Is it fraud or is it politics?

What if you threw a press conference and nobody came?

That happened this week to Shasta County Board of Supervisors District 3 candidate Bruce Waggoner, who had a beef with his opponent.

Waggoner felt incumbent Glenn Hawes lied about his political affiliation on a political postcard sent to Democrat voters recently.

The postcard appears to be an official summary of Democrat evaluations and recommendations on how to vote in the June 3 primary, including an item about Hawes. It doesn't give a political affiliation for the candidates, since the race is nonpartisan.

Hawes is a Republican.

The campaign's email calling a press conference contained the subject line "Democratic Voter Guide and Fraudulent Use of Name:"
Bruce Waggoner will address the alleged Democratic Voter Guide ... stating that Glenn Hawes is a Democrat (when in fact he's a registered Republican) and noting that he paid for his name to be on the voter guide. Waggoner ... will discuss the confusion and unethical tactics of a guide of this nature.

The only media who showed up were an InterMountain News weekly reporter and yours truly. No TV or Redding print media. The candidate and his people were irked and disappointed.

It's tough being a political candidate. I admire anyone who tries it. It's especially difficult to be a Democrat going against a Republican machine without substantial party help, counting on at least the media for a fair shake. I'm sure it feels like the whole world is against you.

Here's the thing. Upon a close look, the postcard didn't lie. It didn't call Hawes a Democrat and the fine print says who paid for it.

Is it fraud? No. Is it deliberately misleading? You better believe it. Is it unethical? Well, I wouldn't call it ethical. Does it prey on voters who pay poor attention? Absolutely. They are, in the time-honored parlance of politicians and circus ringmasters everywhere, SUCKAS.

It's a mystery why Hawes, who surely feels Gorilla-glued to his supervisor seat in this Republican stronghold, participates in tacky, sneaky, unworthy and completely unnecessary bullshit.

Another case of "It's not enough that I win ... the other guy must lose like a dog."

Here's the other thing. Unless it's Sunday night on a holiday weekend, when the media are desperate for a story, any story, you'll play whaley getting them to show up at what sounds like a same-old-ginned-up non-event to get last-minute press for a candidate the week before the election. They always see through that (it happens a LOT), and they don't have enough manpower to indulge it.

If you're lucky, they might give a phone call between mandatory assignments. They might even produce a short story. Don't count on it unless there's a competitor.

Reporters don't ignore a clear case of illegal activity. It's what they live for. But murky immorality is harder to pin down and harder to justify spending time on. They can tell the difference. Both stink. But one is just the smell of dirty politics. As usual.

Waggoner, Hawes campaign statements.


  1. It must be the first time in years that someone's tried to win votes in Shasta County by posing as a Democrat.

    Hawes has been in office for 12 years and has a long record of votes -- some of them controversial. If this the best his opponent can come up with a week before Election Day, then Hawes deserves to be the "slam dunk" for re-election that one kjb declared back in February.

  2. So who did pay for it? Was it really just a Hawes campaign mailer targeting Democrats, with other "endorsements" present to make it look authentic?

    I might be missing your point. No one likes misleading political ads (maybe that is your point), but is it necessarily a bad thing that a Republican would try to appeal to Democrats, or that a Democrat would try to appeal to Republicans? Or should Democrats only recommend Democrats, and Republicans, Republicans?