Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Assassination; clown college day three

Some sad news tonight, as the chairman of the Arkansas Democrats, Bill Gwatney was assassinated in his own office in Little Rock. The apparent gunman was later killed by police in a shootout. Obviously, my condolences to the family of the victim of this outrageous attack on the democratic (small-d) process. Needless to say, though, both parties officially are condemning this attack and rightly so.

On to today's review of the House Ethics hearings on "in and out." Somewhat briefer than before. Once again, HT to Kady O'Malley for her copious live blog notes.

Today was the turn of the ad agences that handled the Conservative account. Of note is that there was never any direct contact between local candidates and the agencies, it was all done via the party's head office. This adds further to the suspect practice of relabelling ads authorized by the national agent with ones signed off on by the local agents. (It'd be so much easier if we adopted the US practice where the candidate himself or herself says, "I'm Blank, and I approve this message." Then there would be no doubt.)

Also, we learn that some candidates were offered a chance to take part in "in and out" as far back as the prior campaign in 2004. Again, the argument being made by the Cons is that there was unused room by local campaigns and the national party decided to use what was left. But that is not the position Elections Canada has on the practice. The nominee for Prime Minister has a certain limit for the national campaign -- $18 million or so -- but if local candidates haven't spent to the max, tough luck. Use it, or lose it.

Also I note that some candidates were confused by the in and out. They thought they were getting something for the money flowing in and out -- buttons, signs, pamphlets, etc. Squat.

The longer this goes, the more one has to wonder whether the Cons may have actually found a loophole and gotten away with it. But it's worth remembering, this is the Ethics Committee that is considering the issue, not the Justice Committee. Just because something may wind up being barely legal doesn't mean it's ethical.

Needless to say, another very tense day at the committee. If this is what political discourse has degenerated to in Canada, where no one has an open mind, we're headed for truly troubled times if they are not already here.

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Anonymous said...

Actually the longer this goes on, the more I am convinced that they knew they were breaking the law, not that they found some nifty loophole to exploit.

I'm not quite sure what you've seen in the past few days that would convince you the opposite.

BlastFurnace said...

Joseph, I believe in giving everyone the benefit of the doubt and a chance to demonstrate their case. It's not up to the acccused to prove their innocence, it's up to the accuser to prove guilt. I agree it continues to look very bad for the Cons, at least on the civil side (the disputed monies).

Whether it amounts to criminal intent to rig an election is still iffy. However, I definitely can't ignore accusations of witness tampering or attempting to stop the service of summons. Watergate, in part a campaign finance fraud, got to be where it did because of the coverup and not the underlying crime.