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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Campaign Shenanigans

When volunteers behave unethically

Hana Callaghan

The daughter of a long time donor has a paid staff position on your campaign. One of her tasks is to recruit college student volunteers and supervise them when they show up for campaign events. At the State convention she has organized a “spontaneous” rally providing great optics for the press on how the youth vote supports you. The students are provided all access to the convention parties including free alcohol. The morning after these parties all of your primary opponent’s signs, displays, and materials have mysteriously disappeared. The evidence strongly suggests that the culprits were your student volunteers, led by your donor’s daughter. Not wanting to offend your donor, you laugh the charges off with a shrug and a chuckle saying, ”Kids will be kids.”

What would be the right response from the candidate?

Hana Callaghan, director of Government Ethics for the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, wrote this case for her online course, How to Run an Ethical Political Campaign—and Win.

Jan 22, 2016
Government Ethics Stories