Seldom do we get to see such blatant hypocrisy as was seen in the story on Nov. 23 about the two groups suing the Office of Political Practices. I received a mailer from an outfit called Western Tradition Partnership that attacked a legislative candidate with bogus innuendo and a doctored photo. That mailer was the worst case of negative campaigning that I have seen.
While I happen to agree with many of the issues they support, they have completely ruined any chance that I would ever support them in any way because of their despicable campaign methods. I don’t know where WTP Executive Director Donald Ferguson is from, but he is about as far from Western tradition as you can get.
WTP sends out misleading, abusive mailers the first of November and before the month is out says that Political Practices Commissioner Dennis Unsworth uses abusive tactics. WTP sends out mailers that rail against one particular candidate the day before the election and then try to say they are just educational and are not meant to influence the outcome of the election. If that were the case, why not wait until after the election to send this crap out, or send it out two months before the election. Does Mr. Ferguson really think we are that stupid?
WTP even asked the judge to forbid Commissioner Unsworth from distributing his decision, because it is causing the group “irreparable harm to its mission and reputation.” If this group ever had a reputation, they certainly took care of that with their slime campaign.
I can understand why donors don’t want their names associated with this group. But if you are going to support this type of negative campaigning, then I think you should be willing to stand up for your beliefs and face the public scorn and ridicule.
It is extremely sad that important issues that need to be discussed have been tarnished so badly by a group like WTP. It is important that Commissioner Unsworth continues to stand up for the people of Montana and enforce our campaign laws.
Leonard Wortman is a Jefferson County Commissioner. He lives in Boulder.