This morning, as expected, Sen. Norm Coleman’s campaign filed an unfair campaign practices complaint against Al Franken’s campaign for “falsely and knowingly” accusing Coleman if being “fourth-most corrupt senator in Washington” (or, in another ad, “in America.”)
I’m going to repeat somthing I mentioned in Daily Glean this morning: While the organization that judged Coleman thusly — Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington — may be a “liberal front group” as the Coleman campaign alleges, the “fourth-most” ranking is accurate.
There was some dissembling on this point at this morning’s press conference (video below). Coleman spokesman Mark Drake noted — accurately — that CREW doesn’t list Coleman among its Top 20.
The Top 20 contains three senators: Democrat Mary Landrieu and Republicans Mitch McConnell and Ted Stevens.
However, there are four “dishonorable mentions,” and Coleman is the only senator listed. Thus, it is accurate to call Coleman the “fourth most corrupt.”
But is it misleading? Here, the Coleman folks are on firmer ground, though not necessarily firm enough for an upholdable campaign-practices complaint.
Remember, CREW has filed an ethics complaint about Coleman’s D.C. rent deal, but there’s been no ruling. It may be baseless, or not.
Coleman spokesman Mark Drake contests CREW’s claims to bipartisanship, noting board members’ Franken contributions and staff appearances on the Democrat’s Air America radio show.
As final proof of CREW’s one-sidedness, Drake contends any Democrats on CREW list are there as “window dressing.” But what percentage constitutes curtains and drapes?
The Top 20 list features six Democrats, including House powers Charlie Rangel, John Murtha and William Jefferson. That’s 30 percent. If you throw in the dishonorable mentions, Democrats account for 29 percent.
Too low? Perhaps. But consider an objective comparison: Sourcewatch lists 23 current or recently former congressfolk under investigation by congressional ethics committees or law enforcement.
Five of the 23 are Democrats. That’s 22 percent. CREW actually lists a higher percentage of suspect Dems than the courts and committees do.
Video of the press conference, courtesy of The Uptake, below: