File Under: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Kip Tew is a lobbyist. The ethical kind. He hadn’t been on the City-County Council very long when he discovered that the city office established to monitor lobbying activities wasn’t working.

And hadn’t been for a good while.

The Mayor’s office hadn’t put anyone in charge of the process. Emails weren’t being returned. The ordinance establishing the office had a huge loophole (if the administration or a member of the council invited someone to testify, that wouldn’t count as “lobbying.”)

So Kip proposed a stronger ordinance; one with teeth. His proposal did several things–beginning, importantly, with making the office subject to an independent commission that would not be beholden to either the Mayor’s office or the Council. The Mayor would get two appointments to this commission, one Democrat and one Republican; the Council would get three, with no more than two from the same political party.

The proposal also added reporting requirements; for example, groups that ran advertisements for or against an issue would have to report what they spent, and it lowered the dollar threshhold for reporting.

All in all, a step toward more transparent, more accountable government.

Yesterday–three days before a hotly contested Council election–the GOP sent out a mailer mischaracterizing the proposal. (No, let me be candid. Mischaracterizations can be inadvertent. This mailer flat-out lied about the proposal, saying it was an effort by a lobbyist to evade scrutiny.)

I am particularly incensed about this because the Indianapolis Star just ran an indignant screed by¬†Matt Tully about a mailing that Tully said mischaracterized the record of Jeff Miller, an incumbent running in a different district. I don’t know anything about that mailing, but I’m willing to believe it was just as offensive and dishonest as the mailing targeting Kip Tew.

But then, Tully didn’t mention this one. And his column was clearly intended to leave the impression that the dirty tricks were all coming from one side.

Let me be clear: this shit is beneath the dignity of either party. It is not excusable no matter who does it. There are too many people who see politics as a game to be played rather than an arena for good-faith differences over policy (and too many reporters who evidently can’t distinguish between genuine disputes over public policy and petty political sniping).

If anyone reading this is voting in Council District #2, I don’t care who you support. (Well, that’s not true; Kip is a good friend of mine, and we discuss policy, which is why I knew what the ordinance in question really says.) But I do hope you will vote based upon actual performance, actual policy positions–and refuse to reward the sort of slime that is too often shrugged off as “politics as usual.”

I do hope that Kip’s intended good deed goes unpunished.