Water(hen) Gate – 10 BIG Problems with the False Lingenfelter Memberships

Just trying to summarize points I'm seeing all over the place about Link's Water(hen)Gate scandal (kudos to KS on Facebook for the name) – on blogs, on CBC news stories and other wire stories from across Canada among various other sources. 

This is getting to be a pretty big scandal and if the NDP make a decision about how to proceed tomorrow, I hope they keep these facts in mind…

1. Link's explanation that they were submitted by an “over-zealous” campaign worker seems fishy at best – especially since Accidental Deliberations reports that the Lingenfelter campaign has taken responsiblity for paying for all $11 000 worth of these memberships.  What did Link tell his campaign volunteers?  “Sign up anyone and everyone you can and if they can't pay, we'll cover it?”  Jesus.  I mean, luckily I was only “zealous” in selling memberships for Ryan instead of “over-zealous” – if so, I might have signed up everybody in my neighbourhood then gone knocking on their doors to tell them after June 6!

2. Okay, to be fair, NDP rules have a big loophole in them.  You are allowed to purchase memberships for people who can't otherwise afford them.  But you would expect that those memberships, if legitimately for people who couldn't otherwise afford them, would still need to be signed by the person whose name they were in.  Wouldn't the Lingenfelter campaign catch the small detail that they'd all been signed by a single person before submitting them to NDP HQ?  (See point 7 for more on this!)

3.  I'm not sure if this is truth or rumour but I read that all of these memberships came in, arranged alphabetically.  If that's true, that's yet another clue that something very fishy was going on that should've been caught by Link's campaign before the memberships were submitted.  If you ask me, organizational deficiencies like this (assuming it wasn't something worse – like being intentional submission of false information) don't reflect well on a man who has thirty years of experience and wants to be the leader of the party based, largely on that experience. 

4. Someone raised the concern that by the NDP going back to ask all of these people if they did intend to buy a membership in effect extends the membership deadline (someone who didn't intend to buy one might say “oh yeah, I did want one after all”) which does mean that party rules are technically being broken. 

5. Lingenfelter wasn't available for comment when this story first broke.  I know he was probably trying to find out what happened or get his story straight or plan the wording of his response but still, a brief comment about a scandal given the scope of what was revealed would've been appropriate I think.  To put it another way, not being available for comment is something that shouldn't happen in our current wired world where people are conditioned to reach anyone anytime anywhere via cell phones, Facebook, e-mail, etc.

6.  This part of his explanation from a CBC story really bugs me too: “'We have learned some hard lessons from this experience. However, the
only way to guarantee that a campaign will never make a mistake is to
have no campaign volunteers and to make no effort to bring new people
into the New Democratic Party.'”  Uhm, dude – a mistake is if I write the wrong date on one of the memberships I sell because I forget it's the 29th, not the 28th.  This is on a whole different plane where “mistake” is left behind and words like “fraud” and “criminal” start getting tossed around by observers instead.  Nice try to spin this as doing something positive though – man, old school politics everytime!  

7.  This whole CBC article has me shaking my head.  Another quote from the same article:  “Lingenfelter said his campaign signed up 6,000 members in total. In
addition to the 1,100 memberships in question, his campaign paid for
very few of the rest, he said.” 
You mean there are more paid-for memberships out there?  Numbers, please!

8.  Right-wingers are having a field day with this already and you can only imagine the election ads in 2011 from the Sask Party.  Ryan Meii's made the point at the Regina Forum that it's terrible when Brad Wall can even somewhat credibly stand up and say “hope beat fear” in the last election.  Now, will Brad Wall be able to say “Hope beats cheats” in the next one? 

9.  One of the memberships was sold to a brain-damaged former Canadian solider.  The Windsor Star picked up a Saskatoon Star Phoenix story which reports that one of the false memberships paid for and submitted by the Dwain Lingenfelter campaign was that of Clayton Matchee

Among the names on the list is Clayton Matchee, the former Canadian
soldier who last fall saw charges of torture and murder of a Somali
youth in 1993 dropped by the military because he was unfit to stand
trial due to brain damage. It was unclear whether Matchee had agreed to
join the party.

That last line seems to indicate that Matchee isn't completely brain damaged and may have still had capacity to purchase a membership.  But I wonder how likely that is considering that the Wikipedia article on Clayton Matchee indicates that he was found unfit for trial on more than one occasion and the Department of National Defense ruled that he would never be fit for trial.  I don't know – this one just sets off my “icky” alarm to a whole different level. 

10.  The fact that this story has been picked up by the Windsor Star (and probably other papers as well) means that our sleepy little leadership race, which could barely get coverage in the provincial mainstream media before this, is now going national – unfortunately, for the most embarrassing of reasons.

I really hope the NDP impose some serious sanctions on Link for this tomorrow – it's inexcusable as far as I'm concerned.

Comments 4

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    Not being available for comment is something that shouldn't happen when A) You are in the middle of a campaign and you are running for leader B) You are in the middle of a scandle C) You claim to be on your farm.
    I was shocked to hear Judy Junior on Newstalk this morning defending Link, because he was on his farm. Come On, no phone service.
    Link is carr ying a hell of a lot of baggage, more than the NDP could ever handle and the membershhip of the NDP is going to have to wear what is in those bags for the next 8 years, unless they elect someone fresh.

    Posted 06 May 2009 at 3:49 am
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Yeah, didn't the NDP *bring* phone service to all farms about fifty years ago?

    Posted 07 May 2009 at 9:29 pm
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    I have spent the last 6 hrs going all the info I can get. We need to step up before we are crushed. This province needs a strong oposition and new derection now or before it's to late.

    Posted 11 May 2009 at 7:26 am
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    Lots more has happened since your comment – I'm nervous but hopeful that NDP supporters will make the right decision. How can you help? If you're a lifelong NDP supporter, tell everyone you know how you're feeling!

    Posted 16 May 2009 at 1:21 pm
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