Elizabeth Dole and the Tale of the Rotten Photo

Today the NCDP filed an ethics complaint against Senator Elizabeth Dole. I first saw this at Under the Dome.

The Complaint was sent by Jerry Meek to Senators Boxer and Cornyn. They are the Chair and Vice Chair of the Senate Ethics Committee. I wont post the entire text of the letter, but here is the important part:

Federal law and Senate Ethics Rules prohibit the use of any official government resources for political or campaign purposes. See e.g., 31 U.S.C. § 1301(a) (use of appropriated funds may only be used for intended purpose); 2 U.S.C. § 58 (permissible uses of official government resources and property); S. Comm. on Ethics, 108th Cong., Senate Ethics Manual 146-47 (Comm. Print. 2003) (same). The Senate Sergeant at Arms also provides telecommunications services to each Senator, including webhosting services, payment for which comes from U.S. Treasury funds appropriated to the Senate for official government use. 2 U.S.C. § 58(a).

This picture of Senator Dole is the only picture of her that is displayed on her Senate constituent webpage. Thus, it can only be assumed that this is the Senator’s official photograph to represent her office. This is further supported by the prohibition against personal material, including photographs, being posted on webpages or transmitted through email using Senate telecommunications resources. See S. Comm. on Ethics,
U.S. Senate Internet Services Usage: Rules and Policies (adopted July 22, 1996). As such, Senator Dole is prohibited from displaying that same photograph on a website whose purpose is to promote her as a candidate for U.S. Senate. The use of such a photograph is an improper use of official government property and may confuse and mislead voters who compare the two websites.

What does all of that mean? Well, it seems that Senator Dole has been using the exact same picture for everything. For both her official government correspondence, and for her partisan campaign. This is a big deal.

For proof, here are the two pics side by side. These pics are screenshots from the N&O

Im no legal expert, so its hard to tell, but it appears that the route going forward is that the Senate Ethics Committee will choose to look into this complaint or not. If they look into then I assume there is some sort of committee investigation and hearing followed by a finding of either no wrongdoing or a recommendation the whole senate for a vote of censure or something along those lines.

So its hard to say exactly what will come of this, but I think the facts are pretty clear. Now the question becomes, will Elizabeth Dole continue to use government resources for partisan politics in the face of legal and political scrutiny? Or will she deny any wrongdoing and scrub her website to prove that Jerry was right all along?

Either way, she should be in big trouble for this, and she deserves to be.



None of those people look like Elizabeth Dole. I can't believe the N&O caters to politicians by running the photographs they prefer for publicity purposes.

Oh, wait. It's the N&O. Sure I can.


I dont mind that the N&O changed her pic. I dont see a problem with her campaign asking them to change it and them complying and I dont really see a problem with her senate office asking for the same thing (She is an elected official after all).

But violating Federal Ethics law by having such blatant overlap between her Senate office and her Campaign? Thats her responsibility and her fault, and deserves some serious investigations to make sure there isnt fire. Cause I sure see smoke.

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

I don't see a problem with them asking

but I see a big problem with the N&O saying "yes." I don't care if she's an elected official or not, her publicity photo has no relationship to her real self whatsoever.

News organizations aren't supposed to be in the business of promoting false impressions of elected officials, either what they say or what they look like.

Gimmie a B..

Gimmie an O..
Gimmie a T - O - X.


I just read this over at Under the Dome.

...I mean, really? Is this all we got? It just seems very, very, silly to me. If the GOP were attacking some Dem over this, you know we would all be discussing how sad it was that this is all the Republicans had to throw at us. We'd be making some jokes about digital cameras, photoshop, etc. This is kinda what this feels like. Can't we file some more substantive complaints??

And I'm not sure how I feel about attacking an older woman for her looks. Maybe some people find that funny, but I don't. Sorry to be the wet blanket.

The thing is, the photos that Blue South posted appear the same.

which speaks to an issue of honesty.

And no, of course this isn't all we've got. This is something we could file an official complaint about, and we did. If we had grounds for an official complaint against Elizabeth Dole, and didn't make it, we would be remiss. I would expect the same thing to happen to Kay Hagan, Barack Obama, or Hillary Clinton if she used something this way. What truly bothers me is that it smacks not only of a lack of integrity, but a lack of ingenuity, laziness, and disrespect for the voters.

Of course, it's possible that she paid for the photo on the Senate web page. And she wears red all the time.

As for making fun of her looks, you're absolutely right. It makes me uncomfortable. There is definitely a double standard for looks for female politicians vs. male politicians.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors

Agree in Part

The stuff about looks is uncalled for. And I dont care if her official photo is from 50 years ago. It would be amusing, but not dishonest.

The simple fact is that she is breaking the law. And for someone to yell and scream about illegal immigration and then break the law in her senate office is hypocrisy of the highest order.

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

Breaking the law...

I mean, I don't support anyone breaking the law (having done some successful prosecutions myself in the past week), but this is a photo. On a website. One photo.

I mean, if she was doing campaign calls from her Senate office, then, heck yeah, let's get her! But this is like filing a complaint b/c she sped 11 miles over the speed limit. Yeah, she shouldn't do it, but I'm not sure I would make a whole production over the fact that you're complaining about it. It just looks desperate, and I know there's a whole lot more to critique Sen. Dole on. Maybe it's just me, but it just seems silly.

A lot more

But you and I have no idea whether she is doing campaign work from her senate office. There is no way for us to know. Except that she used the same photo. That is proof that there is some form of communication between her Senate office and her Campaign that breaks the law.

The question is, is this the only circumstance? I doubt it, but it deserves a thorough and impartial investigation from the Senate Ethics Comm.

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

It takes a lot of pebbles

to create a landslide. This is one of those pebbles.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

It's a money issue

It's about following campaign financing laws. If Dole is skeezing off her tax funded Senate office for her campaign, that is an issue that should be addressed.

It's not ok for Senators to intermingle campaigning costs with costs from an official position (in this case Senator) which are funded by tax payers.

I don't want my tax dollars going to help fund Dole's campaign, do you?

NCDem Amy on YouTube

It's not about looks

it's about integrity. If I put up a retouched photo of myself from 20 years ago and asked a newspaper to keep it as my standard file photo, I would be lying.

Liddy Dole is lying.


PS I agree that there is no reason to make fun of what anyone looks like. Ever. This is not about that. I'm not making fun, I'm asking for honesty.

Nothing substantial will come of this

The only impact of this issue will be the removal of her Official Photo from her election website. Well, that and every other candidate doing a quick search of their election sites to scour it of Official Photos.

One possibility to consider, though. What if the picture she is using as her Official Photo was actually supplied by her, and not paid for with Senate funds? I doubt that is the case - I give the NCDP credit for checking for that possibility before filing the complaint.

What short memories we all have.

Richard Moore - C
Richard Moore has a state-run website, and a campaign website. The first thing I noticed, and I do mean the first thing, is that he is using the same picture on both sites, different background, but look at the hairs out of place and you'll see they must have done a bluescreen photo.
That is lame enough to knock him down a grade, but I won't. His news section hasn't been updated in six months, his photo gallery is old and not updated, and he has limited contact information. All in all, a solid C grade.

I think Jerry did what he had to, but I still think it is silly for anyone to cover it. It shouldn't have been made into a big deal. It points out that Elizabeth Dole might be doing something inappropriate, but it would have been better to send her a letter warning her that she was violating Senate ethics. That would have made her seem inept while at the same time not making the Democratic Party seem petty. If the Senate ethics committee heard about it and decided it needed to look into it, so be it.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Let me warm up hell.

I'm not saying they shouldn't have called her on it, it's a mistake, you call your opponents on mistakes. All of them. But, to file an ethics complaint seems like overkill. It will backfire. Better to make it seem like she doesn't know the rules, that she's out of touch.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

It's about where this goes...

...here's how this plays out - if it continues to be covered.

More pictures like the one that you discovered are found on the websites of both sides and these examples are lobbed back and forth across the blogosphere and - perhaps - cable news.

It's mindless stuff like that crowds out the bandwidth from more substantive matters.

Quite frankly, I'd rather respond to vitriolic responses from you about the economy or education than about a gotcha moment on YouTube.

They are talking about this very thing on The Diane Rhems Show.

Cabarruscheapseats.com: Reasoned Discussion of Cabarrus County, NC News & Politics

From the Complaint

This is further supported by the prohibition against personal material, including photographs, being posted on webpages or transmitted through email using Senate telecommunications resources.

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

Just curious...

Was Mr. Meek as strident in his letters to the ethics committees to the NC House and Senate over the dealings of Wright? What about Meg Scott Phipps? Were there any letters at all?

Has he raised hell over the Randy Parton Theater?

I mean, if he's going to be a crusader for good government, those seem like much more obvious marks.

Cabarruscheapseats.com: Reasoned Discussion of Cabarrus County, NC News & Politics

If they are obvious....

If they are obvious then they dont need a letter. When every media outlet in the state is calling for investigations of something whats the point of asking for an investigation?

But yes, from what I remember he was pretty strident in the case of Wright.

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

Cabarrus Commish

Speaking of keepers of the public trust - Is Coy Privette still a commish over there in Cabarrus?

"jump in where you can and hang on"
Briscoe Darling to Sheriff Andy

Nice try, though?

Until you demand the ouster of this lying sack of crap, your assertions of self-policing and integrity in the Republican Party don't amount to much, Justin.

I think he did

Im pretty sure that Justin was threatened by Privette and friends for calling for his resignation.

On the subject, from Justin

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

Some possible solutions

In an effort to help you find a solution to your frustration - allow me to offer two suggestions.

1) It would seem more effective to me - if these charges of war crimes had any merit - to get the leaders of the opposition party in Congress to do something about it.

Wait. No luck there.

2) Now I appreciate your frustration; but you may be in luck. If you're wanting a Republican to work towards impeaching the President - Carl Mumpower is your man.

Cabarruscheapseats.com: Reasoned Discussion of Cabarrus County, NC News & Politics

Thanks, Justin

In this crazy mixed up world, it's nice to know that some things never change.

Fight Club

Nothin' a good ole Cabarrus Republican Mens Club fist-fight can't take care of, no?


Don't talk about Fight Club.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors

Bruton vs. Coy

Bruton Smith vs. Coy Privette - I would pay to see that.

"jump in where you can and hang on"
Briscoe Darling to Sheriff Andy

If Hillary can do it....

If Hillary can throw her support behind Obama then I think Moore should be able to do it Perdue.

Get off the fence Moore and do what is right

"jump in where you can and hang on"
Briscoe Darling to Sheriff Andy

Law isn't clear here

Works of the US Government - including photographs - are in the public domain. What Dole is doing isn't something I would do, but since the US Government doesn't hold the rights to the work anyone can use it and it would not legally be the property of the US Government.

As for the Richard Moore photo, State Officials can buy the rights to state works for campaign purposes. I believe the cost is $200 for GA members.

I ♥ NC General Statute § 163‑211.

I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero—that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth and justice. - Bill Hicks


When does it stop being technically the same photo?
In both, the subject is identical, but the backdrop has changed. Is that enough to make it "different"?