In his News-Sentinel column today, Kevin Leininger discussed the matter of Matt Kelty's arrest and the questions surrounding it. Was Kelty "made an example of" by local law enforcement? Did he actually play up the arrest and his handcuffing to solicit empathy?:
It might turn out to be the most memorable and compelling image of this year's mayoral campaign: Republican Matt Kelty, incongruously wearing a dark suit and handcuffs, being led to a waiting police cruiser after his indictment on nine counts of perjury and campaign-finance irregularities.
But was Kelty's well-publicized Aug. 14 “perp (perpetrator) walk” an example of selective and overzealous law enforcement, as some have suggested? Or did Kelty himself choreograph the event in order to outrage or energize his supporters, as others suspect?
You can peruse the full column here, but let's cut to the heart of Kevin's article:
But here's where the ambiguity creeps in - and not just because, according to Keesler, Kelty refused a police offer to place a jacket over his wrists to hide the handcuffs .
If this issue were only a matter of idle speculation by political junkies and partisan bloggers, it would be little more than an intriguing irrelevancy. But Kelty's “perp walk” and his interaction with the judicial system are important - because the candidate himself has chosen to make them so.
In an interview with The News-Sentinel's Kathleen Quilligan that published Aug. 17, Kelty talked about how his sixth-grade son had “watched the news with me in handcuffs and said, ‘Daddy, I'm scared.' I said, ‘They are treating Daddy as they would anyone . . . It's important to deal with adversity with strength and confidence.'”
A few days later, in an interview with WANE-TV's Mark Mellinger, Kelty talked about how being handcuffed had been traumatic for his children. He displayed the band placed around his wrist at the jail, and said it would remain there until his children cut it off following his acquittal.
And just this month, Kelty posted a video on the Internet implying he's been targeted because he challenged the “status quo.”
Kevin's having none of that, and brings it home:
Nonsense. Like Kelty and many of his supporters, I'm pro-life, conservative, religious and skeptical of big government. But I don't for a moment think he was indicted because of his beliefs or because he dared to challenge Allen County's entrenched power structure. He was indicted because a jury of his peers found sufficient evidence to charge him with lying under oath and violating campaign-finance laws - and his guilt or innocence will be decided in a court of law, not the court of public opinion.
In other words, Kelty is no martyr - and should he try to portray himself as one, otherwise sympathetic people will be more likely to question his character, judgment and ability to lead this city.
So, Matt, for your own good: Take that bracelet off. Now.
Ouch. When a good conservative such as Leininger, throws that at you as the party's standard-bearer, what's left to say? Matt. . .here's your fork.