I have hesitated to comment on the Lt. Governor’s race since so few people seem to be able to discuss it without having a conniption fit. But I’d like to add a different perspective to some of the questions and concerns that many people have about Ralph Reed.
For obvious reasons, Ralph has been vilified by many in the mainstream media and by most on the left as a budding theocrat. (Of course any Christian who doesn’t vote Democrat is labeled a theocrat these days.) Even quite a few on the right have become quite critical of Ralph in recent years. Ralph has also found himself embroiled in the Jack Abramoff scandal, particularly as it relates to his lobbying on behalf of gambling interests. Unfortunately, Ralph has not learned the great lesson that my friend, former Congressman Pat Swindall, learned.
Pat Swindall was an up-and-coming leader in the Republican party in the late ’80s. He was quite conservative and I was privileged to have not only worked on Pat’s campaigns but to have become friends with him. During his second term as Congressman in the 4th District, Pat became caught in a Federal sting operation involving drug money that appeared to be laundered through a house purchase of his. Pat was prosecuted by another former Congressman, Bob Barr, and ended up being found guilty of perjury and served a year in prison. I actually sat through most of the trial and to this day do not feel that Pat was guilty of perjury. However, Pat was guilty of some very poor decisionmaking and that was enough in my mind to disqualify him as a Congressman. Over the years, Pat has been very forthright about the mistakes he made. Pat’s willingness to be honest about his mistakes garnered him tremendous respect.
The parallels between Pat and Ralph are uncanny. Both are baby-faced conservative evangelical politicians from Georgia. I can’t help thinking of Pat as Ralph Reed continues to be attacked because of his relationship with Jack Abramoff. I have no idea if Ralph is guilty of breaking any laws. I suspect that he is not. But it certainly appears that Ralph is guilty of making some poor decisions.
I first met Ralph over 15 years ago and have always thought him to be a good man. My respect for Ralph would grow even greater if he would be more forthright about his questionable business dealings over the past few years. And I suspect others would feel the same.