Steve Hansen: ‘Smear’ letter is, belongs, in the garbage

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By Steve Hansen

Former QCS Managing Editor

Even in an age of negative campaigning, there should still be a level below which you do not sink.

An anonymous letter I received last week that does not even name a funding source — as obscure and hard to pin down as these usually are — sinks below that level.

Many others probably received the same letter. It smears an incumbent in a local race. It does not advocate for one of the other candidates. It only smears the incumbent.

I am not naming names, because I’m commenting only on the campaign tactic. I am acquainted with all the candidates in this race and hold all in high regard.

“Smear” is the only word I can use to describe the letter’s contents. While I cannot research all of the allegations, the ones I know something about or could find information about were badly distorted or, at best, doubtful.

That’s enough to make me doubt the validity of all of the letter’s accusations.

I know from personal experience that one of the allegations made against the incumbent is badly distorted. The candidate expressed doubts about an agency’s accountability, and now that agency is making regular reports to this candidate’s elected body, as it should because the elected body provides funds to the agency.

I also know that the doubts this incumbent had expressed had been loudly proclaimed by elected officials in other public bodies. In the anonymous letter, these doubts are labeled “personal attacks.”

There was also an allegation of “frivolous” lawsuits filed against the Quay County school districts. There is no evidence of any such lawsuits on the state’s court case-finding service, at least since 1986, but that excludes federal court cases.

Besides, lawsuits filed by a candidate that an anonymous individual does not like are not necessarily frivolous, just because of the anonymous individual’s personal distaste.

“Frivolous,” in fact, is a good word to describe a completely anonymous smear-campaign letter.

I was disgusted when I saw this letter, and to write this column, I had to fish it out of my trash can.

Now I’m putting it there again. I can’t think of a better place for it.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:

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