As we noted in last week’s podcast, Matt Campbell’s blog (the Blue Hog Report) recently dug up an interesting news story – namely, a serious regulatory violation by Tiger Corrections, the business owned by state Senate candidate Chad Niell. Tiger’s illegal actions recently led to a consent decree and an agreed-upon fine of $21,000. Blue Hog deserves congratulations for digging all this up (or, more specifically, acting on a tip faster than I did).
But I’m less enamored with Campbell’s more recent scoop: his 737-word accusation detailing how he’s discovered evidence that a staffer for the Secretary of State has been “engaging in political activity on state time, via his state email address.”
That’s a serious charge. For instance, a state employee who engages in certain kinds of political activity with government resources could face both fines and jail time; upon conviction, that employee will also be fired immediately and be forever ineligible for government employment. (See Act 312 of 2013.) But I was more than a little taken aback when I continued to read Campbell’s accusations, which I soon discovered were 100% sizzle and 0% steak.
To summarize: Campbell discovered that an employee in the Secretary of State’s office had emailed a couple of news articles to other SoS employees.
If you’re underwhelmed by Campbell’s discovery, join the club. As for me, I was so underwhelmed that I resolved to write the rest of this post in Matt Campbell’s deeply condescending voice. See if you can figure out which sentences below are influenced by Campbell’s rhetorical stylings.
In fact, reading the newspaper – or talking to other people about what’s in the newspaper – doesn’t qualify as political activity. Plenty of state employees read the newspaper on state time, and I imagine that some of them even circulate stories they find of interest. That ain’t political activity. If Matt Campbell had ever held a position of any consequence in state government, he’d know that.
Someone who reads (or even distributes by email) political news stories hasn’t even started to engage in political activity, any more than someone who reads news stories about bank robberies has started to become a bank robber. It’s too bad that Matt Campbell is utterly ignorant of this basic concept. For someone to be subject to the charge of “political activity on state time,” their actions would need to be just a bit more narrowly focused on a concrete political goal than distributing a couple of articles from that day’s newspaper. Campbell’s suggestion that the employees of a state constitutional officer who are keeping themselves informed about state politics by reading news coverage are thereby doing work that has “absolutely nothing to do with the scope or duty” of the SoS’s office is, not to put too fine a point on it, hilariously stupid. How on earth did this guy pass the bar exam?
I understand that Matt likes to use his blog to subject Republicans to special scrutiny. He has every right to do that, but he’s trying a little too hard here. That’s why his blog serves as a kind of role model for relentless partisanship and political bigotry. Now maybe there’s someone in the Secretary of State’s office who is occasionally guilty of using a state phone or a state email account in order to gossip. But if that is a firing offense, you’d better expect thousands of state employees to be jobless very soon.
(Matt, if you’re reading this, take note: the underlined portions of this post, which consist of little more than self-congratulation and pointless adversarial expletives, do not actually constitute anything resembling a persuasive argument. I put in these underlined sentences to make a point about your style of writing, and you might ask yourself what portions of your posts generally are subject to a similar criticism.)
P.S. A source tells me that Matt Campbell is on the payroll of the Chinese Communist Party. I mean, after all, if Matt Campbell is allowed just to print any rumor that anyone tells him and credit it to “a source,” why can’t I just source the dream I had last night? Another source tells me, by the way, that every Tuesday Campbell eats three kittens for breakfast.