Guest Opinion: Group doesn't appear nonpartisan from outside

In a recent guest editorial, Bob Ballou mused, "What's a voter to do? How do you separate the political smoke from the character and core values of these candidates?" He then goes on to tout the virtues of a group called Citizens for Accountable Government saying, "Totally nonpartisan and thoroughly unbiased, this organization of concerned citizens assembled a group of retired and semi-retired Douglas County residents " all professional people with many years of executive experience in major corporations or nonprofit organizations " to conduct team interviews with all the commissioner candidates and share the results with voters so you have more than campaign promises on which to judge the merits of each."

Based on Mr. Ballou's description, this is a noble endeavor to provide unbiased information to the voters so they can make better decisions regarding the commissioner candidates. But let's look a little closer.

The group is registered as a political action committee with our Secretary of State.

The stated purpose of this political action committee is "to search out, support and elect qualified candidates to the Douglas County Board of Commissioners." That does not sound like an organization that is going to provide unbiased information to voters. A quick check on the Internet reveals that Gary Pyle serves as the treasurer for the group and for the Sustainable Growth Committee. There is no question that SGC has a political agenda. After serving 14 years as your assemblyman, I can assure you that people don't volunteer to serve as the treasurer of a PAC because it is fun. They do it to achieve a political end.

Read the first paragraph above again. Do you see any mention of employees, employers, farmers and ranchers? How about teachers, fire or police, a member of the chamber of commerce or the Douglas County Business Council? No. What you see is an elite group of "professional people with many years of executive experience in major corporations or nonprofit organizations" who have anointed themselves to think and act for the voters of Douglas County.

In Mr. Ballou's guest editorial he mentions that six candidates participated in the group's interviews, meaning that the other candidates did not. This of course leaves the door open for group to label the other candidates as "refused" or "non-participating' in their summary. If their goal was truly to provide information to the public, why wouldn't they just send all the questions to every candidate and accept and publish any information they could get?

Personally, I believe the group should voluntarily include the following disclaimer on any information they provide to be disseminated in Douglas County:

"Citizens for Accountable Government is a political action committee registered with the state of Nevada. Our stated purpose is to influence the outcome of the Douglas County Commissioner elections. The information published herein is based on our rules and criteria."

Frankly, since there is no way CAG can realistically claim to be unbiased given their state registration as a PAC with a stated purpose " search out, support and elect..." I believe CAG should pay to publish any information they wish to disseminate. Otherwise, in my opinion, every candidate and PAC must be given equal free space and opportunity to publish their own views and information.

I urge each of you to think and act for yourselves. Read the political mailers, they usually take only a few moments. Talk to your friends. Talk to the candidates at forums or if they come to your door. Read the paper and look around you as you travel in Douglas County. The strength of our system depends on the participation of our citizens.

Vote. Brave young men and women are fighting and dieing to preserve your right to vote. Honor their sacrifice and vote in the primary election and the general election. You will determine the future of Douglas County.

- Lynn Hettrick is Douglas County's former representative in the Nevada Assembly and a Gardnerville resident.


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