Sunday, July 30, 2006

Positively Doylean

Given his naked exploitation of the mentally ill and kids with diseases, it's just a matter of time before Jim Doyle resorts to this:

Josh Rales, a Democratic candidate for Maryland's U.S. Senate seat, paid a drug-treatment center in Baltimore to drive its recovering addicts to last week's debate in College Park, where they held signs supporting his campaign. About 20 patients from the I Can't, We Can (ICWC) drug-treatment and counseling center in northwest Baltimore attended the debate, said Adrian Harpool, president of the 21st Century Group, a Baltimore public-relations firm hired by the Rales campaign to recruit volunteers.

"It's not something that happens on a regular basis," Mr. Harpool said, adding that the recovering addicts were unpaid volunteers who were to help post signs but ended up holding the placards. "It was a real error in judgment on my part."

Using recovering addicts as campaign supporters does not appear to be illegal, said a spokeswoman for the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Kelly Huff said campaigns can use their money for "pretty much any lawful purpose as long as it relates to the campaign."

Still, Derek Walker, executive director for the Maryland Democratic Party, said the Rales campaign's volunteer-recruiting method was unusual. "I have not heard of it being done," Mr. Walker said. "Certainly, you get supporters to events in any way you can."

Mr. Rales, a Bethesda real estate investor and political newcomer, has spent $2 million this month on TV ads and could spend up to $5 million of his own money running for the Senate.

After last week's debate at the University of Maryland, Mr. Rales said he was "not familiar" with the treatment center but that he had no problem with recovering drug addicts holding the signs. "If I can help people who have some drug issues ... participate in the democratic process, I think that's great," he said.

Somewhere, the Doyle campaign is kicking itself for not thinking of this first.