As often as I smack the Tampa Bay Times with a wooden plank, I have to admit not many news organizations can beat Florida's largest-circulation newspaper for doing what all of us in the media should do -- pluck the humbugs out of candidates' resumes and report them.
The Times found another one for us over the weekend.
To the naked eye, Democrat Eduardo "Ed" Jany -- a wounded cop, a military man with a Bronze star and a degree in police administration -- looks on his LinkedIn bio like a solid, even fearsome challenger for Republican David Jolly in Congressional District 13. But so much for the naked eye.
According to Times staff writer William R. Levesque and researcher John Martin, Jany embellished his bio with, of all things, a fairy-tale education.
On his resume Jany, 49, claims he has a degree from Madison University. Madison what?Madison Diploma Mill is what it is -- no campus, no classes, listed on the Mississippi Commission on College Accreditation's "nonapproved entities list."
"It's completely fake," George Gollin, a University of Illinois professor who has studied diploma mills, told the Times. Jany, he said, "must certainly have known it wasn't legitimate, because they would have just taken his money and given him the credentials."
There are other suspected education fibs on Jany's resume. For example, who knows how many courses he left incomplete at the University of Minnesota, and who knows why he felt it necessary to tell the Times his Madison "degree" ... "was good enough" to get him into the senior fellows executive program at Harvard (the program brochure says there's "no formal educational requirement"). Read the story.
Jany, a Republican-turned-Democrat in 2013, had an uphill-enough climb against Jolly as it is.According to Florida law, candidates have to be a party member for at least a year before they can run for that party's nomination. Jany didn't switch parties until October. So that puts him on the ballot as "without party affiliation."
Which also means no one can blame Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant for letting Jany slip through the net. Some may try, but It won't be fair to hack her up over a wannabe congressman. Unlike chief financial officer candidate William Rankin, he isn't her fish. She would have had no reason to run him past a Democratic candidate screening committee.
Want to blame somebody? Make it Steve Israel, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who never looked past the nose on his facebefore telling SaintPetersblog the Democratic Party is throwing its full weight behind Jany.
Israel is quoted as saying, Congressman David Jollys reckless Republican Congress is repelling Americans like Colonel Ed Jany ..." Personally, I hope they are. If Jany feels he has to fib his way into the U.S. Congress, who can blame them?
It's true, candidates are such big liars. Don't deny it, they are. it's just a fact.They bend the truth, distort the facts, fudge the numbers, deceive, delude, hoodwink, equivocate, misrepresent, and, yes, lie like a cheap Chinese watch. In the end we aren't going to think about the lies in the ballot box, we're going to vote for the candidate who makes us feel better.
So, what's the big deal about Jany? I think he's a dead man walking for two reasons.
First, campaigns can survive the most blatant political lies, but candidates must never, ever be found to have lied about themselves or even appear to have lied about themselves. Remember presidential candidate Al Gore's image problems? Gore never claimed to have invented the Internet or to have discovered Love Canal. He did, however, falsely claim during the 1988 presidential contest to have gotten a bunch of people indicted and sent to jail while working as a reporter.
Voters demand authenticity in their candidates, even if the authenticity is fake, as was George W. Bushs just-folks manner.
I'm not the first one to say this. I remember reading long ago in a political science text: to lie about an issue is to be a politician; to lie about a corporation is to be a public relations executive; to lie about a legal matter is to be a lawyer; to lie about international power relations is to be a diplomat; but to lie about who you are is to be a hypocrite, and voters despise hypocrites.
Second, Jany we hardly knew ye! The Tampa resident and Marine Corps colonel came out of nowhere. Voters didn't know him. I mean, at all. They didn't know his personality, his heart, his conscience, his principles, what he does with his time, who his family is, what compels him to run. It was way too early to start fudging facts. If the Tampa Bay Times hadn't begun probing Ed Jany, somebody else in the media would have. Sooner rather than later. A resume first time out is a very inviting, open book.
Funny thing is, all Jany had to do was play it straight. So what if he hadn't finished university? One in 20 members of Congress -- or about 5 percent -- either haven't graduated or never went to college at all.
But now, if you're a CD 13 voter, you have to ask yourself, if he wants to cover up his education, if he wants to buy a diploma so it looks as if he has a legitimate degree, what else is he covering up?
With or without Steve Israel and the DCCC, Ed Jany is a dead man walking.
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 228-282-2423.