The politics of smear

The recent letter attacking Debbie Boothe-Schmidt, written by Suzanne Weber, signed by Sheriff Horton, distributed by Weber, but on official looking Sheriff’s Department letterhead cannot go unchallenged. Not only is it completely unacceptable and unethical to compromise the non-partisan nature of the Sheriff’s Department, but in addition the letter contains smears and falsehoods. The art of the smear used in this letter is to equate the candidate’s position with that of those who endorse her, and then go on to misrepresent the positions of the endorser. Neither Debbie Boothe-Schmidt herself, nor North Coast Indivisible, have advocated for defunding and disbanding police in Tillamook.

Harm has already been done to both Debbie and to the Sheriff’s Department, but there are at least three actions which need to be taken to minimize the damage.
1. Although Horton did not write the letter, he did not bother to check whether the allegations that it contained were true or false before adding his name, and so smeared a candidate unjustly. He needs to apologize to Boothe-Schmidt.
2. Weber purposely smeared her opponent with falsehoods, as is the custom of some less than honest politicians. However by making it seem as if the letter came from the Sheriff’s Department rather than her campaign, she has now tainted that Department as being partisan and willing to spread falsehoods. She has done this at a time when more than ever the police need the trust of the public. If she has any shred of decency, Weber needs to apologize, not only to Boothe-Schmidt, not only to all the voters in district 32, but especially to the citizens of Tillamook County for compromising their Sheriff’s Department.
3. The Tillamook County Commissioners need to take urgent and immediate steps restore the integrity and non-partisan nature of the Tillamook County Sheriff’s Department. They need to clarify what members of this Department can and cannot do during political campaigns when acting in their official capacity.

John Rogan
Tillamook, OR