LETTERS: Bennett addresses ‘rumor mongering’

The Nov. 8 edition of the Hutchinson News ran a story about the race for state representative in the 70th District. The story referred to an incident that took place Oct. 22 that had significance to the campaign.

I feel a further explanation of the event is needed to allay any misunderstanding caused by the first story.

On Oct. 22 at 4 p.m., Don Dahl and I were ready to start a political forum sponsored by the Marion County Record at the VFW Hall in Marion.

Before the moderator could start the forum, Dahl interrupted and stated that in light of the deaths of 17 sailors aboard the U.S.S. Cole, he thought it would be appropriate to say the Pledge of Allegiance and that his opponent should lead it.

Although surprised by Dahl’s impromptu suggestion, I led the Pledge of Allegiance, as I have done many times since childhood.

Many in the room that afternoon were aware of the rumors that had been circulating since early in my campaign that accused me of flag burning, dishonoring the flag, dodging the draft, fleeing to Canada and various other unpatriotic acts. All were blatant, malicious lies.

Dahl obviously thought he could use the Pledge of Allegiance as a means to embarrass and expose me as unpatriotic in a public fashion acting upon the belief I would not honor the flag if asked.

When confronted after the forum by a member of the audience, Dahl admitted as much.

On Oct. 28 my wife had occasion to speak with Dahl about this incident and he stated he had to “test” me because the state legislature opens with the Pledge of Allegiance every day they are in session.

Here is what is obvious: Don Dahl was either the sponsor of, or a party to, the rumor mongering and made no attempt to repudiate or disavow the rumor as required by the Kansas Fair Campaign Statement he signed and filed in Topeka.

Dahl used the lives of 17 sailors in a hall dedicated to the Veterans of Foreign Wars to pull a cheap political trick.

He should be ashamed for the dishonor he brings to the elective process, which is the bedrock of our democracy.

I ran a clean campaign that dealt with the issues: eduction, senior services, rural healthcare, family farms, clean water and a host of others.

I worked hard walking every community in the district so as to personally visit with as many voters as I could. I never expected to be the object of character slurs and dirty political tricks.

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