We'd like to examine some of those claims made in Hixon's letter:
CLAIM #1: ATTACKS BY OUT OF STATE GROUPS?
It has also been brought to my attention, Mr. Massey, that you have been in communication and/or cooperation with the out-of-state funded PAC that has mailed voters false and misleading information about me in an attempt to aid your campaign against me.
THE TRUTH? There were six candidates in the Republican primary, not just Massey. Any damage done to Hixon could have benefitted any of the five other candidates, and no proof is presented to substantiate the claim that Massey benefitted from the mailings. In reviewing the two mail pieces in question, we saw nothing which indicated who voters should support in that race. These pieces simply discussed Hixon.
CLAIM #2: CONSULTANT MISCONDUCT?
Perhaps not coincidentally, the political consulting firm you have paid to manage your campaign has a history of using anonymous Websites to smear fellow Republicans, and just last week, national news reports revealed that your consulting firm was responsible for the anonymous site created to personally attack and spread untrue, hurtful information about Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson.
CLAIM #3: ACCUSATIONS OF COLLUSION?
So here is my proposal: Will you promise the voters that all negative attacks against Bill Hixon will cease? Will you instruct those PACs and websites which are supporting you to end their negative attacks on your behalf?
Mr. Massey, when you’re willing to add those two conditions to your pledge — thereby making it meaningful — I will gladly join you in a symbolic affirmation of my continued commitment to run a positive campaign.
THE TRUTH? Contacting a political organization making independent expenditures, much less giving instructions, would be illegal collusion (Sec 8-13-1310 & 1314). To ask voters to judge Massey for that which he cannot control is highly misleading.
Further, would voters believe the claims of, much less want to elect, a candidate who acts to suppress the First Amendment freedom of speech of those who wish to examine politician's record?
BREAK THE LAW OR ANYTHING GOES?
Hixon’s vaguely worded offer of “symbolic affirmation” is a loaded phrase which lacks any sort of explicit promise or pledge as to how he’ll conduct his campaign. Instead of using vague language, he should state clearly if he's willing to sign a clean campaign pledge or not.
Hixon, who had previously refused to sign a clean campaign pledge, now offers to do so, but only if Massey consents to conditions that are legally impossible for him to do. What if Massey doesn’t break the law to meet Hixon’s challenge? Will Hixon consider that carte-blance to wage an “anything goes” campaign?
While nobody likes mud-slinging campaign tactics, some of which have been criticized on this blogsite 1 2, it’s disappointing that Hixon would make such an unfair challenge to Massey. We hope that he'll realize that ethical choices have to be made on an individual basis and choose to take the high road in his campaign, regardless of what others may do.
Shane Massey has a detailed “Clean Campaign Pledge” to clarify his intended campaign approach on his website and take responsibility for the conduct of his campaign, to the extent that the law allows. The voters should judge Massey’s campaign by this standard, and hold him accountable for those promises, instead of being misled by the claims made in Hixon’s letter.