The Prop. 29 campaign has been a textbook example of attacking the messenger when you don’t have an effective message of your own.
Recently the No on 29 campaign launched an ad with Dr. LaDonna Porter, a UC Davis Medical School grad who now practices in a Central Valley public hospital. No one is disputing what she says about Prop. 29. In fact, all of her points have been widely cited and documented by the campaign and major newspapers.
But supporters of the tax hike aren’t interested in a debate over the facts. To avoid a conversation about the measure itself, they are personally attacking a volunteer on the other side, focusing on her divorce and personal finance issues. If only all of us could be so pure and without fault as these saints.
Supporters are trying to connect dots that just don’t add up, concluding that she is being paid by the No on 29 campaign. She is not. Even after this was debunked by both Dr. Porter and the campaign it didn’t stop the witch hunt.
Instead, Dr. Porter, a volunteer who had the courage to publicly explain her position on a controversial issue, is being harassed and intimidated. Activists from the tax hike campaign picketed her hospital. Reporters have been caught peeking into the windows of her home and have showed up late in the evening, camera in hand, demanding interviews. The press has every right to cover the aspects of the campaign they deem newsworthy, but there is a line.
Supporters of the tax hike launched a series of ads yesterday. The main message of those ads is that Big Tobacco is lying. Conveniently, they never identify the lies or back up this charge in any way.
Instead, they attack the messenger because they can’t find fault with the arguments presented by the opposition. Opponents have documented these and many more points and newspapers from around the state have reached the same conclusions. Proponents and anyone interested in the facts can go to readforyourself.com where they can read the full text of the measure itself (a message which has been included on virtually every voter communication from the No on 29 campaign).
Here are just a few examples:
Does Prop. 29 raise $735 million in taxes, but provide no new funding for cancer treatment? Yes.
Does Prop. 29 allow money from these taxes to be spent out of state or even out of the country rather than staying in California and creating jobs here? Yes.
Does Prop. 29 allow less than 25% of the funds to be used for smoking cessation and education? Yes.
Does Prop. 29 create a huge new bureaucracy and commission? Yes.
Does Prop. 29 allow the commission with its political appointees to spend $125 million on salaries, overhead and buildings? Yes.
Does Prop. 29 prohibit any changes for 15 years? Yes.
I suspect that proponents of Prop. 29 wish they had done a better job of drafting because the measure is full of flaws that have widely been exposed. If the measure passes, these flaws will be locked in for 15 years.
That’s the problem with ballot issues: Flaws in a measure become flaws in the law if the measure is passed. Everyone supports cancer research, but this measure is just too problematic to become law.
That’s why supporters of Prop. 29 are singularly focused on personally attacking Dr. Porter. When you can’t win on messaging, you attack the messengers. You change the subject when the facts aren’t on your side. Voters deserve an honest debate rooted in facts, not personal attacks on campaign volunteers.