Not only did Alexi Giannoulias admit to sending mailers to voters touting the Libertarian candidate in the Senate race in Illinois, he implicated the state Democratic Party in the attempt to siphon voters away from Republican Mark Kirk. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Giannoulias, who got pounded in the debate yesterday over millions of dollars in loans to mobsters while he served as loan officer for his family’s Broadway Bank, confessed to the dirty trick afterward. Giannoulias claims that sending ads touting another candidate without revealing the campaign as a source isn’t deceptive:
After the debate, Giannoulias admitted his campaign, in coordination with the Democratic Party, funded a mailer to Downstate conservatives touting Libertarian Senate candidate Mike Labno as the “pro-life, pro-gun” alternative to Kirk, who supports abortion rights like Giannoulias and who at least previously favored restrictions on handguns.
The Democrats hoped to divert votes from Kirk to Labno. Is that deceptive?
“No,” Giannoulias said.
“It’s a sign of increasing desperation of a campaign when the Democratic Party of Illinois starts sending out flyers on behalf of an entirely different party,” Kirk said.
The Capitol Fax Blog has scans of the mailer available for those who want to see it. TPM notes that the back of the mailer includes this disclosure, “Paid for by Illinois Victory, a Project of the Lake County Democratic Party.” That brings up another serious point. If Giannoulias’ campaign coordinated efforts with Illinois Victory, wouldn’t campaign regulations required that disclosure on the mailer, too?
As far as it being “deceptive,” that’s certainly in the eye of the beholder. However, when one campaign and political party starts funneling resources into pushing a competing candidate without disclosing their involvement in that “project,” it certainly seems deceptive. And why is Giannoulias and the Democrats pushing a pro-life agenda, if not to deceive voters? Democrats reject the pro-life agenda, and in Illinois the party hasn’t exactly been friendly to the pro-gun agenda either. That kind of advertising is extremely deceptive, as well as massively hypocritical.
It also fits a pattern of dodgy “Tea Party”-listed candidates around the country. John Adler’s campaign in New Jersey got exposed for doing the same thing in an attempt to fool voters into splitting their vote, and many suspect that the Scott Ashjian campaign in Nevada of similar ties and motivations. All of this leads to a fundamental conclusion: Democrats feel that they have to offer misdirection and dishonesty in order to hold onto power in Washington, and can’t win on their record and agenda in 2010. They’re as intellectually and politically bankrupt as Broadway Bank was financially bankrupt, and Alexi Giannoulias is the poster boy for both.
Update: I changed the headline from “third-party candidate” to “third-party campaign” because it seemed to me that it implied that Labno was part of the effort. I’m not saying his campaign had anything to do with it either, but the amended headline makes it less about Labno, as it should be.