So now I’m getting blow back on my post about John Kasich’s fake steelworker.  The good news is that my message on ex-offender rights is getting traction.  The complicated news is that…well….this is a complicated issue.

Many people are surprised that I haven’t got a problem with folks bringing up dude’s criminal record.  “I thought we weren’t supposed to bring up criminal records.  Hypocrisy!”  Given I’ve been badgered with my own criminal record unjustly for such a long time, and so many of my own supporters are the folks wondering if I’m a hypocrite, I understand that reaction. So I need to be clear.

Under the law, if you have a criminal conviction related to your veracity as a witness, no matter how long ago, the conviction is admissible evidence regarding your ability to tell the truth on the stand.  Settled law for centuries.  Fake steelworker dude is endorsing John Kasich as a guy who lost his job in a steel mill.  If he is a convicted liar –  fraud, forgery, or theft are crimes of veracity – that is relevant under the law if he is testifying in court.  Just because we aren’t in court, but in politics, doesn’t make his convictions any less relevant to his veracity.

If fake steelworker dude were convicted 15 years ago of drug possession, or say, importuning, or some other crime for which truth-telling is not an element of the crime, I definitely would have a problem with bringing up that conviction.  Such a conviction would be irrelevant to his veracity, and it’s merely titillating entertainment to bring it up, perpetuating the cycle of vengeful hate.  That is not the case here.  Fake steelworker dude is doing precisely that which got him in jail – lying.

That’s why my ban the box proposal, and most ban the box legislation in the country, only outlaws employment discrimination based on criminal record for crimes unrelated to the job. I’ve been very clear on this, both in my campaign, and in my own struggle to get beyond my mistakes.  My conviction is unrelated to just about any job I would apply for.  The vast majority of drug convictions, which make up the vast majority of the ex-offender population, are also unrelated to most jobs the ex-offender would ever apply for.  It is simple justice to make that distinction.

I learned in my case, even if an employer is a good guy and gives you a shot in spite of your past, you will have to prove every day of the rest of your life that you will never commit that crime again.  Running for office, I simply had to give the voters the full story myself, i.e. “bring up the conviction” MYSELF (which I did at length online – hell I ran on the conviction with the ban the box proposal), so I could ask ask voters to make the judgment that I had indeed moved on, and see where the chips fell.  They fell pretty solidly in my favor, because voters judged that I had indeed moved on, based on my openness and transparency about the conviction, and my own behavior in the years since.

On to fake steelworker dude.  As an ex-offender, I fully understand his plight.  But dude is repeating his stupid pattern that got him into trouble.  So I looked at his record closely.  He plead “no contest”, instead of “guilty”, to all of his charges.  Big difference.  Moving on means admitting your mistakes in their entirety at the time of sentencing, and committing to never repeating them again.  “No contest” ain’t that.  Neither is hiring yourself out to lie for a political candidate 15 years later.

Finally, there is a vast difference between being a paid actor in, say, a pharmaceutical commercial, and being a paid actor in a political commercial.  When someone pays you to say something political, you cross a very bright line.  You aren’t a voluntary endorser because you believe what you say, you are a paid endorser to say whatever payor wants you to say.  Or wait a minute – the character you play is an endorser….but ummmm…..the character is fiction….so….how do we know if… do we judge veracity……how can we ask a fictional character…….see?  It’s the Republican addiction to fiction boiled to a hard resin.  It matters politically in a way it doesn’t matter in any other advertising/acting gig.  That makes fake steelworker dude’s veracity even more relevant, and thus his crimes of veracity more relevant, too.

In fact, it’s precisely the difference Paul Krugman notes regarding how many Republican presidential contenders are now paid Fox News contributors.  The powers and billionaires behind the Tea Party, and Republicanism itself, use their money to pay people to do their dirty work, because there have never been, and never will be enough actual people who believe their line of horseshit.  This is where the rubber meets the road, folks.  And if some jackass wanders into this arena thinking his record of being held criminally accountable for his own lies is somehow going to go unnoticed, well, too bad, fool.

I don’t like people’s criminal past following them.  But if the reverse is true – if that person is following his own past – how can redemption follow, too?

  • Anonymous

    Wow. Loved it.

  • Guest


  • Sigh. First and foremost the “fake steelworker” bit came from actual steelworkers who claimed the guy was claiming to be a steelworker in order to make a political attack. I didn’t see anywhere in the ad where he claimed to be a steelworker. He could be pretending to be a construction worker, home inspector, crane operator, or any other job that typically wears a hard hat and a Paul Bunyan shirt.

    It is surprising that you, Tim, would cheer lead the use of this guy’s criminal record to attack him and by proxy Kasich. You can go on and on about veracity, courts of law, legal precedent, blah blah blah. The bottom line is you join Naugle at the bottom and reduce your previously hard fought arguments against the use of someone’s past in ad hominem type attacks.

    “Fake steelworker dude is endorsing John Kasich as a guy who lost his job in a steel mill.”

    Really? And you asked ME if I watched the ad? LOL. He never once claims he’s a steelworker. Some steelworkers claimed he might look like one in order to attack him. He never once claims he lost his job in a steel mill. You rest your entire argument on his utterance of one word “our”. Your filling in unknown after unknown with assumption after assumption here.

    He’s not lying, he’s ACTING. Something he was hired to do. In fact, you could argue that since he was so convincing as to make others think he was portraying a steelworker that he may have just been completely honest in his portrayal! I completely agree with Haas, who in another comment thread called out Modern on this. You lessen your argument when you follow Naugle to the bottom. It’s enough to point out this guy is an actor and it completely destroys the Kasich ad. You don’t have to follow the titillating criminal past – especially if you too have one and have fought very hard to not have it follow you forever and for others to enjoy the same. Your sure as SHIT don’t have any compelling or legitimate reason to post the lap dance photo, but I’m sure you could spend a few hours and write a big post about how this is continuing his pattern of fraud so it is legitimate to post it to make the guy straighten up his act. Afterall, we are blogging now to aid this guy in redemption – and totally not to embarrass or attack him! Oh no! It not only lessens your argument about the commercial but undoes a great bit of work you did trying to help those with past mistakes move on. It is – despite your significant theoretical machinations – a surprising stance for you to take.

    I think your supporters are right to call you out on this because you are being hypocritical and trying to find some small thread to hang on to in order to allow you the space to mock and belittle the guy while leaving your own trail of ex offender redemption unsullied.

    This is the problem with modern politics and political blogging. We lose all perspective in order to make an attack to win an election. It gets old and distasteful at times. That we’re not now going to fight against this guy’s long past record being used against him for political gain seems to cheapen the hard road many of your supporters have walked in trying to protect you from the same. Because he’s appearing in a Republican ad for a Republican candidate. I would like to think this issue is bigger than politics for you.

  • Wrong on all counts, Eric. Quite so.

  • Hear, hear, Eric.

    The main assumption Tim makes is that Eugene is an advocate, whether as himself or as a character. This is the flaw. For Eugene, it is a gig. Act, get paid, go find the next gig. The BS about subtitles about “compensated endorsement” or that because it’s a political commercial, it is special skews into pundit fantasy land. Remember, it is the ad agency, director, editor, etc that sets up the commercial. The actor is simply another prop for them to use to get THEIR point across, not the actor’s. To think an ex-offender actor has the luxury to pick or choose gigs is ludicrous. He takes what he can get, period. That is true of every professional actor I know. (and I know a few both in LA and NY. How bout you, Tim?)

  • What is the Latin for “I know you are, but what am I?”? LOL

  • Anonymous

    This is absurd. He’s playing a role=engaged in an intentional deceit. Um, this guy OBVIOUSLY isn’t suffering for gigs as a result of his convictions. He’s been used in national auto insurance ads and U.C. athletics. He’s been hired by a number of local independent film makers. He was used in an ad for a statewide candidate.

    You and Eric are asking us to weep for a guy who’s not suffering for work. Nor have you shown he ever as a result of his record.

    You say potato, I say potatoe. Let’s call the whole thing off.

    I find you both lecturing Tim about the plight of ex-offenders arrogant and absurd.

    To equate what this guy has gone through (though it’s entirely imagined by BOTH of you with no evidence) as the same as Tim has ignores the big distinction between the two and reveals your ignorance.

    Society is alot more forgiving of former thiefs and DUIs than they people convicted of sex crimes. This guy’s already demonstrated a much easier time finding work than we know Tim has. Maybe you’d realize that things aren’t exactly how you thought you saw them once you get off your high horse.

  • The Latin for your funny quote probably looks a lot like your comment – long, and plainly unwilling to see a distinction that does in fact exist. I’ve tried very hard to explain this distinction to you, and if you can’t see it, then fine. Don’t see it.

    And if I don’t have enough credibility on the issue of ex-offenders to be able to explain this distinction to you effectively, well, then I can’t help you. Sorry.

  • If you think there is no difference between an endorser (paid or not) of a political campaign and a paid acting gig, then we probably won’t see eye to eye on this. But there is.

  • okay, we disagree. Let’s have beer.

  • Modern, you obviously also don’t understand the life of a professional actor and the horse you claim I’m on is still quite lower than the one YOU’RE pontificating on. How many gigs does an actor get to get by, especially in a small market? Do you know? In NY, if they are lucky, they may have 3 or 4 jobs a year, then still have to wait tables. The ones that “make it” get about twice that. That is not a lot of work, they don’t get to bill $150 an hour like some professions. (That was snark. Sorry). To throw your argument back at you, have YOU shown that Eugene did NOT suffer for work as a result of his record? A few commercials and indy film roles (that pay crap) over a ten year period is not substantial, my friend.

    I have some idea about what Tim has been through as his friend. You forget I’m his campaign treasurer! I am pointing out, as a supporter of his Ban the Box effort, that prejudice against ex-offenders is the root cause for the lack of consideration for employment. Ban the Box is trying to take that out of the initial equation, but this thread of attacking Eugene for his record because he took a job that advertised an opposing candidate is counter to our effort.

  • If there’s one thing this comment thread needs more it’s beer!

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