Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Words Really Do Matter

Last Thursday I blogged about the conservative organization Wisconsin Institute for Leadership (WIL), and its Executive Director Brian Fraley. I openly wondered if it was appropriate that he forwarded a campaign email including his own note that Department of Public Instruction candidate Rose Fernandez is “worthy of your support”. As the head of a 501c4 nonprofit, this came dangerously close to crossing some important lines in my opinion. In that blog I also wondered if this was a sign that he was preparing to go to work for the Fernandez campaign. Later that same day we learned that he in fact was taking leave from WIL to become her campaign manger. Fraley responded to my blog in the comments section but didn’t fully address the issue.

Fraley seems to be suggesting that his forwarding of the Fernandez Campaign email and commenting that she was “worthy of your support” was personal. I am frankly surprised that he would not see the importance of his words whether his email was technically personal or not. His own business website states the following:

"The words you use to convey your thoughts can make or break a political
campaign...At the Markesan Group, one of our first tasks for clients is to
develop lists of which key words you should use, and which killer words to

Words do matter and that idea does not just extend to political campaigns or to his own private clients. It also extends to him, in his position as WIL executive director. I would suggest that the words “worthy of your support” when talking about a candidate for public office are “killer” words in this context. Now that he has actually gone to work for that campaign, the importance of his words while acting as WIL Executive Director should be amplified ten-fold.

Fraley’s December email is not the only area of question between WIL and the Fernandez Campaign. Also in December and again last week the Daily Takes Twitter account mentions Fernandez and promotes her campaign’s You Tube video. Although this Twitter account is named after Fraley’s blog, it also bears a WIL logo at the top. Even if we are to explain away the email (which I assume didn’t include a WIL logo), exactly what is the explanation for this?

At the very least these issues blur some very important lines. In this specific case the blurred lines should call into question any advocacy from WIL surrounding the upcoming Department of Public Instruction election and Rose Fernandez in particular. Given the entire context, how could WIL be taken seriously? I agree with the Markesan Group that words really do matter, and that includes the use of the word “independent.”

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