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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Fernandezistas: Hey, look over there!

by folkbum

The (blog) headlines are scary with two es: "Tony Evers' Scandal?" reads one. "CRG files complaint in DPI race" reads another. The writers are near giddy with the idea that there's a there there that will sink the campaign of Tony Evers for state superintendent. McIlheran, the former newsman of the group, at least sounds newsy: "Fund-raiser e-mail on Evers' behalf was wrong, official says"--although it still implies there's something Evers himself did that was wrong, which is not true.

In the end, despite the noise they're making, the reality of the situation is quite banal: A Tony Evers supporter, like thousands of others around the state in the last few months, got an email from the campaign promoting an event. The supporter, Jeff Dickert, made the bone-headed move of using his work email--he works for CESA7, a state education agency--to forward information about the event to the school officials he works with.

What Dickert did, by his own admission, was wrong, but understand this: The Tony Evers campaign had nothing to do with it.

Because the Rose Fernandez supporters know they have a weak candidate--anemic fundraising and limited experience on the issues, for example--the Dickert email has been the hot topic for the last five days, consuming the blogs and talk radio. And the Fernandezistas are not shy about throwing around unfounded and often clearly false charges. Mark Belling, on his radio show (mp3 link), said, "I have learned that the campaign of Tony Evers, candidate for Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction in the April election, is using state resources to campaign to state workers to try to raise money for the campaign." This is false. The campaign had nothing to do with Dickert's email, as Dickert made clear himself. Belling later goes on about "the Evers campaign and the apparent decision to use the best target list they have"--again accusing the campaign of directing Dickert to send the email, which did not happen.

"What is not clear at the moment is if Jeff Dickert is real player in Evers' campaign. Based upon the email, we know that Dickert is a coworker and supporter of Tony Evers," wrote one blogger. Dickert is not a "player" in the campaign, real or not, just one of Evers' many supporters. And as an Evers campaign staffer told me, the campaign wouldn't recognize Dickert if they saw him.

"Both Dickert and Evers are long time liberal bureaucrats in the educational system, and thay know this law [against using state email for campaign purposes], but Evers, at least, blatantly violated it and a criminal investigation should begin immediately," wrote another blogger, offering up a bald-faced lie. Evers and his campaign violated no laws at all here, just Dickert.

"What remains unclear is whether Evers will forgo any of the money [from] the meet-and-greet promoted by an apparently illegal bit of campaigning," adds another, in an attempt to taint a perfectly legitimate event planned and promoted by the Evers campaign, and any dollar fundraised from now on. I guess when your own candidate can't raise the funds herself, this is one way to try to level the playing field.

In sum, rather than talk about the issues of the campaign (unlike some of us) or ponder why the "liberal" candidates outpolled the "conservative" candidates in the February primary almost 3-2, Fernandez supporters would rather waste time spreading outright lies about Evers. Way to go, guys!

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