Monday, November 5, 2007

Mayoral Candidate Whitney Violates Ethics Pledge

by Norma Fox

Sadly it appears Mayoral candidate Whitney has violated our Election Ethics code and the candidate’s Pledge that he so heartily endorsed.

The Ethics Pledge requires candidates to immediately and PUBLICLY repudiate in the media any support they receive from independent groups who use tactics that violate the ethical standards of the code. When the sleazy attack ads came out last Friday, I checked the papers for the last three days hoping to see his repudiation. Sadly, he has disappointed me.

Starting last Friday morning, a couple of independent PACs have produced several dishonorable attack ads smearing his opponent Elizabeth Patterson, and praising Whitney.

Our Ethics Ordinance that the Council passed last Spring with his hearty approval (Chap. 1.36, Title 1), and the Fair Campaign Practices Pledge that Whitney proudly endorsed and signed, requires them to:

” …immediately and PUBLICLY repudiate in the media any support deriving from any individual or group which resorts, on behalf of my candidacy or in opposition to that of my opponent, to the methods and tactics which violate this code.”

Whitney could have published a repudiation on Saturday in the Vallejo Times Herald, and on Sunday in the Benicia Herald. He has not done so, even as of today, Monday.

Instead he buried a disclaimer message in a message board on which, let’s face it, few Benicians ever read. Even if they go to and search the articles and links, they won't see his disclaimer message. They'll only find it if they happen to browse the message board. A DISCLAIMER IN A HIDDEN MESSAGE BOARD IS NOT PUBLIC.

To make matters worse, on Sunday he violated another section of the Ethics Pledge which says,
”I shall not use character defamation…or scurrilous attacks on any candidate.”

He was quoted in an article in the Sunday Contra Costa Times, saying that Patterson “invites the criticism” from the attack ads because of her “ridiculous pandering drivel.” Oh my dear. Character defamation? Scurrilous attacks?

It’s really ironic. If he had refrained from using such language about his opponent, and had quickly printed a public disclaimer in the newspaper to repudiate the sleazy attack ads from the PACs , I think he would have enhanced and confirmed his image as a man of integrity and honor, and perhaps even earned a few more votes. Instead, by attacking her in that manner, and by hiding his disclaimer, he has made a mockery of the Ethics Pledge that he signed, and unfortunately tarnished his image and undermined trust.

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