The headline is from House Speaker David Ralston, and unlike some in the commentating, blogging, media and political arsonist community, I believe him. Speaker Ralston values and believes in the sincerity, honesty and basic decency of the members of the House of of Representatives, and wants Georgians to be able to trust the people we elect. He has demonstrated this worldview with his recent ethics reform proposal that champions disclosure, eliminates gifts, and stems from an apparent belief that elected people are, for the most part, fundamentally honest. Wouldn’t it be nice to think so.
Political consultant cum candidate Brian Laurens, in the special election for State House District 21, has sent a last-minute mail piece that hits Speaker Ralston’s noble, publicly-stated idealism straight in the teeth with an iron pipe. Laurens has attempted to deceive voters in the 21st House district into believing that he has been endorsed by Georgia Conservatives in Action. See for yourself:
There’s no question that the “Voter Guide,” plastered with the logo and URL of Georgia Conservatives in Action, indicates that Brian Laurens is the favored candidate of that group, and implies that Georgia Conservatives in Action may be responsible for printing and mailing the piece. Except they haven’t. GCIA, according to Pat Tippett, (who runs the group along with Kay Godwin) “We did not endorse. He sent that out on his own.” GCIA has also asked for a retraction, although retracting a mail piece 3 days before an election would be unprecedented in the history of voting. (Note: we are not the only outlet aware of this. Todd Rehm at GA Pundit has his own take on this issue, with more history, here. Peach Pundit responded after verifying the deception with the folks at GCIA.)
If you get yourself elected using deception, it is only logical to assume you will govern using deception. So the noble principle on which the House ethics reform proposal is based is about to be tested. Will an obviously dishonest man be elected by the people who show up to vote in an off-cycle Special Election on Tuesday? Do we trust the voters to choose honesty over dishonesty? Would the proposed ethics reform force a candidate to become someone who Georgians could trust? And how should a speaker, or a caucus, or an elected group of Republicans treat a candidate who trades on THEIR names with such obvious contempt, should he successfully lie his way into office?