Saturday, January 08, 2005

Blackwell Fundraising Letter Raises Stink

Less than 24 hours after I posted saying how the secretary of state should "go the extra mile" of avoid even the appearance of impropriety, the Columbus Dispatch reports on a fund-raising letter sent out by Ohio secretary of state Kenneth Blackwell. It appears to have been covered exclusively by the Dispatch - which requires a subscription to view - at this point, but it will probably hit the wires soon.
Ohio’s chief elections officer is facing criticism for a fund-raising letter that thanks Republicans for "helping deliver" Ohio for President Bush — and asks for illegal corporate contributions for his 2006 gubernatorial campaign.
The problem came when a fund raising letter sent out by Blackwell requested personal and corporate contributions to his gubernatorial campaign. Corporate contributions are illegal in Ohio.
Jeff Ledbetter, fund-raising coordinator for Blackwell’s gubernatorial campaign, said the request was an oversight. He said the printer used a template for an issue committee, which can accept corporate checks.
Mistakes happen. No big deal. More troubling to me however, was this language:
"I want to say thank you for helping deliver the great Buckeye State for George W. Bush," Blackwell wrote, adding that "unapologetic liberal" Democratic Sen. John Kerry could have won Ohio — but "thankfully, you and I stopped that disaster from happening."
Clearly Blackwell meant to speak as the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign for Ohio, not as the Ohio secretary of state. Unfortunately, Ohio secretary of state is not a role he can turn off and on whenever he wants. Blackwell needs to be aware of this, and how his words reflect on the office he holds.

It is disappointing that he did not recognize this, or thought it would go unnoticed.

Update: As predicted, this story has now hit the wires. Here is a link to the story that does not require registration.