According to a piece yesterday in Willamette Week, a paid Merkley staffer was caught trying to finagle his way into the Novick campaign by posing as a college student who wanted to help the Novick campaign raise money. But sharp-eyed Novick staffers recognized him and his unethical plan was foiled.
Rather than attempt to shirk responsibility or ignore it altogether, the Merkley campaign forthrightly aknowleged it and accepted responsibility.
Merkley campaign spokesman Matt Canter confirmed Ingraham misrepresented his identity when he went to Novick's headquarters. He said Ingraham took the action on his own initiative and has apologized to Merkley and to the Novick campaign.
"His behavior is unethical and he's apologized,'' Canter says, adding that Ingraham has been reprimanded and told he would be dismissed if it happened again
Not every campaign handles this kind of ethical malfeasance in such a straightforward, honest manner.
Take the Smith campaign for example. When NRSC tracker Tim Lussier was caught in his own tracking scandal, Smith spokesman RC Hammond blamed the Democrats:
Asked about his tactics, Smith spokesman RC Hammond said the Republican experience with trackers came from watching the Democrats.
Gordon Smith: master of obfuscation. It says a lot about Smith's character (not to mention the character of RC Hammond) to not take responsibility for an ethical lapse done on his behalf.
The measure of an individual or his/her political campaign isn't in how close they get to perfection, since to be human is to err. Rather the measure of an individual is in how that person deals with adversity... with their own failings or the failings of those employed on their behalf.
It speaks volumes about Jeff Merkley and his campaign that the staffer was reprimanded and dealt with immediately. They didn't hide from it. They didn't ignore it. They didn't point fingers at their opponents and project fault. They owned it.
These unexpected occurences give us a glimpse into the character of the candidates vying for our votes. From dogcatcher to President, pay attention to how a campaign handles adversity. It will teach you practically everything you need to know.