Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt. – Abraham Lincoln
Despite whatever the spin doctors, reputation rescuers, and crisis management teams might tell you, whenever a public or elected official gets caught with his or her pants down, there are but two effective responses.
Unless you’re George Santos and you’ve become the story, the first and most efficient strategy is simple silence, particularly if any potential excuse would sound a lot worse than “The dog at my homework.”
Why does silence work so well? Because the print media no longer has the horses to pursue a story beyond the first report, and if you manage to keep your mouth shut long enough, the story will simply die. The inherent problem with this strategy, however, is while most politicians realize they have the right to remain silent, very few are capable of it.
The second and even better response is a heartfelt mea culpa along the lines of:
I know I really screwed up this time and I apologize to my supporters and constituents for the lapse. Rest assured, I’ve learned from this experience, I’ve grown as a person, and I promise I’ll do better going forward.
Unless we’re talking about a major criminal act, once you’ve admitted fault and taken responsibility, there’s nowhere left for the story to go. For reference purposes, Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham is the master of this form of mea culpa.
Anything beyond those two possibilities only serves to set the elected/public official up for a journalistic round two, which is always worse than the first.
So, when Elgin city councilman and mayoral hopeful Corey Dixon ignored my requests for comment on his $6,800 in Illinois State Board of Elections campaign financing fines, it was a smart move. When you’ve blown it that badly any pretext would come across as entirely disingenuous.
Ah! But when the Tribune’s Elgin Courier-News picked up the story, our intrepid mayoral candidate couldn’t resist issuing a response via a statement ostensibly authored by his political committee. Per our second “only an apology will work” postulate, all that absurd declaration did was give the story a new life.
“It was a miscommunication,” the councilman said!
A “miscommunication?” “Was I was supposed to pick the kids up from school today?,” is a miscommunication. “I though the project deadline was next week,” is a miscommunication. “You mean I was supposed to amputate the left foot?,” is a miscommunication. But four straight years of persistently late campaign finance reports isn’t “a miscommunication,” it’s a choice.
As one of my favorite elected officials told me, “If I don’t dot my I’s and cross my T’s correctly, I’ll find an ISBE warning waiting in my mailbox within days.” Not to mention that Dixon already paid off $1,200 of those fines, which is a clear indication that he was aware of his perpetual tardiness.
So, “a miscommunication?” No!
I’d say that’s one of the worst political excuses I’ve ever heard, but as I continued reading his statement, I swiftly realized that it wasn’t nearly as bad as the next one. Dixon claimed that he showed “remarkable leadership and integrity in response to these issues,” and demonstrated, “his commitment to accountability and ensuring his campaign’s compliance.”
What word do you use when “chutzpah” and “audacity” aren’t nearly enough? I suppose I’ll resort to two TV judges who aptly noted, “Ni tu memo te lo creen,” or “Not even you believe what you’re saying,” and “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.”
“Remarkable leadership?” The vast irony there is the predominantly progressive Dixon pulled a page form the Trump playbook for that one. And “commitment to accountability?” If by “commitment” he meant something along the lines of Bill Clinton’s marriage then I’m on board.
He capped off his statement off with this:
I believe that by requiring candidates and campaigns to publicly disclose information about their contributions and expenditures, voters are empowered to make informed decisions, and campaigns are held accountable to the law and ethical standards.
The only thing missing is the Elgin church choir humming “Battle Hymn of the Republic” in the background. And no, he doesn’t! Because if Dixon actually believed what he wrote he would’ve made the appropriate adjustments after the first fine – not after the seventh.
This sad scenario is a perfect example of why silence is far better than “speaking and removing all doubt.” Had Dixon simply shut up, there would’ve been nothing more to say. Had he issued a real apology for this stupid mistake, the story would’ve ended there.
But if you choose to release an ill-advised piece of political fiction that provides the press with all the ammunition they need to keep the story going, then that’s exactly what’ll happen. This column is the best proof of that possibility.
All that said, I do agree with Dixon’s contention that “By requiring candidates and campaigns to publicly disclose information about their contributions and expenditures, voters are empowered to make informed decisions.” Because the educated decision in this mayoral race is to reelect Dave Kaptain.
2 thoughts on “Corey Dixon digs himself into a deeper hole”
I do hope you take deserved credit for this story ever seeing the light of day in the Courier News. Dixon’s response is priceless: “remarkable leadership and integrity in response to these issues,”!!! Demonstrating disregard and disdain for the rules is remarkable leadership and integrity!!!! Wow!
The DH is much to woke to allow a story like this to ever see the light of day.
Particularly because I sent the story to the Courier-News’ Gloria Casas, I will take credit for that. But it would be nice if they gave me credit for breaking the story. The greater point, however, was for the story to get in front of as many folks as possible.
As far as the DH goes, things are so bad between those editors and me that they won’t touch a story that broke. Perhaps it’s because they feel they would ethically have to give me credit and that’s the last thing they want to do.