November 7, 2005
Clean Campaign Pledge
During this darkened age, it is essential that one be politically positive. It is also imperative that one shed the irritable coat of modern politics in favor of an affirmative fiber, which has made America beautiful.
As both founder and president of Republicans & Democrats for Positive & Issue Oriented Politics, I am committed to maintaining an informative political process. Thus, I am contacting you and encouraging you to sign our clean campaign pledge, which is included below. If you have any questions, please contact me at either 1-330-204-5331. Thank you and please aid us in the cleansing of political rhetoric.
President & Founder
Clean Campaign Pledge
By attaching myself to both this organization and document, I vow to abide by an exemplary standard of conduct. During this campaign, I also promise to confine my criticism to my opponent's records. For I feel that personal attacks are unworthy, undignified, and unbecoming of myself.
With this pledge, I solemnly declare that I will refrain from inciting, inflammatory, or misleading statements. In avoiding these practices, I hope to serve as an example for both my state and this great nation.
November 7, 2005
I appreciate what your organization is trying to do, but as a contract, your pledge is so full of ambiguities and loopholes that any candidate would be foolish to sign it.
I intend to conduct my current campaign, as I have my three previous runs for office, based on a comparison of the world view and specific issue policies between me and my opponent(s) -- a comparison of our respective records. In my case, my record includes the hundreds of columns, essays and opinion pieces I have written and have had published over the last 25 to 30 years in numerous publications, both locally and nationally. About 50 of those are contained in my first political book, "Proud to Be a Card-Carrying, Flag-Waving, Patriotic American Liberal," published in 1996.
A second political book, "A Tale of Dirty Tricks So Bizarre: Susan Collins v. Public Record" (2002), is a behind-the-scenes look at the shenanigans in the 1996 U.S. Senate race in Maine, in which the Republican candidate teamed up with the second largest daily newspaper in the state to create a scandal where none existed and to tar the Democratic candidate with actions he did not order, condone, or even know about. Those actions, by the way, involved a researcher looking up a public record, but the newspaper portrayed that perfectly legal and above-board conduct as akin to the senatorial candidate being "shadowed" or "stalked." The conduct of the Republican candidate, her campaign staff and the political writers for the Bangor Daily News were outrageous. Yet my book, all factual and backed up with sworn court testimony, might well trigger the "inflammatory" clause in your pledge.
Fast-forward to the coming election year. We have continuing news of outrageous conduct coming out of the White House and the Republican-controlled Congress. The Iraq War, tax cuts for the wealthy, the Patriot Act, FEMA, drilling in ANWR, Social Security, CAFTA, are all fair game, in my book. But if I rail against these actions, if I point out incompetence, illegalities, irrationalities, and if I characterize the cuts in critically-needed social programs as a "Republican war on the poor," am I violating your pledge?
We have a president who is threatening to veto a major Pentagon spending bill because of an amendment that forbids any agency of the U.S. government from torturing prisoners held by us, anywhere in the world. That veto threat by George W. Bush is inflammatory. We have a vice-president who is actively campaigning to mute that torture amendment to have it allow exemptions for some of our agencies. That action by Dick Cheney, and the fact that the president and the vice-president are taking these stands, is inciting hatred for Americans around the world. Would my speaking out against these atrocities (as I have already done repeatedly on the campaign trail) result in your organization chastising me for violating your "clean campaign pledge"?
May I suggest that your organization's efforts might be better focused on highlighting the bad examples you are trying to get candidates to avoid creating. Did your organization publicly castigate "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" for their outrageous attacks on John Kerry? Do you issue press releases in real time, pointing out examples of current advertising you feel incites, inflames or misleads the voting public? That's where I think you could have a real impact on how campaigns are conducted.
So while I fully intend to conduct my U.S. Senate campaign in the spirit of your campaign pledge, I am respectfully declining to sign on. Furthermore, I trust that your organization, in the interest of full disclosure, will include the contents of this email with any posting of my name on any online or published list of candidates who have signed -- or refused to sign -- your pledge.
Jean Hay Bright
Democrat for U.S. Senate 2006
November 11, 2005
Thank you for your response. No offense taken to your comments concerning our pledge. Previously, several candidates have signed it. Several candidates have also stated that they intend to sign it. Thus, I strongly disagree with your assertion.
If your book, which I have not read, is completely factual, it would not trigger the "inflammatory" cause. Material that would trigger that clause can be located in the recent New Jersey Gubernatorial campaign. Stating a "Republican war on the poor" would be overstating it within the bounds of our pledge, as I am unaware of a war declared. Also, the word atrocities is harsh and is considered, by most to be incendiary.
In 2004, we publicly condemned all actions by 527 groups, including "Swift Boat Veterans" and "Moveon.org" etc. Also, we do not publish a list of those who declined to sign. Thus, your final request is mute. I appreciate your comments.
President & Founder