Thursday, October 23, 2008

failing to achieve false equivalance

State Rep. Greg Hughes, who may not be holding onto his seat come November, filed a retaliatory ethics complaint against the guy who leaked the story Hughes' ethics troubles to the news media. The idea was to discredit one of his critics (he has also claimed that the former state rep. who testified that he offered her campaign contributions in exchange for voting for the voucher bill is making it up to get back into politics). So far, so bad for Hughes.
A complaint of ethical misconduct against Rep. Phil Riesen was dismissed Wednesday, as the House Ethics Committee determined the complaint did not allege a violation worth considering.
The vote to not proceed and hear testimony on the complaint came down on a 4-to-4 vote, with the four Democrats on the committee voting not to hear testimony.
And if Hughes got a slap on the wrist for what he might have done, why should Reisen face a stiffer penalty? For tattling on his colleague? That's what the Republican members of the committee were mad about, and it shows how out of touch they are with reality.

Hughes is threatening to sue Reisen civilly for defamation. The trouble for him is that public figures can be slandered and defamed for lots of things with little or no basis in fact, unless the speaker acts with "actual malice" - knowledge that statements are false or in reckless disregard of the truth - is alleged and proved by the public figure. So good luck with that.

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