Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Its Not About Ritchie

The STRIB has a very balanced editorial in today's paper:
Add the name Mark Ritchie to the long list of state and national public officials who have learned the hard way that trying to hide an error in judgment only magnifies the mistake.

If Minnesota's first-term DFL secretary of state had owned up when first asked about giving his campaign the names and addresses of people who participated in a series of civic engagement meetings his office sponsored, the matter likely would have blown over weeks ago.
From the beginning, I was disappointed in the SoS, and even agreed with the calls for resignation, as long as the same standards they were applying to him, were applied to Republicans as well. Of course, that would mean the resignation of the President, Vice President, and most all currently elected GOP officials, so it was a safe bet. In the end, Ritchie was exonerated on all the technical stuff. And this exoneration came from "Jim Nobles - the state’s legislative auditor, . . . known as a person of scrupulous integrity; his office is no partisan hacketeria.". His office found:
Ritchie did not violate any laws; the data is public and available to anyone.

Moreover, Nobles said, there was nothing illegal in the collection of the data, or the meeting at which it was obtained.
No, this isn't about Mark. I say isn't, cause it is not over. The game plan here is for the MNGOP and their mouthpiece at MDE to do everything in their power to pound and pummel the current Secretary of state. The editorial recognizes that:
here there's an opening to go after Ritchie, Republican officials have shown themselves excessively eager to seize it. Their overblown rhetoric, going so far as to call for Ritchie's resignation, calls their sense of proportion into question. Their zeal makes plausible DFL claims that Ritchie's real offense in GOP eyes is something else -- perhaps his vigorous defense of the opportunity to register to vote on Election Day.
If the Right had any character at all, they would choose a different tact, and show that they can be reasonable:
if, instead of pursuing legal action, Ritchie's critics would join him in a review of the statutes, to make them better match Minnesotans' expectation that elected officials separate campaigning from the performance of their official duties. Those who say Ritchie's conduct ought to be illegal can prove their sincerity by putting that notion into bill form for the 2008 Legislature and getting it into the statute books, so that it applies to GOP and DFL officials alike.
Oooooo, I see the problem now ""so that it applies to GOP and DFL officials alike."", that pesky fairness thing, they wouldn't want it to apply to them. Silly me!


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