Shady Dealings

Mayor Fenty has been one of Senator Obama's biggest supporters. When he made that quixotic trip to convince New Hampshire politicians to apologize for not supporting DC voting rights, he was also taking to the streets for the junior Illinois senator. When it came time for the Potomac Primary, Fenty was out in the streets of DC waving Obama '08 signs.

Which is all well and good and perhaps preferable. An elected official getting so involved in the process and displaying such passion is likely to encourage others to go out and vote.

Then DCist reported that Mayor Fenty broke electioneering laws by publicly supporting a candidate in a voting place. You'd think an elected official would be pretty well versed in electioneering laws. I'm sure that a little over a year ago he was instructing his supporters not to cross any lines they weren't supposed to. Now, he's willing to bend break the rules for his candidate of choice. I just don't think it was an honest mistake.

Fenty's press secretary handled the issue marvelously and I filed the incident away until I got an e-mail this morning complaining about Fenty's alleged offense. This time, I actually bothered to read the story on Slate that DCist was linking to. And it's worse than DCist implied.

The mayor extended his hand, smiled, and asked if I was going to vote. When I responded in the affirmative, he asked, “Barack Obama?” After saying something inarticulate like, “Uh, OK,” I went in and cast my ballot. By the time I emerged, Fenty had disappeared. That’s when I realized that the mayor had been standing directly between two signs that demarcated a no-electioneering zone.

Reading DCist, I thought that Fenty was merely someplace he shouldn't have been in support of his candidate. An honest mistake for your average sign-waver, maybe a little more suspicious from an elected official. But Fenty was actually engaging in voters and subtly pressuring them to vote for his candidate.

The person who e-mailed me put it thusly:

...jesus christ- doesn't he even know that its wrong for ANYONE to ask you who you are going to vote for let alone an elected official in a position of authority????

Yeah, I'd say that hits the nail on the head. Fenty's alleged actions jumped from inappropriate to wildly inappropriate. The most powerful man in Washington was pressuring people to vote for a certain candidate inside a polling place. That has the power to sway voters. And Fenty knows that's against the rules. The rule of law and the rule of political etiquette.

I'd say, at the very least, an apology is in order.


  1. Funny you mentioned this; I almost included my run-in with Fenty in my post from yesterday. Fenty was standing just outside the entrance (and NOT within the election erring area) of my polling location yesterday. This was 1030am @ Bancroft School in precinct 40, Mt. Pleasant. He just shook my hand and thanked me for voting. He made no mention of Obama or my choice for the candidacy. I was somewhat surprised to see him, however. He just smiled a lot, stared me down and shook my hand….quite vigorously. I know the name of his game ….silent coercion!!!!

  2. In fairness, if we are going to be literal here, it looks like Mayor Fenty was deliberately avoiding breaking the rules.

    If all he did was ask whether someone was voting Obama or not, I don't know if I'd call that "advocacy."

    He knows the line is, and he crept right up to it, did a dance on it, and leapt back.

  3. I'm all about him being involved in a campaign, but he's been so far up Obama's ass since the campaign heated up. It's pretty easy to see where his sights are set.

  4. Yeah I'm an Obama supporter (see last thread) and Fenty was creeping me out on CNN last night when he was talking about him. The three words that kept running through my head were "easy there blacksnake", or is that four words...

  5. oh sour grapes, rusty. you're just pissed that Billary has lost momemtum towards their third term.

  6. Heh, I was telling friends out of the area about the striking photos of Fenty and Obama striding through DC, all powerful looking and such. And when they were done asking who the hell Fenty is, they said, "Is it common for the mayor of DC to have his (very shiny, very bald) head inserted quite that far up a presidential candidate's ass?" And I said, "Hell if I know, politics isn't really an interest of mine." and the conversation devolved into an argument about politics being more important than the sociological aspect of this race...and, well. Politics are boring. Me slipping on the ice and almost dying, that's a good story. Am I still talking? Sorry.

  7. I'm willing to bet my cat that if he had been campaigning for Hillary, you wouldn't have published this entry.