There are basic principles of decency, honesty, and fair play that should be observed when a candidate publicly announces that he or she intends to run for public office.
In Washington State, the Public Disclosure Commission has adopted the Fair Campaign Practices Code.
Pursuant to the provisions of RCW 42.17.370 (1) and (6) the public disclosure commission adopts this Fair Campaign Practices Code: (1) I shall conduct my campaign, and to the extent reasonably possible shall insist that my supporters conduct themselves, in a manner consistent with the best American tradition, discussing the issues and presenting my record and policies with sincerity and candor. (2) I shall uphold the right of every qualified voter to free and equal participation in the election process. (3) I shall not participate in, and I shall condemn, personal vilification, defamation, and other attacks on any opposing candidate or party which I do not believe to be truthful, provable, and relevant to my campaign. (4) I shall not use or authorize, and I shall condemn material relating to my campaign which falsifies, misrepresents, or distorts the facts, including but not limited to malicious or unfounded accusations creating or exploiting doubts as to the morality, patriotism or motivations of any party or candidate. (5) I shall not appeal to, and I shall condemn appeals to, prejudices based on race, creed, sex or national origin. (6) I shall not practice, and I shall condemn practices, which tend to corrupt or undermine the system of free election or which hamper or prevent the free expression of the will of the voters. (7) I shall promptly and publicly repudiate the support of any individual or group which resorts, on behalf of my candidacy or in opposition to that of my opponent(s) to methods in violation of the letter or spirit of this code. (8) I shall refrain from any misuse of the Public Disclosure Law, chapter 42.17 RCW to gain political advantage for myself or any other candidate.[Statutory Authority: RCW 42.17.370(1). 85-22-029 (Order 85-04), § 390-32-010, filed 10/31/85; Order 93, § 390-32-010, filed 8/26/77; Order 64, § 390-32-010, filed 11/25/75; Order 62, § 390-32-010, filed 8/26/75; Order 50, § 390-32-010, filed 3/3/75.]
I propose that we add the following clause to the WAC to make it clear that item (4) also pertains to immediate members of a candidate's family and the candidate's campaign supporters.
(9) I shall not use nor shall I permit the use of scurrilous attacks on any candidate or the
candidate's immediate family. I shall not participate in or nor shall I permit the use of defamation, libel, or slander against any candidate or the candidate's immediate family. I shall not participate in nor shall I permit the use of any other criticism of any candidate or the candidate's immediate family that I do not believe to be truthful, provable, and relevant to my campaign.
A principled leader will not tolerate attacks against members of a candidate's family, or his/her opponent's supporters.
Nor will a principled leader condone the use of Private Investigators or other individuals to follow or harass his/her opponent's supporters or the supporter's children. It may be legal to have someone followed, but it isn't ethical. No matter how you cut it, the act of surveillance is a "legal" form of intimidation designed to prevent individuals and families from volunteering to help the candidate of their choice. Children and other family members of a candidate (and/or a candidate's supporters) have a right to attend work and school without being followed, intimidated or frightened by an individual or a private investigator employed by: 1) a candidate; or, 2) a political PAC or trade organization that is supporting a particular candidate.
I grew up in a politically active family. My mom worked on two presidential campaigns while I was growing up, (with the actual candidate, not just a local party) and was never harrassed, followed or subjected to personal attacks by members of the media or the opposing candidate's campaign supporters.
I hope 2007 was an aberration -- and that 2008 candidates run clean, competitive campaigns like those conducted by most of our 2007 city council and county council candidates.