Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sense of Decency?

Tim Nelson is the Democratic candidate for canny attorney in Maricopa County, Arizona. The incumbent, Andrew Thomas, a Republican, denied any involvement in a recent attack ad that went after Nelson:

The Nelson ad opens with images of children riding tricycles and eating dinner at a family table.
"They deserve a safe neighborhood, a secure home," a woman's voice says. "They deserve the innocence of childhood and all of its wonder. And they deserve to be protected."
Then there's a drum roll and a frowning photo of Tim Nelson flashes on screen.
"But can they count on liberal ACLU lawyer Tim Nelson?" the woman continues. "He took money from a child pornographer and from lawyers who defend child murderers. Liberal Tim Nelson isn't just wrong. He's dangerous."

So I guess the lesson is that if you’re a criminal defense lawyer be careful about the unintended consequences of contributing to political campaign. While you may be trying to help, imagine if you later see an ad stating that the candidate you support “ took money from a lawyer who defends (insert something one of your clients was accused of.)” [Don't worry Scott Kleeb, this isn't a long-winded attempt to get out of that promised contribution! If you want my money, I'll still give it to you!]

Before I met Steve Achelpohl, an Omaha criminal defense attorney and current chair of the Democratic Party, I used to feel sorry for him when I saw him interviewed on TV. Not only did he have the difficult task of speaking for the minority party in a very red state, his opponent would inevitably remind the audience that Steve was one of those, you know, “criminal defense lawyers.” While you expect such things in politics (Obama seems to have a good trial lawyer’s ability to, jiu jitsu like, turn such attacks to his own advantage) this ad sinks to a new low.

So where did the ad come from? The Thomas campaign denied any involvement. The article states that “[the ad] was produced by an independent organization with which Thomas' campaign could not legally collaborate.

But who paid for it? According to the article:

The Republican Party paid for one airing of the commercial on Channel 5, said Edward Munson Jr., the station's vice president and general manager.

I don't mean to pick on Republican county attorneys, only to call BS on this ad and this tactic which targets not only criminal Defense lawyers but the candidates they support. I don't think this tactic is a "Republican" tactic, only a dirty one. If the parties were reversed, I'd say the same thing.

So what do you do about it? The ad concerned the contribution of $390 from a criminal defense lawyer to Nelson's campaign. Nelson later gave the money to the victim's rights organization, but the ad aired anyway.

So Nelson lost the money and still paid the price. But what if, whenever we see such a deplorable tactic, we resolve to contribute to its target, no matter which party we are contributing to?

If you're interested, the link to Tim Nelson's campaign is here.


Mark Bennett said...

Why would I give money to Mr. Nelson if he's going to turn around and give it to a "victim's rights organization"?

T said...

I'm sure that Tim Nelson's campaign is more than happy to accept donations from any upstanding American citizen. Personally, I wouldn't use this as a reason to not donate to him. On the contrary, I'd be more likely to donate to a candidate who puts what he think is right above himself. If ALL Nelson cared about was winning, rather than doing the right thing, he would have kept the money and not donated to a victim's rights organization.

Mark Bennett said...

T, You think he gave to the "victim's rights organization" because he thought that was the best and highest use of the money, rather than because he was getting political heat for taking it?

BTW, David, do you use voice-recognition software? You have Mr. Nelson running for "canny" attorney.

Anonymous said...

Mark, yeah, I know what you mean about the way they caved into pressure and gave the money to a victim rights' organization rather than confronting the issue head on. Frustrating. It reminds me of MacCarthy's advice to "punish the puppy" every time it goes in the house. I think Obama would have turned this around on them and revealed the issue rather than lamely allowing the other side to frame the issue.

I agree with T, however, that this might not be a "dealbreaker" on whether to donate as the stunts of his opponent show that the alternative to this not very bold Democrat is a Karl Rove school Republican, a much scarier proposition. It reminds me of Obama's position on tort reform: He brought it up in the debate as an example of when he challenged his own party (which worried me) but McCain's making it one of the centerpieces of his platform is much more worrisome to me. You have to take the bitter with the better sometimes I guess.

Mark, good observation on the voice recog. software I bought Dictate last week and love it. Normally it's accurate but I'd likely been "hanging out with Samuel Adams" that night so my speech may have been a little different than the profile it made.

Thanks for the comments.

Dave Tarrell