I had wanted to see the first debate between the Republican candidates for the 1st Congressional District, Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White and State Senator Joe Carraro, but both my kids had early basketball games and politics takes a backseat to family commitments.
Based on news reports, it looks like the most controversial part of the debate occurred before the candidates ever took the stage:
A Republican candidate for Congress objected publicly Saturday when the organizer of a county GOP forum that he and another Republican congressional candidate attended was closed to the media.
“It’s a public meeting between two candidates for public office in a public place and it’s closed to the media. What are you afraid of?” State Sen. Joe Carraro, who is seeking the GOP nomination in the 1st District, said after the meeting. “It needs to be transparent. We need to not go behind closed doors.”
The Republican Party of Bernalillo County sponsored the meeting, which was attended mostly by GOP volunteers and activists and was held at an Albuquerque restaurant.
Ok, normally I would be the first one to agree that all debates by candidates for public office should be open. But, here is the thing. According to the meeting organizer, former State Representative Rory Ogle, both candidates agreed to a “no press” rule:
Ogle said he talked personally with Carraro and White about the rules ahead of time. Carraro denied that he agreed to closing the meeting ahead of time.
Sorry Senator Carraro you’re lacking a bit of credibility here. I personally know all three parties involved and only the Senator’s story rings untrue. If Senator Carraro had truly objected to the closed meeting ahead of time, he had ample opportunity to raise that objection long before that meeting took place.
Instead, he waited until the morning of the event to try and leverage some earned media by playing the part of the injured party and defender of open government. The problem is that no one is going to believe that Sheriff Darren White, a former news reporter who has never shied away from a little camera time, was personally against press attending the event. Plus, meeting organizer, Rory Ogle, had absolutely no reason to lie.
Senator Carraro’s antics leave much to be desired and raise serious ethical questions regarding his personal integrity and character.
Disclaimer: I have made a financial contribution to Darren White’s campaign.