By Scott Tibbs, October 11, 2006
What kind of a man would break a promise he made to a group of pastors?
In the middle of August, Baron Hill signed a clean campaign pledge in which he promised to refrain from any campaign activity "that misrepresents, distorts or otherwise falsifies the facts regarding an opponent." Baron Hill further promised to "publicly repudiate any support deriving from an individual or group whose activities would violate the principles of this pledge".
Baron Hill broke his clean campaign pledge when he failed to denounce Mike Leonard, a far-left columnist for the Bloomington Herald-Times who fabricated a congressional vote by Mike Sodrel.
It is no secret that Leonard is a Hill supporter, as he has defended Hill and attacked Mike Sodrel in his column on many occasions. Whether Leonard was officially campaigning or not, his fabricated smear on Mike Sodrel was clearly designed to influence the outcome of the election.
The type of gutter politics practiced by Mike Leonard are unacceptable. It is one thing to engage in kindergarten-level name calling, such as the numerous times that Leonard has called Congressman John Hostettler a "dim bulb". Fabricating a vote in order to smear a sitting Congressman is way beyond the boundaries of civil political discourse. Does the Herald-Times now have any credibility when it calls for reasonable and civil dialogue?
When Leonard decided to make things up to further his argument, he committed a major and serious breach of journalistic ethics. What steps will the H-T take to make it clear that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated? Leonard's intentional fabrication was far worse than the mistake made by Kurt Van der Dussen that led to his demotion. This casts a major shadow over the paper's trustworthiness as a news source.
Baron Hill should apologize to the Monroe County Religious Leaders group for failing to follow through on his pledge and should immediately and strongly denounce Mike Leonard. Anything less should be unacceptable to anyone who believes in the clean campaign pledge Hill signed.