This faux outrage on the right about Strickland’s former staffer’s expunged exhibitionism conviction is exactly why I hate politics. It is also why our voter turnout is so low, and people just tune out. It’s vile, disgusting, unsupported smears like this that drive citizens out of the political process.
What’s worse is that right-wing authoritarians know this, and use it to drive moderates out of the voting booth and increase the chances of right-wing candidates winning elections.
This exact same smear was levelled at Strickland in the primary by another candidate who was so far behind he made Blackwell look like he’s within striking distance.
Here are the facts:
- In 1994 a college student was convicted of public indecency (not pedophilia), a 4th degree misdemeanor
- In 1997 Strickland hired the man, unaware of the conviction (according to all parties involved)
- In 1998 Strickland received an anonymous letter that the man had a prior conviction. Strickland asked the man, who denied the allegation.
- After winning the election, Strickland took a planned celebratory trip to Italy with his campaign staff. The only staffer able to make the trip was the man in question.
- In 1999, the man voluntarily left the employ of Strickland, and has not worked for him since.
- In 2002, the man’s conviction was expunged. For a one-time offender, who is not guilty of a sex crime, this is not some kind of unusual situation that requires shady manipulations from those in power. One only has to apply and demonstrate to the review board that you are not a threat and the offense was a one-time transgression.
- Earlier this year, Bryan Flannery raised this exact same issue, and made the exact same implications (that Strickland is a gay pedophile). When Flannery was unable to provide any proof of wrongdoing by Strickland, he was rightfully disgraced.
There is no merit to the charge that Strickland is gay, is pro-pedophilia, or knowingly employed a convicted criminal. There is zero evidence to support any of those ideas. The difference with the criticisms of GOP House leadership is that we have proof that they’ve known about Foley’s transgressions for 6 years, and not only covered up his past transgressions, but allowed him to be in a position to continue sexually harrassing Congressional pages.
Right-wingers: stop lying. Stop spreading untruths and innuendos that are unsupported by the facts for political gain. It is ugly, vile, and damaging to the character of our state and country. You should be ashamed of yourselves.