Thursday, May 05, 2005

Does Harry Have No Shame?

It's pathetic to see a politician in the twilight of a generally distinguished career of public service engaging in cheap and dirty tricks to maintain his office. Nevertheless, Manassas Delegate Harry Parrish --- who faces a primary challenge for the first time in his long career --- seems to be willing to tolerate just that among his campaign operatives.
One has to cull through many news reports to learn that Parrish operatives may be responsible for the recent legal troubles suffered by newcomer and GOP conservative challenger Steve Chapman, but the evidence is there.
Deviating from what has, irregularly, been local political coverage superior to that appearing in the area's 800-pound gorilla (the Washington Post), the report appearing in today's Potomac News merely parrots the accusations of Chapman supporters that suggest that Parrish's campaign might be responsible) . Prince William Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert (D) apparently deflected the question, never really answering it, and the Potomac News' reporter let him get away with it.
The story in the Washington Times delved further into the subject, and reveals that the source of the investigation and the attack may well have been longtime campaign professional and Parrish operative Kenny Klinge. The Post's reporter --- who did not talk to Ebert --- quotes Klinge, who denied that the campaign hired a private investigator, but admitted that he took "some information" to the county commonwealth's attorney's office after becoming convinced there was "something amiss" with Mr. Chapman's residency. He then notes that he did so without any prompting from Parrish.
Well, gee, isn't that special? Klinge gave Harry just what he wanted --- deniability --- and it's probably true that Harry didn't know about it in advance. But doesn't it say something about the man that he hired Klinge, and that Klinge involved himself in the smear?
It's never a good idea to move into a district simply to run. That's something that I've said before in print, and something I probably told Steve Chapman.
At the same time, it's one thing to move from downtown D.C. to Farmville to run, and another entirely to move across a county. With that having been said, I have no reason to doubt the legitimacy of Chapman's move and his residency.
What is more disturbing is the fact that Harry Parrish is so reticent to run on ideas and principles, but instead enlists the aid of the likes of Alexandria Republican Kenny Klinge to smear a young candidate. It says much about his continuing qualifications for office. Klinge's recent activities demonstrate that he is or has become the kind of Republican that inspires monikers like "Repubmocrat" and "RINO" (for Republican In Name Only). A quick websearch reveals his primary recent activities in trying to soak the taxpayer for more money. And he is the Boyish Governor's appointee to the Commonwealth Transportation Board and the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. The latter is the group created to push for and spend (if passed) the tax increase that Mark Warner promised he wouldn't seek. No wonder Klinge's working for Harry.
And it's no surprise that Harry doesn't want to run on his record. After all, the highlight of his last term was the betrayal of Republican fiscal discipline and friendliness to the taxpayer, signing on to the Boyish Governor's unnecessary billion-dollar tax increase.
Some record. Some candidate.
At the same time, Harry can salvage some dignity from the situation. He must first demand full and immediate disclosure from his campaign operative, Kenny Klinge. The voters have a right to know if this campaign flack hired a private investigator to lurk about Steve Chapman's residence. Parrish should also immediately terminate the services of Mr. Klinge.
But most importantly, he should demand that the Commonwealth's Attorney's office immediately dismiss all charges against Steve Chapman.


Anonymous said...

A private detective was in fact rooting around for dirt on Steve Chapman, including asking for a private company's board minutes. Steve served on this company's board.

Great commentary Jim, keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Jim, you provide an excellent commentary on an important issue. Thank you.

Thanks also for the opportunity to provide an observation of my own. While I don't live in Delegate Harry Parrish's district, I have had the opportunity to hear about his work. The comments I have heard are kind of sad. Whenever I hear someone praise Delegate Parrish, it is about stuff he did years ago. Unfortunately, his accomplishments of late bear little relationship to the distinguished record he built in the past.

However honorable their service in the past, the public cannot afford to award high political office to has-beens, and I think this is why Delegate Parrish has a primary challenger this year.

While he is undeniably showing signs of his age, Delegate Parrish strikes me as still quite capable. Thus I do not think his age explains his recent poor performance either as delegate or in this campaign. Instead, I expect Delegate Parrish has been in office too long; he has forgotten the original reasons why he ran for political office.

I suppose it is far too much to expect, but I wish Delegate Parish would take a different tack. He should have never allowed his underlings to attack his opponent’s integrity. Instead, Delegate Parish should be thanking Steve Chapman for challenging him. From time to time we all need to be forced to reassess what we are doing. Hopefully, Delegate Parrish will see the need to reassess his performance and refrain from further mud slinging.

Tom Salmon
Gainesville, VA