Sunday, December 06, 2009

Hypocrisy, Double Standards, and Guilt By Association: Jim Lane's Scottsdale

By now, most folks who care know that at Tuesday's meeting of the Scottsdale City Council, the Council voted 4-3 to withdraw from the Partner Council of the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce. The vote was taken allegedly in response to a ruling that the C of C violated campaign finance laws during last year's elections and would have to pay some fines.

This particular dust-up has been going on since last year's election cycle when the C of C sent out some mailers that looked to endorse the former mayor, Mary Manross, and three candidates for Council, Ron McCullagh, Betty Drake, and Suzanne Klapp. The mailers purported only to discuss the "pro-business" and "pro-Scottsdale" qualifications of the candidates. The C of C claimed that the mailers (and some related TV spots) weren't "political" because they didn't ask anyone to vote for the candidates.

Complaints were filed by some of the non-endorsed candidates, including eventual mayoral victor Jim Lane. Various legal opinions followed that disagreed with the C of C's position, including one in late November from a state administrative law judge.

During the process and since the latest ruling. there have both been calls for the City to withdraw any support it provides to the Chamber as well as sustained withering criticism of then-candidates Klapp and McCullagh for not resigning their positions in the C of C.

None of this should be much of a surprise, because as Greg at Espresso Pundit notes, when the C of C tried to influence the election, they should have made sure that their candidate won.

In politics, retribution is far more frequent than is forgiveness. Lane's vengeance for the Chamber's lack of support for him was fully expected.

Still, the payback theme of the meetings of this year's Council has overwhelmed almost everything else, including common sense, fairness, and ethical consistency.

During the meeting Tuesday night, Mayor Lane pontificated that the City should withdraw from the Chamber because he didn't think that the City should be associated with any organization that breaks the law, in this case, violations of campaign finance laws.

The money quote; the fact that the City and some members of the Council are involved with the C of C "implies that the City itself participated in this."

Hmmm...where could I find "hypocrisy" and "double standards" there, and perhaps an opportunity to apply a little "guilt by association" here?

The sarcastic cynic in me (which I *never* give free rein to...OK, almost never :) ) thinks that this is all merely retribution from Lane because the C of C didn't support him in last year's election and that his moral outrage is of the "faux and one-sided" variety.

However, it is possible that Lane truly respects organizations that follow the law and simply doesn't want the City, the Council, or any of its members associated with an organization that ever breaks laws.

As Mayor, he has to be concerned for the image of the Council and the City, and doesn't want even the appearance of impropriety to sully that image.

The months-long witch hunt against former City Manager John Little notwithstanding.

Which I could accept, except for the fact that the Mayor and at least five of the six members of the Council are Republicans (Lane freely admits that he is one, Borowsky is a member of the Arizona Federation of Republican Women, Klapp, Littlefield, and McCullagh are members of the AZGOP's State Committee representing LD8, and Tony Nelssen is considered to be a Republican's Republican. I'm not sure about Wayne Ecton's registration - based on the few conversationsI think he is an R, but I cannot find independent verification of that right at this moment.)

So, in light of the fact that during the same election cycle, the AZGOP accepted illegal contributions that were earmarked to fund some of the sleaziest ads in recent memory, for the sake of consistency, they've all resigned their positions within the Arizona Republican Party and barred any organs of the AZGOP from using City facilities, so as not to associate the City with illegal this case, violations of campaign finance laws.


OK, so I don't expect them to really resign from the GOP, nor do I think that they should, and unless they were directly involved with campaign contribution laundering scheme with Arpaio, Fox, Pullen, and the rest, it shouldn't even be a matter for discussion. As sleazy as the ads and those campaign violations were, they are the responsibility of the people involved, not all Republicans.

By the same token, unless Lane, his followers on the Council (Borowsky, Littlefield, and Nelssen), and his friends/advisers masquerading as outraged "independent" residents of Scottsdale (Whitmer, Fernandez, et. al.) can show that McCullagh and Klapp were directly involved in the C of C's ad campaign, they should give it a rest, lest the same tactics are applied to them.

I don't expect them to learn that lesson, and neither should any readers -

So far, the scheming, back-biting, and hypocrisy have worked for Lane et. al., and they have no reason to stop until their tactics cease to work.

Laurie Roberts of the Arizona Republic has a pro-Council, anti-C of C view here.


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