I called the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission yesterday to try and answer a question from a caller about political endorsements. The question was, “Must a candidate get endorsements in writing in order to use them in campaign materials?”
The answer, from the PDC’s Lori Anderson, was “no.” There is no law requiring a written statement of endorsement.
Which got me wondering about how endorsements are made. So I ran this hypothetical situation by Kitsap County Auditor Karen Flynn, “What if a person received a call from a political candidate (or a member of the candidates campaign staff)? What if the person knew and liked the candidate, perhaps even well enough to vote for them, but, for whatever reason — perhaps feeling the need to learn more about the other candidate or the issues in play — did not feel in a position to give a ringing endorsement? What if the person never actually said ‘yes,’ but never actually said ‘no,” and then later they see their name on the candidate’s campaign literature under the heading of endorsements?”
Flynn recommended a common sense approach. Even if there isn’t a law requiring written endorsements, she said, she would strongly encourage people seeking endorsements to get them in writing. Candidates who fail to do so are only putting themselves and their campaign at risk, she said, because hypothetically speaking, if someone on the endorsement list had a beef with their name being on there, they could make the candidate look less than trustworthy. “The danger is to the candidate’s credibility,” said Flynn.
Question of the day: How much do endorsements mean to you when you assess a candidate’s qualifications for office?