that would remain invisible to tax authorities is factually inaccurate and not reflective of NPR’s gift practices. All donations—anonymous and named—are fully reported to the IRS. NPR complies with all financial, tax, and disclosure regulations.” That’s undoubtedly correct; Liley was not merely ethically wrong but also literally wrong, for what she was suggesting almost certainly couldn’t happen. However, the fact that she would say such a thing believing it could happen, or think it was acceptable if it did happen, or try to acquire a large donation by persuading a donor to believe it could happen, all point to the one conclusion: NPR’s culture is ethically compromised, and the organization’s leadership has failed to meet its obligations to create an ethical culture  there. The sting is more disturbing than the earlier one that caught an outgoing NPR executive taking extreme partisan positions that belied NPR’s position that it is objective and unbiased. The comments of Ron Schiller just confirmed what many, including me, thought was already apparent in the tone of NPR’s work. I had also always assumed, however, that the place was professionally and ethically run (excepting the tendency to fire employees for expressing politically incorrect opinions on Fox News).

So this settles it, right? O’Keefe is a hero?

No, he’s not. James O’Keefe, in fact, is an ethics corrupter, an individual who weakens the public’s ethics by encouraging it to accept his dubious values. Continue reading

The NPR Ethics Train Wreck

Ethics train wreck scholars take note: when an organization’s image and existence is based on multiple lies, an ETW is inevitable.

Oh NO! It's another Ethics Train Wreck!

National Public Radio is now in the middle of a massive, six-months long ethics train wreck that began with the hypocritical firing of Juan Williams on a trumped-up ethics violation. The disaster exposes the culture of dishonesty and entitlement at the heart of NPR, and by extension, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. To the extent that their supporters blame anyone else, it is evidence of denial. This is a train wreck, however, and the ethics violators drawn into the wreckage are many: Continue reading

Planned Parenthood Gets The ACORN Treatment

Taking its inspiration from James O’Keefe’s infamous ACORN stunt, and anti-abortion group called Live Action videotaped actors as they asked Planned Parenthood staff at a New Jersey clinic for advice while disguised as a pimp and one of his prostitutes. Sure enough, just like in the incident that helped destroy ACORN, the eager-to-please Planned Parenthood staff member cooperated, advising the couple how to get abortions and other services for the “pimp’s” prostitutes, some of them described as illegal immigrants and girls as young as 14.

The episode raises several ethical issues: Continue reading