Party whining should be ignored

It’s that time of year, when voters need to be warned about the political parties and their incessant, indiscriminate use of official complaints. In federal campaigns, they file complaints with congressional ethics committees or the Federal Elections Commission. In state campaigns, they file complaints with the Nevada Ethics Commission, a body that was set up specifically to service incumbent legislators with faster service than the public gets.

There may, since this fad began, have been hundreds of complaints filed with official agencies by the political parties. And nearly all of them came to nothing.

When dealing with campaign complaints was added to the state Ethic Commission’s duties, Clark County Sen. Ann O’Connell was asked why politicians do not use the same remedies as other citizens—going to court.

O’Connell said that would not provide herself and other legislators and candidates a rapid enough response for the needs of candidates, that they need public findings before the election. How onerous that candidates would need to labor under the burden of the same court backlog as citizens. And political parties serve as fronts so that candidates don’t look like whiners.

The additional duties had the effect of turning the Ethics Commission into a Fair Campaign Practices Commission—something Nevada had been spared until then. Such bodies exist in some other states, putting the state in the position of deciding what constitutes truth in an election campaign. The founding generation went to a good deal of trouble to prevent the state from having this power. The state decides what is truth in campaigns, such as they are, in Iran and China and such societies, but in political campaigns in the United States, the state should not interfere with decisions that should be left to voters. Many of the exchanges in campaign dialogue are subjective, and deciding who is right is for the voters.

A news release from the Nevada Democratic Party reads in part, “The state party has filed at least three other ethics complaints against Heller in the preceding six months.” “At least” three complaints?! Doesn’t the party know exactly how many complaints it has filed? At any rate, the promiscuous use of this totally political mechanism created by politicians to help politicians needs to be put into some kind of perspective by voters.

In addition, the Nevada Democratic Party seems to be striving to set some kind of record for picayune complaints. The latest was a complaint that Heller used on his campaign website a photograph taken by a Veterans Administration photographer and posted on Flickr for the use of all 300 million citizens of the United States. Photos taken by tax-paid photographers cannot be copyrighted and are in the public domain. We use them all the time, as do other citizens and entities. But the Nevada Democratic Party sees something sinister in their use by the senior senator from Nevada.

It would be good if Democrats reel in their party operatives who are making the party look silly and shift their activities back to stuffing envelopes and publicizing imaginary convention riots.

Filing of official complaints during all campaigns should be treated with many grains of salt.