Sunday, March 19, 2006

Will We Elect A Liar as State Auditor?

by Kyle Michaelis

Mike Foley, Nebraska's king of single-issue automatons in the state legislature, is running unopposed for state auditor in the 2006 Republican primary and, so far, in the 2006 general election.

As an "appraiser" this job might seem a natural fit, but it's become painfully clear in recent days that this man does not have the integrity to serve as the people's watchdog in state government. Rather, Foley has been revealed not only as a dangerous zealot but as a fraud and a cheat - cutting corners, bending the truth, and lying when necessary to advance his extremist anti-abortion agenda.

This week, in one of the Unicameral's sadder displays of deceit and crooked intentions, Foley outright lied to his fellow state senators about his motivations for tinkering with the state budget to expand state funding of women's health programs to more health care providers than the 14 family planning agencies that now receive it.

Although the $520,000 in question was clearly designated for treatment of cervical cancer and sexually-transmitted diseases, critics immediately challenged Foley's proposal as a back-handed, yellow-bellied attempt to eliminate state funding to Planned Parenthood. Foley outright denied that his actions had anything to do with abortion or the abortion-related activities of the affected health care providers.

On Tuesday, twice winning approval of his supposedly innocent measure, Foley promised that his budget amendment "simply opens the door to other providers."

The Omaha World-Herald even reported, in no uncertain terms:
Foley, who opposes abortion, denied that he was motivated by abortion politics or a desire to steer money away from family planning agencies.

But wait. Not so fast. Only one day later, the World-Herald would report from private correspondence:
In a Wednesday e-mail addressed "Dear Friends," Foley said he found it "insulting" that Planned Parenthood of Nebraska and Council Bluffs receives state tax dollars, even though the money is not used for abortions.

"Planned Parenthood doesn't deserve any of our money and we need to start doing something about it," he wrote.

Foley said the budget amendment would "at least begin to cut into the disbursement of our tax dollars to Planned Parenthood," and he asked people to pray that the amendment would prevail.

Wow. Talk about playing both sides of an issue. Here, Foley proves himself totally willing to lie and tell people what they want to hear to fulfill his own political and religous agenda. That is a dangerous trait, indeed, for a man on the verge of becoming Nebraska's next state auditor. Every check and balance on state spending his office might offer would be immediately cast in a suspicious light, questionable not only for his motives but for his truthfulness as well.

To politicize women's health like this is the work of a truly sick individual. Frankly, a man who will lie to get his way when the lives of our mothers, sisters, and daugthers are on the line will lie about anything.

Other state senators acknowledge Foley's outrageous and disgusting betrayal. Sen. Ernie Chambers called Foley "a pious hypocrite," while Sen. Don Pederson, chair of the Appropriations Committee, admitted "I believe we were deliberately deceived."

Sen. Joel Johnson even felt it necessary to draw attention to Foley's sin, reminding of The Ten Commandments' teaching "Thou shalt not bear false witness."

What's more, Foley's agenda of lies is driven by far more than the abortion issue for which many supporters might actually seek to justify this deception. No, his agenda is far broader, more judgmental, and more burdensome to American women, going well beyond abortion to imposing gag orders on physicians with female patients.

The Lincoln Journal-Star quotes Foley declaring rumors that his real target was family planning services “nonsense.” He since admitted he doesn’t want state tax dollars going to any clinic that even offers information about abortion, prompting the Journal-Star to warn:
Withdrawal of funding would force some smaller family planning clinics in the state to close....

Rather than helping women, Foley’s amendment would damage the existing network of providers and leave women uncertain where to go for issues relating to contraception and reproductive health....

Duplicity should not be rewarded. The change in funding advocated by Foley is not in the best interests of women’s health in Nebraska.

Let me take it a little bit further and say what actually needs to be said - more than just his tactics, Mike Foley himself is not in the best interests of Nebraska. As a state senator, he has proven lacking in integrity - a traitor and a shame to his colleagues. That these dismal qualities would follow him into the state auditors' office is undoubted, as is the fact that Foley would likewise pervert the entire machinery of that office to advance the outrageous and unprincipled agenda to which he has so single-mindedly devoted his legislative career.

This man is not fit for higher office. I only hope someone with the credentials and passion to offer a reasonable alternative agrees and is willing to do something about it.

2006 is our chance to de-Foley-ate. If Nebraska doesn't take it, after sinful and sickening conduct such as that described above, who can say when (or if) we will ever get the opportunity again?


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