Just last Thursday Ron Sparks' campaign referred to Left in Alabama as “an impartial progressive blog.” Nice, but it didn't last!
Team Sparks' latest missive slams countrycat — one of our best, most fair-minded and principled writers — for plagiarism and calls her an “idiot.” Brian has posted the entire Sparks press release here, so I'll just give you a tiny sample of the snark level of Ron Sparks' PROFESSIONAL communications team:
The response comes straight from the crack Davis research staff as cut and pasted by some blogger called CatPaw, or SunDog, or MadCow. (Face it, ain't no blogger got the time to come up with THAT post.)
Yes, Ron Sparks actually paid someone to write that screed and sent it out to professional news media across the state. How embarrassing for his donors. At least they gave us a link.
What is Team Sparks talking about?
Countrycat's post from last Friday: What is Ron Sparks Selling? Which she apparently couldn't have written & researched herself because bloggers just don't spend that kind of time on their work. Pure, unadulterated BS!
Yes, that post absolutely took a lot of time, and I have a news flash for Ron Sparks and his communications team: Many blog posts take a lot of time — see this, this, this, this for examples of time consuming articles written by Alabama bloggers. I spent about 15 hours on that last one, for no compensation whatsoever, and the candidate has turned out to be a disappointment, too! We're blogging because we care about good government, because we want to see accurate information find an audience and because it needs doing, and we care enough to sacrifice our own personal time doing it. If someone buys a blogad or makes a contribution, that's great, but no one below Markos is doing this for anything but love.
Ron Sparks has decided to pick a fight with the media and almost any media outlet will do. Last Thursday night in Huntsville, he went after the Birmingham News for questioning his campaign loan. We're flattered he thinks this blog is so influential as to be among the first he needs to discredit, and countrycat is particularly pumped to be at the top of his $%# list, given the reams of positive posts she's written about him over the years. No good deed goes unpunished, as they say.
As we've already pointed out, communications from Ron Sparks have sunk to the level of a C-list blog — a seemingly endless stream of name calling, baseless attacks and unsubstantiated allegations. No reputable news outlet will touch the juvenile tripe they've been sending out about their opponent, so now Sparks is attacking a pseudonymous blogger, a case of “punching down” if ever there was one. Brian is right, this is how to tell your campaign is off the rails, 101.
The Sparks accusations against countrycat are completely baseless.
The plagiarism charge is made up out of whole cloth, or perhaps desperation. Believe me, if we reprint something from a campaign, you know it's from the campaign! Look for the blue boxes.
Countrycat did the digging for that piece herself at Opensecrets.org. Notice she meticulously linked to source material, something the Sparks communication team should do more often; their links are scarcer than hen's teeth, possibly because they have no source material. She called me Friday and we went over it line by line — you don't want to make a factual error in a post like that. She also asked me to check the math, which is a good thing, since all the percentages were off by two decimal places in the original — she's a writer, not a math major, lol!
Why does Ron Sparks sanction such a personal attack on countrycat?
This woman is a professional writer, citizen journalist and 5th generation Alabamian (also shotgun enthusiast) with a long history as a Ron Sparks booster. In 2007 she liveblogged the Madison County Democratic Reunion (coming up April 24 this year!) and snapped this photo of Sparks checking out Daily Kos — “Ron Sparks arrived, gave a barnburner speech, and hung out at the blog for a while:”
A few weeks later she founded Blue Sparks in Alabama, a (now defunct) blog dedicated to boosting Ron Sparks should he seek Jeff Sessions' US Senate seat. When Sparks was taking a lot of heat for insisting on a clear field or no go in the Senate race, countrycat defended his position in this DKos post, Alabama Party Primaries: the Ugly Facts of Life.
There was a lot of criticism about Ron Sparks' desire to avoid a primary challenge. Several comments expressed a lot of disappointment, thinking that Sparks just can't take the heat, isn't tough enough, etc.
I don't believe that – and neither do most Alabama Democratic activists. To understand why, you need a bit of info about Alabama politics and election laws.
Since Sparks has been in the gubernatorial race, countrycat has searched high and low for positive stories to write about him, and was persistent enough to get a phone interview with him on the broadband issue — one of his better issues. Her criticism of Sparks over the course of the campaign has been reluctant and always includes a constructive component — when our Nov. interview with Sparks was interrupted by a fire alarm, countrycat used the time to give him pointers on how to make (or tell his web designers to make) his campaign website more friendly to dial-up visitors. She has wanted Sparks to succeed and to be the candidate we glimpsed in 2007.
What does countrycat get for her interest in this political figure, her efforts to draw attention to his ideas and positive attributes and her honest advice when he's off course?
She's called a plagiarist; a catspaw for the Davis campaign; an “idiot.” In short, she gets a kick in the teeth.
Classy Commissioner Sparks, really classy. Nice operation you're running there.