A couple months ago, I posted information about a grassroots advocacy code of ethics that I and several colleagues in the community are developing, in concert with anyone who wants to be involved. A recent column in Roll Call, authored by Amy Showalter and Kelton Rhoads expresses their point of view. The piece, titled "Mis-Trust Unavoidable in Grassroots Efforts" suggests that a grassroots code of ethics that stifles free speech won't help either the industry or civic discourse.
I couldn't agree more, which was why I was completely mystified by their arguments. While they have suggested a more nefarious motive for our work, those developing the code are interested only in stopping egregious practices that make everyone look bad, such as sending fake letters to Capitol Hill -- a subject of recent Congressional hearings -- or creating coordinated campaigns where citizens make death threats to legislators in townhall meetings.
Because we have a difference of opinion on the basic point of whether mistrust is avoidable or not, and because there were some factual errors in the column, several leaders in the grassroots advocacy community joined together to co-author a response. The letter (which you can access here) was signed by myself, Anne Darconte (in her role as a long-time leader on these issues), Les Francis of the Washington Media Group, and Christopher Arterton in his role as a Professor of Political Management at GW.
In addition, our friends at the Congressional Management Foundation's new Partnership for a More Perfect Union crafted a response based on their unique perspective and scientific research on this issue. You can read their response here.
I hope you'll take a moment to review ALL the arguments and, if you feel so inclined, to comment on the code itself at www.gspm.org/ethics. All perspectives, whether complimentary or not are very welcome.