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News and quick-hit commentary from around mid-Michigan ... from the Morning Sun.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Scott Hummel is mad about those unkind phone calls before last week's primary down in Gratiot County. He sends along this message with the idea that it be published as a Letter to the Editor, or guest column or something or other. Instead ... here goes:

Friends, it is with a troubled heart that I write today. The last days of the Republican primary for the 93rd house district were flooded with mailers and phone calls that included rumor, deception, and lies for the sake of political gain. The reputations of candidates were maligned. Calls from an anonymous source were placed—some repeatedly, to irritate and misinform voters about several of the candidates' character and position on issues.
My congratulations go to Paul Opsommer for his victory in the primary and to those candidates who also ran their campaigns with integrity and honesty. You can stand straight and hold your head high knowing that your conduct and that of your campaigns are representative of the district you sought to serve.
We're not the first district in the state to experience such low political ethics, but hopefully we can be one of the last. Currently before the Michigan State House of Representatives is HB 5172 which would require automated telephone calls that relate to an election, a candidate, or a ballot question to clearly state the identity of the person paying for the communication. This would prevent current practice that make tracing such calls and those who pay for them practically impossible. I will certainly do all I can in my remaining few months to make this bill law in Michigan and protect the people of this district from unethical and in some cases illegal behavior.
The district lost something in the last week of the election and all of us have suffered for it. For that I grieve the most. Please know that as your State Representative I will always value your trust and seek to earn your confidence in all I do.

I hate to douse a good case of outrage, but an even bigger problem are smear campaigns undertaken by the political parties, or other interested folks, that allow one of the candidates to throw up their hands and say, "I'm not responsible ... I have no control over what these people do."

We've seen that over the last few cycles, most famously involving Sue Smith of Mt. Pleasant. Unless a specific campaign is behind a smear -- even suggesting that a Republican candidate in conservative Gratiot County has received the endorsement of a gay and lesbian advocacy group -- caller ID isn't going to do much good.


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