OUR VIEW: Super PACs and candidates

Friday , June 08, 2012 - 3:36 PM

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Editorial Board

The rise of Super PACs, independent entities that spend big dollars in campaign races, necessitates a need for candidates to hold these Super PACs responsible for not lying.

We understand that candidates have no say in what a super PAC entity does. It is legally independent of the candidate who benefits from a super PAC. However, we also know that there is a huge wink and a nod in regards to the separation between the organizations of super PACs and favored candidates. In any event, when a super PAC deliberately misleads or flat out lies when advertising in a campaign, there should be quick condemnation of the misleading ad by both candidates, not merely the injured candidate.

In fact, given the importance that integrity, civility and honesty should hold in a campaign, any candidate who benefits from a misleading super PAC and fails to condemn the ad, should share a moral responsibility and condemnation for the deceptive campaign practices. Remaining silent while an opposing candidate is unfairly smeared with well-funded lies is both cowardly and a sin of omission.

Both Sen. Orrin Hatch and his challenger in the June 26 primary, Dan Liljenquist, have benefited from noxious, out-of-state super PAC money. Neither of the candidates has criticized the independently funded slurs against their opponents. In fact, sadly they've welcomed the assistance.

A more recent example of a misleading independent-expenditure super PAC is in the U.S.. Congress special election in Arizona to fill the seat of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who was shot and badly wounded in January 2011. A super PAC, House Majority PAC, sympathetic to the Democratic opponent Ron Barber, quotes Republican opponent Jesse Kelly calling Giffords "a hero of nothing." While the super PAC does mention that Kelly's quote occurred in 2010, there is no other context to the quote. Had context been provided, viewers would know that Kelly, while campaigning against Giffords in 2010, was merely criticizing her votes in Congress, including her support of ObamaCare.

Context is not important to super PACs. They are primarily designed to smear and mislead. It's time for candidates who benefit from these smears and remain silent to be tainted by the mud.

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