A smear is a carefully planned tactic to malign a candidate and undermine his/her credibility with the voters.
Even though smear tactics are considered by many to be a low form of discourse; they are nevertheless very common.
They also violate the provisions of WAC 390-32-310, Washington's Fair Campaign Practices Code, as adopted by the Public Disclosure Commission. Granted, the code is a guideline - (The PDC will not enforce it). But voters have the right to choose candidates who treat opponents and citizens with respect, rather than contempt.
Last week, Sam Taylor, government reporter for The Bellingham Herald debunked the personal attacks against Kevin in his political blog.
Taylor conducted a detailed background investigation which revealed that information published about Ranker in these fliers are “false, distortions or spin” Taylor's article in The Bellingham Herald can be read here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/102/story/597735.html
The San Juan Islander also address the attacks head-on here: http://www.sanjuanislander.com/columns/rumor-control/2008.shtml
Here are links to copies of the fliers and press release that have been allegedly distributed by Steve Van Luven and his supporters.
The first set of fliers were allegedly distributed at forums and other events in the 40th Legislative District: flier 1 states that the Steve Van Luven for State Senate Committee paid for the cost of copying the document. Flier 1.1 is a press release falsely accusing Ranker of participating in a protest to release a convicted cop killer, Mumia Abu-Jamal.vanluvennegflier1
The second set of fliers were allegedly placed in Bellingham newspaper boxes by persons unknown. Julie Shirley's post regarding the fliers may be found here: http://blogs.bellinghamherald.com/index.php?blog=11&title=campaign_flyers_appear_in_herald_boxes&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1
RCW 42.17.120 requires that sponsor(s) of political advertising identify themselves. The only flier in this collection that includes sponsor identification is flier 1.
There is no information posted on the other two fliers identifying the sponsor(s) or group that printed or distributed the fliers.
Looks like a valid Attorney General's Office complaint to me --
Open, honest, transparent elections are worth fighting for!
Relevant rules and statutes:
Fair Campaign Practices Code
WAC 390-32-010 - The public disclosure commission adopts this Fair Campaign Practices Code. Pursuant to the provisions of RCW 42.17.370
(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. http://apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=390-32-010
RCW 42.17.120 -- No contribution shall be made and no expenditure shall be incurred, directly or indirectly, in a fictitious name, anonymously, or by one person through an agent, relative, or other person in such a manner as to conceal the identity of the source of the contribution or in any other manner so as to effect concealment.
RCW 42.17.120 can be viewed here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=42.17.120
WAC 390-32-010 can be viewed here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=42.17.120
Definition of Smear Campaign. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smear_campaign
Photo of Kevin and one of his supporters from his Senate campaign website: http://www.kevinranker.com/index.html