The Republican Smear Machine has already started cranking out their nonsense in all its finest glory. Some of it leaked out into our local newspaper editorials section of “The Potomac News” on June 15, about Senator Obama allegedly breaking his promise to not take Lobbyist money. With this letter, I decided to officially become an “activist” and get clarification directly from the Obama campaign.
This particular letter “Who gets money from Exxon/Mobil? was pernicious and irritating because the writer, one O.P. Ditch (can’t possibly be a real name) ventured forth into territory few Conservative writers ever go. The writer used actual (but cherry-picked) facts, in this case from OpenSecrets.org to claim that Sen. Obama had the second highest “take” of campaign funds of any sitting senator from Exxon/Mobile.
I didn’t buy it, but I decided to do something even fewer Conservative writers ever do; I contacted the Obama campaign for clarification.
I located a contact phone number off the Obama for President Website, and made a phone call Tuesday June 17. I explained my issue, and also explained that I would really like a quick answer so I could get an LTE rebuttal into the newspaper. The aid was polite, and told me she would contact the people within the campaign who could give me a reply. I left my name and e-mail contact info.
The very next day I received a nice e-mail reply form the campaign. I used this in an LTE submitted later that day. Unfortunately, my McCain letter was published the next day. Even though the newspaper policy is two letters per month per writer, I’ve never had more than one published in any one month.
On July 3 the editor contacted me, asking to see a copy of the exact e-mail received from the Obama campaign. I promptly forwarded it, and later that day the editor replied that he would publish my letter over the weekend. On July fifth, my letter titled “Correcting the record on Obama” was published.
On June 15, this newspaper published a letter by O.P. Ditch titled “Who gets money from Exxon/Mobil?” The writer republished information from the non-governmental, non-partisan Web site OpenSecrets.org, which seemingly showed that Senator Obama had received $32,550 dollars in campaign funds from Exxon/Mobile. This amount was correctly listed as the second highest of any Senator (the writer neglected to mention the number one recipient of “Exxon/Mobile contributions” is Republican Senator John Coryn). The writer then used this information to cast doubt on Senator Obama’s stated policy of not accepting donations from lobbyists and PACs that do business with the federal government.
I decided to fact-check this by asking Senator Obama’s campaign staff for clarification. I contacted them on June 17 and received a response the very next day. Their response:
Thank you for contacting us with questions about donations to Senator Obama’s campaign.
Senator Obama does not accept contributions from federal lobbyists, corporations or PACs. All donors are required to list their employer and occupation, and that data is made public under federal law. Some private organizations use this data to track the contributions of people employed in an industry (or a profession or corporation), and then say that the “industry” has contributed. In fact, individuals employed in that particular industry have donated.
Also note that people can donate in their own name only and may only use personal funds. It is against federal law for a company to give money to its employees in order for it to be donated to a federal campaign.
Thank you again for contacting us.
Obama for America”
I can only wonder why writer O.P Ditch did not perform this simple fact-check.
I didn’t receive many comments via the on-line forum, much to my disappointment. I was called “smug” due to my closing line, which I guess means the poster was annoyed at what I wrote. Oh well.
The Last Week of Obama’s Presidency : After an eight-year run, President Barack Obama will be stepping aside as our president at the end of this week.
McCain’s Experience Is Not What We Want : In which I write a letter to the editor of our local paper putting presidential candidate Senator John McCain’s “experience” in the proper context.
Charest Answers James Simpson : A right-wing columnist for our local newspaper asks his readers a question. I answered it – he wasn’t happy.