I hate to return to a familiar campaign theme, but here’s another shameful use of religion on the campaign trail. Republican Ed Martin is the running against Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan in Missouri. Martin, a Catholic, used to work for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. A weird website purporting to expose “The Real Ed Martin” tried to smear him with involvement in sex-abuse scandals in the Church, going as far as posting his wedding announcement as supposed evidence of some kind of long-term conspiracy to cover up his sinister ties to scandal in the Church.
“I worked for the Catholic Church doing education and advocacy about charity and service to our community,” Martin said in a statement. “I had zero involvement or authority on the adjudication or disposition of those accused of crimes or wrongdoing.”
Dragging the issue of pastoral abuse into the political arena, Martin said, is a “heartbreaking tactic.”
“This is not being done to pursue justice, healing or reckoning,” Martin said. “It is a vulgar attempt to maintain power by an unpopular politician.”
While the Carnahan campaign hasn’t denounced the site, it denies having any ties to it, and one of the site’s researchers backs them up on that denial. Michael Corwin, who has received money from a media firm hired by the Carnahan campaign, says he presented the “Real” research to the campaign and was rejected, so he posted it independently. Corwin (who has done work for NBC) claims that the campaign was afraid the strategy would “jeopardize the Catholic vote.”
BigJournalism.com has more on Corwin and collaborators and the state of journalism.
In this game of guilt by association — or even baptism? — the Carnahan campaign should denounce the site. Unless, of course, it wants it actually wanted it out there, but didn’t have the nerve to put its name on it.