By Scott Tibbs, June 17, 2008
Two years ago, nonpartisan issue-advocacy group Citizens for Truth filed a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission when U.S. Representative Baron Hill was buying gasoline for voters at a campaign event. Hill's defenders tried to spin the event as an innocent way to promote dialogue about high gas prices. That is a good one. I am sure every single voter came away with the event thinking about the issues around high gas prices, and no one went away thinking "That nice man helped pay for my gasoline. I think I'll vote for him."
Now, Mike Montagano is pulling the same unethical (and probably illegal) stunt in his campaign for Congress in the Third District. The lack of respect that Indiana Democrats have for the rule of law is shocking and should be an automatic disqualification for anyone considering voting for them. It also exposes the hypocrisy of Democrats who supported "campaign finance reform" in a bid to get the money out of politics.
Montagano should have known better. During the same campaign, Kentucky Democrat Mike Weaver faced questions of possible lawbreaking for a similar gas buying stunt. Both Mark Souder and the National Republican Congressional Committee are right to question the legality of the stunt and I hope both the Souder campaign and the NRCC aggressively pursue the issue and the complaints.
The entire premise of the unethical attempt to bribe voters is shaky to begin with. Unless Montagano can point to specific legislation that Mark Souder supported that resulted in higher gas prices, it is just silly to blame a Congressman from Indiana for the fact that gas prices have gone up since 1995.
Whether Montagano's vote-buying scheme was illegal or not will be determined by an investigation. Legal, illegal or somewhere in between, the campaign stunt was highly unethical and represents the worst of modern politics. Ironically, Montagano is trying to unethically buy votes while his party's nominee for President promises a new tone in Washington. Can we move past the shady politics of the past? Montagano says "No, we can't."