"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

A line or two too far

Idaho Republican Representative Bill Sali has piled up a mass of items useful for his Democratic opponents to dig into, and they have been. The state party has been releasing, one by one, “30 reasons Idaho votes don’t want Bill Sali,” and quite a few are solid and substantive; most are policy driven, and relate to what he’s done as a candidate and congressman.

So you have wonder about the impulse to release Sali’s, and his wife’s, social security numbers on a statewide attack flyer, sent and approved by the Idaho Democratic Party.

As reporter Betsy Russell describes it: “The flier faults Sali for past financial problems, including state and federal tax liens filed against him in 1988, and his continuing campaign debt. The flier shows parts of two tax liens; on one, both Social Security numbers are visible.”

The ongoing campaign debt is certainly fair game. But personal liens from 1988, as in two decades ago? (If he’s had no similar problems since then, most people probably would consider the matter closed, especially since those particular debts apparently were paid.) And Social Security numbers? At the least, those could have been blacked out, and the public learned nothing with their disclosure. His spokesman Wayne Hoffman suggested, “I think the party bears a certain responsibility if Mr. or Mrs. Sali’s identities are stolen following this.”

These are rugged political days. But they don’t have to be this rugged.

Share on Facebook