Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Can Bilbray Do The Right Thing?

Francine Busby’s campaign is keeping the heat on lobbyist Brian Bilbray over campaign ads being run in Bilbray’s behalf by the National Republican Congressional Committee. The Busby campaign, assisted by a group of North County Republicans plan to drop by Bilbray’s office this afternoon and ask him why in 1998 he “spoke out” against the very same type of NRCC ad that is being targeted at Busby today. His answer should be interesting.

A bipartisan group of residents of San Diego will deliver a letter to Lobbyist Brian Bilbray at his campaign office today at 1 p.m. demanding that Bilbray call for the slanderous ads against Francine Busby to come off the air. For five days, Bilbray has, as the North County Times Editorial Board wrote, “bobbed and weaved like the veteran politician he is.”

Just yesterday, it was discovered that in 1998 Bilbray spoke out against an independent expenditure ad being run against his opponent and within four days it was taken down. Bilbray’s spokesman at the time claimed it was “a bunch of hooey” (pdf) that candidates couldn’t speak out against independent expenditures.

While the Busby campaign is trying to meet with Bilbray face-to-face (to face), North County Times’ columnist, John Van Doorn is asking Bilbray to do the right thing and repudiate the NRCC ads.

Whatever the reasoning, the ads are dirty. One has to accept that Bilbray, a savvy former member of Congress and a Washington lobbyist, did not have a hand in them, or approve them, or even know about them in advance, as he and the national committee insist.

It would be unseemly to doubt him or them.

But Bilbray and his guys have seen the ads now. They're on the tube. If they have a shred of decency in them ---- if they want to get on a track leading away from the Cunningham quicksand and run a campaign that North County will be proud once again to call its own ---- they ought to call headquarters and tell the committee to stop already. Out here, the air is trying to cleanse itself.

Brian Bilbray has had plenty of time to do the right thing. Maybe he just doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong, ethical and unethical, moral and immoral anymore.