GUILT BY NON-ASSOCIATION. John Kerry today is fending off a smear launched from outer space. The Associated Press reports that Americans Coming Together (ACT), a liberal independent organization working to defeat George W. Bush, has hired some ex-cons to help with its door-to-door canvassing.
Is this a good idea? Well, giving former inmates a chance to earn a living certainly doesn't sound like such a bad thing to me. But that's not the point. You could think it's a terrible idea and still shake your head at this story. The AP's David Lieb calls ACT "crucial" to Kerry's hopes, and writes:
America Coming Together, contending that convicted criminals deserve a second chance in society, employs felons as voter canvassers in major metropolitan areas in Missouri, Florida, Ohio and perhaps in other states among the 17 it is targeting in its drive. Some lived in halfway houses, and at least four returned to prison.
But wait! Farther down, Lieb adds this:
Although it works against the re-election of President Bush, ACT is an independent group not affiliated with Kerry's campaign - federal law forbids such coordination. Yet ACT is stocked with veteran Democratic political operatives, many with past ties to Kerry and his advisers.
Allison Dobson, a spokeswoman with the Kerry campaign, said there is no coordination with ACT, and of the policy: "We're unaware of it and have nothing to do with it."
This isn't even guilt by association - it's guilt by non-association.
Not surprisingly, today's Boston Herald goes huge with this, blowing out the front with a headline that screams "CROOKS FOR KERRY." The story, by David Guarino, credits the AP, and treads pretty much the same path as Lieb - that is, sounding the alarm that a pro-Kerry organization is providing honest work to ex-cons, while at the same time noting that Kerry's campaign, by law, has nothing to do with the group.
And just to complete the circle, Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie issued this statement:
It is disturbing that the voter mobilization arm of the Democratic Party is proudly hiring felons convicted of sex offenses, assault and burglary to go house to house and handle sensitive personal information.
Democrat voters should be leery of opening their doors to political operatives until the Democrats can assure them that a convicted felon won't be on the other side.
I suppose Gillespie deserves at least a little credit for not using the word "Kerry." Would that the AP and the Herald could be so precise.
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