Jordan’s odd response to campaign scrutiny
Last week, Democratic candidate for governor Paulette Jordan appeared in front of the Idaho Falls City Club.
She had recently been battered by word that her top three staffers had departed and by an Idaho Statesman story that her former campaign manager claimed Jordan was focused on building a political action committee rather than running to win.
According to Nathan Brown of the Idaho Falls Post Register, the first few questions before the I.F. City Club focused on these issues.
Rather than opening up, Jordan blasted the press and claimed she was a victim.
Here is what she specifically said according to Brown:
“You know the media really lack integrity with the Statesman, it’s unfortunate. But given that, the lack of integrity has certainly misconstrued the reality of anything.”
“These sort of questions, I think, come with the whole standard of being the first of anything. First woman in our state, which is wholly our responsibility to make happen. But what I’ve found out is the bigger you become in name and recognition, and I’ve been told we are a nationally recognized leader and people are really looking to us across the world to make a difference, not only in our state and our country but literally across the globe. I find there’s a lot of responsibility in that. And so, when there are small little shifts, which are very common, people will certainly exploit that shift.”
She also claimed that making campaign staff sign non-disclosure statements is common in politics.
I’ve been around political campaigns for decades both in and out of Idaho. I’ve never heard of any campaign employing such restrictive agreements until recent reports that Trump did in 2016 — and Paulette Jordan this year.
They are used in the business world to protect corporate secrets and minimize raiding by ex-employees of clients and staff. They are highly unusual in the campaign context. What on earth could Jordan’s campaign employees have learned that requires legal consequences for post-employment chatter? The easy way to put this issue to rest is to announce that no such agreements will be enforced. Instead of doing that, Paulette Jordan justified her use of them last week.
And what element of the Idaho Statesman report showed a lack of integrity? The clear implication was that winning is but a secondary goal of the Jordan campaign. I’m sure that is a surprise to Democratic voters who cast a pro-Jordan vote during the May primary and the 12,000 supporters who have made individual contributions. They are owed an explanation.
The whole woman thing is a bit off balance. She is not the first female Idaho major party nominee for governor. That was Rachael Gilbert on the Republican side in 1990. If she means she deserves to win simply because of her sex, that itself is offensive.
What evidence is there that Paulette Jordan is being excessively scrutinized because of her gender? She tried to imply that Brad Little wasn’t facing the same kind of questions because he is male. That is another distraction. Little hasn’t lost much of his campaign staff nor has he gagged them from talking if they leave.
The massive, still dangling question is why is Jordan running an apparently half-hearted effort? We are approaching the final six weeks and still no Jordan television commercials, radio spots, online ads, direct mail or newspaper advertisements. Her public schedule is limited at best. Something is fundamentally wrong and last week’s deflection at the Idaho Falls City Club didn’t put anything substantive to rest.
Jordan is not in trouble because the media is unfair or that she is a woman. She is struggling because she still refuses to be completely straight with the people of Idaho.
A few moments of public clarity without blame or diversion would be refreshing and chart a path forward for Paulette Jordan. Failure to do so will prove fatal.
Steve Taggart is an Idaho Falls attorney specializing in bankruptcy (www.MaynesTaggart.com). He has an extensive background in politics and public policy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column originally appeared on idahpoliticsweekly.com.