Thursday, November 30, 2006

Boycott Bell Ringers Because of Ken Svoboda?

by Kyle Michaelis
Lincoln Republican uses Salvation Army campaign to advance his own

Ken Svoboda, in his second term on Lincoln's city council and one of the two front-runners in this spring's mayoral race (with Democratic State Senator Chris Beutler), is the featured spokesman in a TV ad campaign for the Salvation Army's annual fundraising efforts.

Although I would not actually advocate boycotting the Salvation Army's bell ringers this Christmas season as they stand outside department stores in the cold, the possibility of a charity allowing itself to be used by a politician to raise his profile is very, very troubling this close to an election.

For all intents and purposes, this is free advertising for Svoboda's mayoral campaign - either on the Salvation Army's dime or masquerading as a public service announcment aired as a courtesy by Lincoln television stations. Either way, the ad is highly suspect and one can't help questioning the motives, the judgment, and the integrity of both Svoboda and the local Salvation Army.

There are so many things in life more important than politics but not to a candidate who's serious about winning four months out from an election. Believe it or not, city council representatives are not really household names. Getting on TV while being associated with Christmas and a popular charity at no expense is as great a deal as any politician could possibly ask.

It's too good of a deal if you ask me. I won't blame the bell ringers, who will still be welcome to my spare change, but Ken Svoboda and those responsible for airing this ad should have known better. Theirs is a terrible precedent that opens the door to all sorts of future abuses.


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