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EDITORIAL

Voters need full disclosure from candidate Coats

This is the year of the political real deal - nothing less will do.

Thursday, May 27, 2010 - 10:32 am

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Coats and Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker are dancing around the edges of an important argument, sniping away at each other over “attorney-client privilege,” something most Hoosier voters don't give a whit about. But they do care very much about what goes on in Washington and how things happen there, which is at the heart of the argument.

Coats can't claim attorney-client privilege in refusing to release details of his Washington lobbying efforts, Parker says, because courts have excluded lobbying from such claims. A Coats representative says the candidate hasn't been a licensed attorney since 2003 and never claimed the privilege as a reason lobbying details haven't been released yet. Well, yes, he did, says Parker, citing news accounts in which the Coats campaign claimed exactly that.

Voters should let the political spinmasters handle all that, but here is the crucial point: Parker is exactly right that immediate and full disclosure is needed to provide “critical information the state's voters need to decide in November,” in part to give them context for the issues Coats is speaking about.

Coats has a tricky path to tread for the election as the ultimate insider trying to sound like an outsider in this anti-incumbent climate of complete distrust of Washington.

The former senator profoundly misunderstands the mood of the electorate if he thinks its anger is just about issues or philosophical positions. It goes much deeper, aimed at a perceived culture in the nation's capital that works for the connected and neglects the ordinary citizen.

A representative of Coats' office says things are taking so long because the lobbying list is being double-checked for accuracy and that disclosure will happen soon. Good – it can't be soon enough; in fact, it should have happened before the primary election.

When Coats and Democrat candidate Brad Ellsworth go head to head on the issues, we expect to agree with Coats far more than with Ellsworth, for the simple reason that he is the more conservative. And his mere tenure in Washington isn't that worrisome, either. It's what people have done with their time there that matters, and if there's the amount of turnover expected in November, a little experience will be a good thing for Republicans.

But the time for the usual political games is over; the voters are fed up and simply won't stand for it anymore. This is the year of the real deal. Anybody who offers any less than that is just wasting everybody's time.