Saturday, October 16, 2004

 

Ohio media shamed by South Dakota

Is it possible that a newspaper in South Dakota cares more about the story of controversial Republican campaign workers being sent into exile here than Ohio rags? It seems so.

Once again, we have to look to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader to update us on the story. The developments include:
- 75 absentee ballot applications handled by the group were never turned in
- The chairman and executive director of the South Dakota Federation of College Republicans have resigned in response to the absentee-ballot flap
- The group shuffled off to Ohio is said to be working for the Ohio Republican Party, not the Ohio Bush-Cheney campaign, and they will not serve as "supervisors" but instead will be coodinators for our voter turnout in Cuyahoga County. "They work the phone banks, recruit and organize volunteer activities."

Obviously, the last point is nothing but pure spin, which they should be called on - assuming some Ohio reporter had the balls. Really, does the title of supervisor versus coordinator mean a thing? Likewise, what material difference does it make if they work for the ORP or BC04. The fact is that they have brought in this group of campaign hacks were either fired or forced to resign - with no questions asked and with the investigation still unfolding.

That leads to the next point. There is something more going on here if we have people being fired and resigning. Claims of "zero tolerance policies" aside, if the situation in South Dakota indeed were, as the Republicans there try to paint it, only small procedural errors by some college kids that required "a simple fix," than the firings and resignations are a major overreaction. On the other hand, if what's been reported on so far is only the beginning of a potentially much larger problem, then the firings and resignations are appropriate.

Finally, the whole situation with using these operatives in Ohio raises even more questions. It's not like the ORP or the SDRP or the BC04 are really separate entities. Legally yes, but if the SDRP was really serious, wouldn't Larry Russell, Nathan Mertz and Todd Schlekeway be on a "do not hire" list. Firing them in one state just can't be reconciled with hiring them in another. One thing that moving them to Ohio does do is that it makes it harder for them to be interviewed by the Argus Leader reporting team (since they don't have to worry about anyone in Ohio tracking them down.

This has all the markings of a story thats only going to get worse for the Republicans as more is known. Too bad none of the big papers in Ohio appears to care.

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