Friday, November 30, 2007

"Dirtiest Campaign Money Can Buy"? No way. Check Out "Citizens Opposed to Politicians Who Pander to Perverts"

Two weeks ago, Mark Trachtenberg wrote in the Allston-Brighton TAB an opinion piece that referred to the anonymous campaign mailings in the 2007 Boston City Councilor-At-Large race -- two of which Councilor-elect John Connolly later admitted to sending out -- as the "dirtiest campaign money can buy."

Dirty? Sure. But the dirtiest? Not by a long shot.

Howie Carr dug some mud out of his brain describing worse mailings from local political history. But we don't have to rely on Carr's memory. There's plenty of other campaigns to look to.

Saugus had an anonymous mailing this year smearing incumbent Selectman Stephen Horlick who, like Councilor Stephen Murphy here in Boston, got re-elected anyway.

The Framingham area saw an ugly mailing in 2004:
The mailing, which asks, "Who's Working in Our Children's Schools?" and includes a photograph of a crying child, criticizes [Karen] Spilka for voting against a Republican-sponsored amendment to a municipal relief package approved by the House last year. The Senate did not adopt the plan and it did not appear in a compromise bill later approved...

"Vote NO on Karen Spilka. She won't protect our children at school," reads the postcard-sized mailing.
Her opponent, Republican Jim Coffey, denied responsibility for the mailing. Another Framingham election in 2004 continued the trend:
During the Democratic primary for the Seventh Middlesex District between Ginger Esty and write-in candidate and eventual winner Tom Sannicandro, the pro-same-sex marriage group MassEquality, sent mailings to residents that read, "Ginger Esty would divide our community."

Esty does not favor allowing same sex-marriage and Sannicandro supports it.

The mailing also pointed out that Esty as a selectman voted against a proclamation stating Framingham would stand "against bigotry, prejudice, intimidation, and hatred of any kind."
Oh, and that vote was taken out of context, as you can probably imagine. Demonstrating that there really is something funky in the water out west of Boston, Framingham resident Harold Wolfe put up a website skewering the opponent of a candidate he supported:
The website features [State Representative Deborah] Blumer's picture complete with glowing and blinking eyes.

Wolfe said the glowing eyes addition was inspired by a sci-fi character who is evil.
Littleton Town Meeting had its own anonymous attack mailing back in May, although not centered on an election campaign.

But the cream-of-the-crop is definitely Philadelphia politics, where one Councilman running for re-election was attacked for his position on raising the lease from $1 to $200,000 for Boy Scout use of a city building:
The "VOTER ALERT," printed on a yellow index card, reads: "Councilman Jack Kelly voted with the homosexual lobby to remove the Boy Scouts from their city rent-free headquarters. The Scouts can remain only if they agree with the homosexual agenda which would promote sodomy to our youth. Not too long ago this would have caused Jack Kelly to be tarred and feathered for contributing to the delinquency of minors. Today, all we can do is to retire him from City Council. Distributed by COPPP - Citizens Opposed to Politicians Who Pander to Perverts, P.O. Box 57040, Philadelphia, PA 19111. ANYONE BUT KELLY."
Now those words -- "promote sodomy to our youth" and "Citizens Opposed to Politicians Who Pander to Perverts" -- are real down-and-dirty politics, not the comparatively tame mudslinging by Connolly against Councilor Murphy for wanting a job promotion (to some other job).

The COPPP appears to be under suspicion under Pennsylvania law because it is an unregistered committee making expenditures advocating for the election or defeat of a particular candidate. Sound familiar? Oh, and that Councilman Kelly appears to have won the race, too, albeit by a very narrow margin.

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