By Triplicate Editorial Board

Shame on Bob Berkowitz and Roger Gitlin.

For the most part these two men ran clean campaigns in their quest to get elected to the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors. That ended earlier this week with their deceptive mass mailing to local voters in the final hours of a close and important election.

Berkowitz and Gitlin, staunch Republicans, are distributing flyers labeled “Democratic Voter Guide,” urging voters to “take this card to the polls.” Every one of the many names on the cards are Democrats except — you guessed it — Republicans Gitlin and Berkowitz.

The cards feature prominent photos of President Barack Obama and Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton, including declarations in bold typeface “Elect Hillary Clinton for U.S. President.” There’s even a quote attributed to Obama: “I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office. Hillary’s got the courage, the compassion and the heart to get the job done.”

The Berkowitz and Gitlin mailings are a clear attempt to confuse voters.

At a meeting Friday requested by Berkowitz, he reverted to political trickery. At first, Berkowitz declared anything said was off the record. When he was informed there would be no off the record conversations with him or any other candidate, Berkowitz claimed our questions about the mailing were accusatory and he wasn’t going to respond. We are the bad guys here for daring to ask him the very same questions voters have flooded our offices with since receiving their questionable campaign literature so late in the game.

Berkowitz said although he spent hundreds of dollars on the mailing, he didn’t see it before it went out and wasn’t aware of its contents. When asked if he planned to spend taxpayer money the same way, without doing his homework, Berkowitz said it was an unfair question.

Berkowitz said he didn’t think the mailing was deceptive because there is a small disclaimer in tiny typeface. Caveat emptor... let the voter beware.

Berkowitz’s claims are disingenuous at best. He makes his living advising political candidates on how to conduct their campaigns and win. He’s no newcomer to the political arena.

Gitlin has yet to respond to any questions or make a statement about the mailing.

This newspaper has a policy to avoid publishing controversial stories about local elections on the last publication day before a vote. Most news organizations do. It’s an attempt to be fair to all sides. These kind of underhanded tactics designed to confuse and deceive voters are the exception to our rule. They are beneath both men. Del Norte County voters deserve better.

Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the Del Norte Triplicate editorial board, which includes Publisher Cindy Vosburg, Editor Robin Fornoff and Managing Editor Matthew Durkee.

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