Tuesday, October 21

Astroturfing: Las Vegas Police Protective Association

In one of the most fierce and costly state senate races in the history of Nevada, dishonesty has reached epic proportions as The Las Vegas Police Protective Agency (LVPPA) risks losing all credibility as an endorser.

In the LVPPA's latest mailing to discredit Sen. Bob Beers, the association calls the state senator's law enforcement endorsement false, even though it is undeniably true. Sen. Bob Beers posted a copy of the endorsement letter from the Peace Officers Research Association of Nevada (PORAN) on his Web site.

It's not the first erroneous attack by the LVPPA, but it does demonstrate why one local retired police sergeant, David A. Freeman, was prompted to write a letter:

"During my 30 years with the Las Vegas Protective Police Association, I can't remember a time when they ever polled members and asked for their opinions; most decisions were made by a select few who never sought the approval or disapproval from the men and women who guard and defend our communities," he said.

Given that fact, it seems to me that this might be a good time for rank and file officers to review the charter. When organizational leaders resort to mailing blatantly false accusations, they do more to damage the credibility of the people they serve than anyone else. But that tends to be the way it is with short-term smear campaigns and emboldened rhetoric: Any short-term gains tend to have long-term consequences.

The same holds true in the national races. I've seen several bloggers jump the shark this election cycle, never appreciating that their short-term fervor for one candidate or another could have long-term consequences in how people perceive them. And from a communication standpoint, that is always something to think about.



Rich on 10/22/08, 7:15 AM said...

Famous Last Words:

"The first hint voters get as they seek to judge political candidates is the way they conduct their campaigns. And the first step is to take personal responsibility for those campaigns, just as we hope office-holders will take responsibility for their votes.

Instead, both Ms. Copening and Ms. Breeden have shrugged their shoulders (in their extremely rare public appearances), insisting the ugly and misleading direct-mail campaigns are run by their parties, leaving the ladies themselves blameless.

Nonsense. Candidates have every right and moral duty to denounce misleading campaigning done in their behalf, and to publicly demand that it be stopped.

Instead, Ms. Copening and Ms. Breeden want voters to believe they can ride to Carson City on a septic tank truck -- yet arrive smelling fresh as daisies." — Las Vegas Review-Journal on the candidates faced by Sen. Bob Beers and Sen. Joe Heck

Rich on 10/22/08, 2:43 PM said...

More words:

The Las Vegas Protective Police Association now claims that the Peace Officers Research Association of Nevada doesn't count as a law enforcement. Go figure.

You can decide for yourself, right here.

Anonymous said...

This brings to mind the old saying, "If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen."

Dave Berns, host of KNPR's State of Nevada, reports several candidates including Ms. Copening are turning down his offers to discuss the issues with their opponents on-air.

Apparently they don't realize it's all part of the political game - facing opponents, arguing positions, talking to journalists, and telling voters their positions on issues. The absent candidates' lack of participation in the election process won't give voters much confidence in their ability to handle working in Carson City.

These candidates are branding themselves as pawns of their own party, lacking backbone and fortitude to handle the rigors of elected office, and, in the cases of Ms. Copening and Ms. Breeden, being complicit in political sexism (meaning letting the guys do all the dirty work for them).

I know you will loudly hear my weary cynicism and frustration when I say to all candidates who are avoiding the media or hiding behind their party, "Buck up! You're in the big leagues now!"

Anonymous said...


I often wonder why there aren't more legal actions against slander, libel and defamation of character by candidates, especially in cases when an opponent's charges are so blatantly untrue or twisted.

Is it because of the slower-than-frozen-molasses speed of the courts? At least it keeps the fact checkers in business!

Rich on 10/23/08, 11:46 AM said...

Thank you Bonnie,

The simplified answer of your not-so-simple question is that there are many barriers for politicians to pursue libel or slander because they are public figures and the burden to demonstrate malice and a real financial impact (among other things) remains with them, even when the criticisms and comments are blatantly false.

Financial impact is especially hard to demonstrate because my best guess is that state senators in Nevada make less than $6 an hour and only while they in session (sometimes 16-hours per day).

And yes, it is true that after Allison Copening failed in her first debate, keeping largely out of sight while claiming she needs the time to meet with residents one on one. It seems more likely she is just content to let the most massive and costly negative campaign ever launched against a state senator move forward.

So, unless residents are able to discover the truth in this election, they will be the real losers who will one day discover that Allison Copening never fought with insurance companies as she claims. She never had two wildly successful businesses. And her overstated qualifications are linked to practices that are the polar opposite of what I teach to public relations practitioners.

We desperately need campaign law reform or else we will continue to empower wannabe politicians like her who so blatantly and apologetically lie to voters while maligning the character of people who actually put residents well ahead of special interests or political parties.

To some degree, some of the blame belongs to the national campaigns this cycle. Both parties have demonstrated some of the most misleading rhetoric that we've seen in some time.


Rich on 10/26/08, 7:13 AM said...

Amazingly Absurd:

The primary reason the LVPPA now says they are endorsing Sen. Bob Beers' opponent is because Sen. Beers sponsored SB286, which would provide training to volunteer teachers who carry weapons in the event they need to protect students and fellow teachers. In Nevada, teachers are already allowed to carry firearms without any formal training (provided it's approved by the principle of the school). Sen. Bob Beers' bill would have fixed this.

What is especially absurd is when the NRA asked about armed faculty as a first line of defense in schools, Sen. Beers' opponent Allison Copening answered the question the exact same way — in other words, she pandered the NRA by telling them that she would support legislation such as SB286.

And then people wonder why some public relations professionals are not trusted. See Sen. Beers reaction here.

Rich on 10/27/08, 2:03 PM said...

More words:

David Kallas, president of SNCOPS, says that Nevada Highway Patrol (members of PORAN) are not real police officers.


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