counter statistics

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Kare 11 on Ritchie Flap

This aired last night.

It appears that the Secretary of State's office did enter the groups that participated in the Civic Engagement Project into a directory that was in an excel spreadsheet form. Emails from the office went to the groups. Later, there was an email from the campaign that promoted the fundraiser.

Democratic Party Chair Brian Melendez comes out of hiding to try to minimize Ritchie's actions.

Democratic Party chair Brian Melendez said the GOP's blowing an "honest mistake" out of proportion by trying to "manufacture a phony crisis."

Ritchie told KARE this experience has taught him, among other things, partisan bloggers, political parties and opposition lawmakers at times work in concert for a coordinated attack.

"There is a concerted strategy to try to paint me as partisan. I've run this office for nearly a year on a very nonpartisan basis."

That is certainly true, but he left himself open for this attack by giving his campaign his civic engagement list without going through proper channels.

Others react:

But Giga and many Republicans contend Ritchie crossed the line by giving his campaign names he collected in his official capacity as Secretary of State.

"Maybe one list or one group of names going to his campaign isn't a big deal," said Giga, "But if it's multiple groups and multiple lists then we've got a serious problem."

Dave Schultz, of Hamline University's Graduate School of Management, told KARE 11 even if there's no ironclad that any laws were violated it's still an issue of perception for Ritchie and anyone else who holds that position.

"Clearly secretaries of state as chief election officials have to be beyond reproach. And this doesn't look good."

Schultz said he believes Ritchie will weather this storm, but that he needs to clearly apologize to the public and assure constituents' information provided to the office under any circumstances can't be lent to his campaign or any others.

"You don't want to be contacting your state representative or your Secretary of State, and finding out you're now going to be solicited for a contribution."

As for apologies, the Secretary of State did not offer any to the citizens at large Wednesday. He pointed out the controversial newsletter went to thousands of other people who didn't complain.

"Keep in mind there's 12,000 people. So two people in 12,000 did not want to receive the newsletter. And I apologize if they did not want to receive the newsletter."