Our Revolution Responds

Edward Fischman of Our Revolution Montgomery County responds to yesterday’s post:

Adam Pagnucco wrote a piece here in The Seventh State that starts with a legal conclusion that isn’t clear. It accuses Brandy Brooks’ campaign of breaking the law. Ms. Brooks has discussed the matter with the State Board of Elections and has obtained definitive guidance on how to achieve the charitable goals she set out to accomplish with her Power 100 promotion.

I am writing because Mr. Pagnucco’s piece curiously dragged me into the matter, because I shared her promotion in a post on social media (editor’s note: posted above). We are in a strange era where the act of sharing a post on Facebook post becomes news in itself. So be it.

There is an important lesson or two in these events. First, politics is a game played for keeps. Those of us who have become involved in grassroots organizing may be unprepared for the consequences, but it seems we must be careful about what we share in social media when we are promoting a cause or a candidate we are interested in. If we embellish in sharing a candidate’s own carefully crafted online postings, we must be careful that we are not misstating anything or we risk hurting the cause, organization or candidate we wish to promote. I goofed.
There must be, however, a concomitant obligation for those who seek to be opinion-makers and newsmakers in blogging about politics. Mr. Pagnucco’s piece used my mistake to call out Brandy Brooks’ campaign. That was without basis in fact, fairness or good sense. Even a cursory effort to inquire would have led Mr. Pagnucco in a different direction.

After I posted in a Facebook group to share Ms. Brooks well-intended fundraising effort to facilitate charitable donation by her supporters, one councilmember helpfully raised a concern to me about it. That accomplished two things. First, it forced me to look at what I’d written and realize that I’d badly mischaracterized Ms. Brooks’ own promotion of this effort. I corrected that within an hour of the original posting — and noted that I was correcting my own error.

The other thing that this councilmember’s outreach achieved was it spurred me to find a way to connect with Ms. Brooks campaign to raise that councilmember’s concerns about whether Ms. Brooks’ page adequately explained the program in a way that would be one hundred percent kosher. By the end of the day, I had managed to make contact and share the concern. The next day — Saturday — I also sought the candidate at a public event over the weekend, to make sure she understood why I thought it was important for them to speak to the State Board of Elections to make certain the effort was conducted consistently with state financing laws and regulations.

I am impressed with Brandy Brooks’ candidacy. I have no role with the campaign, and certainly do not represent her. Mr. Pagnucco wrote it was “unclear” if I am connected with the campaign. There’s an unspoken implication that i might be. Whatever his role in writing on this site, Mr. Pagnucco has worked in journalism and should know better. He could have asked me — or asked the Brooks campaign — about whether I was connected to the campaign, and about the nature of my post. I would have told him that I did not know Brandy Brooks 2 months ago and before this and interacted with her less than an handful of times. Also, I could have pointed out to him that I had revised my Facebook pose, to correct my error in describing the Power 100 effort.

My description was a mistake, but it is no way newsworthy. I was deeply concerned when I realized what I’d mistakenly described the campaign’s proposal for the donations — but thought I’d done very little harm, as it received one “Like,” before I corrected it. Finding my error reposted at the Seventh State is…both surprising and embarrassing, but my reputation is not my aim in writing here. I do not want my error to reflect badly on Brandy Brooks’ campaign.

After the piece was published, Brandy reached out to me to tell me not to worry about any of this — and thanked for me trying to be helpful in sharing information about the opportunity to support her campaign and charities she felt worthy. She has explained to me what steps she is taking to remain compliant with Maryland’s campaign financing laws.

More importantly though, she has shown me incredible grace and empathy, reaffirming my initial impressions of her. Grace and empathy are qualities that too often seem missing in our society in our politics and in our government. These were the qualities that motivated Ms. Brooks’ intention to encourage charitable support for disaster victims.
Those of us who opine in public forums could all use an injection of grace and empathy. That should be our starting point. When those qualities are replaced by cynicism, we are all made smaller.