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My name is David Bailey, and I'm an unpaid staffer on Coleen Rowley's campaign for Congress in MN-02.  But I'm not writing this as a representative of her campaign, I'm writing it as an individual who has been smeared by my congressman.  John Kline has sent out mass mailings to the district --- twice --- making accusations about me he knows are false.  Once he accused me of trying to entrap a federal employee into breaking the law, and once he accused me of promoting meth.

John Kline is a two-term incumbent and 25-year Marine Corps veteran.  His spokespeople have the gall to claim "John Kline doesn't need to be lectured about ethics; he's lived it".  Perhaps he did at some point in the past, but it's hard to imagine anything more vicious and dishonest than what John Kline has said about me.

To begin with, I should explain who I am and how I came to be on this campaign.  I work as a full time software developer and donate what time I can --- about 10 hours a week --- to the campaign.  I'm also a blogger, and last October I started a blog discussing John Kline's Record, and writing letters to the editor on Coleen's behalf.  In late April, Coleen asked me to join the campaign staff but, because I have two kids and a mortgage, I couldn't leave my job.  This is why I only work on the campaign part time.  I joined the campaign on May 6 on an unpaid basis but, out of ethical considerations, I was designated as "staff" to reflect the fact that I work closely with the campaign.  My duties involve drafting and editing public statements and, of course, blogging.

First smear:
In late February --- months before joining Coleen's campaign --- I became frustrated by the fact that my congressman, John Kline, was unresponsive.  I had sent numerous letters via snail mail and email, and made numerous phone calls to his office, asking about, for example, whether he agrees with George Bush's contention that the war on terror necessitates spying on innocent Americans without judicial oversight (to my knowledge, Kline has yet to make a public statement on this issue, which tells you a lot about both Kline and our local lapdog media).  Since I was being ignored, I decided to be a bit more aggressive.  I paid a visit to my congressman's office to get answers.  And I was prepared to make a $10 campaign contribution to get on his mailing list, if that's what it took.

John Kline's district congressional office and his campaign office are in the same building.  I went to his campaign office first, but there was no indication that the office was open to the public.  Just two large closed doors, with no window into the office, no sign saying "Kline for Congress" or anything like that.  So I proceeded upstairs to the congressional office for help.

I asked the receptionist if she could give me any position papers, issues statements, or anything else to inform me about where my congressman stands on the issues.  She told me there were none, but if I had a question, I should write it down and she would pass it along.  So I pulled out the ace up my sleeve.  I told her I wanted to make a campaign contribution.  She informed me that I would need to do that in the campaign office, and pointed me in the direction of another woman who worked in that office.  The campaign worker walked me downstairs and took me behind the big, featureless, closed doors.

I started to offer a campaign contribution, pulling out a $10 bill out of my wallet, prepared to supply her with the usual information: name, address, employer.  She told me they couldn't accept cash.  So instead, I asked whether the campaign office has any fliers or pamphlets or other information about my congressman.  She said no, it had all been sent out in a recent mailing.  So finally, I asked to be put on the mailing list and (this part is key) wrote down my name, home address and email address.  After spending a few more minutes trying to get information from her about my congressman's views, I thanked her and left.

Now I ask you: Which of us was behaving suspiciously, the person trying to get information about the issues from his congressman, or the staffer who refused to provide it?

This occurred on February 27.  I joined Coleen Rowley's campaign on May 6.  On August 9, John Kline sent a mass mailing to the district saying the following:

A senior member of Coleen Rowley's campaign tried to hide his identity to infiltrate Congressman John Kline's campaign.  And he tried to get congressional staff to take a phony cash campaign contribution.
Coleen Rowley's research director, David Bailey, went to Congressman John Kline's Congressional District Office and tried to make an anonymous cash contribution to Kline's campaign. . . . Of course, it's illegal for any fundraising to take place in a government office.

I wasn't aware a constituent needed to swear a loyalty oath before asking his congressman a question.  And it's especially ironic for Kline's campaign to make a big deal over an attempted $10 campaign contribution when Kline still has $30,000 from Tom DeLay's ARMPAC, not to mention $1,000 he received from DeLay himself.  And of course the accusation that I attempted to donate anonymously is 100% false.  But the worst part is that he knowingly made false statements about me, by name, and sent them out to the whole district.  (More here.  See one media account here).

Second smear:
For nearly 8 years now, my wife and I have had our own personal website.  Ever since the kids came along, we hardly ever update it anymore.  But in 2003, before I discovered blogging, I wrote up a few brief statements of my views on certain issues.  Among them was this:

If I could change only one policy in this country, I would decriminalize drug use. Regulate drugs the same way we regulate alcohol and tobacco. This one change would be a great economic stimulus, allow us to use the billions we throw away each year for the "war on drugs" more productively, and yank the funding out from organized crime. It's a no-brainer.

Now, I'm sure I don't need to tell most Kossacks the obvious logic here.  Prohibition led to bathtub gin and Al Capone; criminalizing drug use has led to things like meth labs and a reliable revenue source for organized crime and terrorists.  While this isn't a popular view, it is not an uncommon one, and is held by, among others, the Cato Institute, an organization to which John Kline links approvingly (look fast before he takes it down).  The Center of the American Experiment, a conservative think tank to which John Kline belonged prior to winning his seat in 2002, also links to it.   But this didn't stop Kline from using my earlier statement to smear me, sending another flier around the district just yesterday with the scare phrase: "Who could possibly want to make METH LEGAL?"  Here's more:

Drugs destroy lives and families.  Methamphetamine (meth) is an especially dangerous drug.  It's cheap, highly addictive, and is a growing threat to our communities. . . .
Bailey wants to legalize drugs --- and not just marijuana for medical purposes.  He supports legalizing crack cocaine, heroin and meth.  That's not just liberal.  That's wacky.

There are several things wrong with this.  For one thing, although I was called Coleen's "research director" in the previous smear, I've apparently now become Coleen's "top issues advisor".  For another, given Kline's approval of the Cato Institute, this is base hypocrisy.  For another, what I wrote on my personal web site three years ago has precisely nothing to do with the policies Coleen will champion once she's elected.

The worst part, of course, is that these smears demonstrate that John Kline doesn't care what he has to do or who he has to hurt in order to hold on to his seat in Congress.  I learned about this most recent smear because one of our friends received this flier in the mail, and called my wife at work to ask if it was true.  My kids aren't old enough to read yet, but I don't care to think about the effect this would have on them if they knew that a sitting member of Congress is telling people their Daddy supports methamphetamine use.  Kline didn't think about who might be hurt by this, because he doesn't care.  He only cares about winning.

Coleen has spent nearly a year working hard to discuss the issues she believes are important to our district, and promoting meth use isn't among them (for the record, Coleen is opposed to decriminalizing drug use).  Conversely, John Kline has done everything he can to avoid discussing his two terms in Congress: his rock-ribbed support for the disaster in Iraq, for privatizing Social Security, for Medicare Part D.  Go to his campaign web site, and you will find it to be 100% devoid of substantive content.  Attacks are all he has.

I know that in some warped way, these attacks are a good thing.  The fact that he's striking out so hard and so viciously nearly three months before the election means that he's scared, and he should be.  John Kline is one of the most conservative members of Congress, and bears as much responsibility for steering our once-great nation down the wrong path as any of them.  The very fact that he refuses to discuss his record shows that he knows that's a losing proposition.  But the effects of Kline's smears will be with me long after November 7, win or lose.

So I'm asking the Kossacks and the blogosphere to help.  Please recommend this diary and get the story out.  Let everyone know that the Marine Colonel Congressman is so afraid to discuss his record that he's resorted to smearing an unpaid staffer.  And although I hate to mention it, Kline has a sizeable cash advantage over Coleen; anything you could do to help out would be greatly appreciated.

Originally posted to Diogenes Cynic on Thu Aug 17, 2006 at 08:51 AM PDT.

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