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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • LV Times guest columnist: Campaign manager defends candidate's reputation

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  • Dear readers, please accept my apologies for the length of the following response to Bruce Wiley’s opinion piece entitled, “Questions need asked and answered about state rep candidate,” which unfortunately appeared in this newspaper July 24. A short letter to the editor would not have sufficed to address all the points in need of clarification and further comment.
    Wiley, it would seem, has a bone to pick with lots of people. He apparently knows what is in their very hearts and minds as he claims to know their motivations and intentions. Some of the folks he highlighted in his voluminous article may wish to respond in their own way to his accusations, innuendo, and erroneous version of the facts. I will set the record straight about just one of the good people he targeted.
    Most people wear several hats simultaneously in life, metaphorically speaking, of course. People are parents, employees, choir members, small business owners, volunteers, PTA members, caregivers, etc. I would like to make a few points regarding Wiley’s column first in my capacity as campaign manager and then as a citizen and voter.
    First, it must be difficult to write an opinion piece of any merit about a candidate one has never even met or attempted to interview. Wiley claims that he wants to know more about Tony Barton, candidate for the Kansas House, but he made no efforts to speak with Tony Barton.  None.  
    Mr. Wiley, Tony is very easy to contact by phone or by email through our campaign website.  Too bad you did not care to do so. But then, perhaps writing a venomous, sarcastic column filled with inaccuracies was more to your taste than getting to know and perhaps even discovering that you like this good man who is trying to stand up for his community in a worthwhile way.
    Second, for a man whom Wiley does not know and about whom he has no real knowledge, he certainly seems to have an intense dislike and mistrust of Tony. One wonders why.
    Third, regarding Wiley’s accusations against Karen Angell and her involvement with the Tony Barton campaign, anyone can write a letter to the editor, Mr. Wiley, even Angell in her capacity as a minister. You state in your column that “these politicians have their fingerprints all over reducing the average citizen’s rights.” Does not Angell have the right to her opinion about the disintegration of religious freedom in America even though she also volunteers for Tony’s campaign?  Are you advocating a reduction of her First Amendment right to free speech? In addition, I would point out Angell does not serve on an “election committee.” She is one of many volunteers for the Tony Barton campaign. And, one more thing: if you want to be taken seriously as a columnist, you should refrain from misquoting people as you did when you stated that Angell “told us she had discovered Barton at a breakfast she attended the previous week.”
    Page 2 of 3 - Up to this point in Wiley’s opinion piece, I actually was somewhat amused. The first three columns of the article were, in my opinion, scattered, filled with supposition stated as fact, and not exactly cogent. But then, Wiley turned a corner and took his comments a step too far when he attempted to link the corruption of the now defunct Angel Food Ministries to Tony Barton and New Life Fellowship Church. If Wiley truly did the research he claims to have done and had he fully disclosed all of the information he surely found online as easily as I did, he would have included in his column the following facts: Angel Food Ministries operated for 17 years helping to feed 500,000 people each month by offering reduced priced boxes of groceries. The majority of the work was done by more than 100,000 volunteers throughout 45 states with more than 4,700 non-profits and churches across the nation, like New Life Fellowship, acting as host sites for the food distribution. To imply that Tony, his church or any of the other churches, food banks, and non-profits that served as host sites were participatory in or even tainted by the founders’ eventual corruption and misconduct is profoundly wrong.
    How dare Wiley make such an irresponsible implication. With that kind of logic, does he also think taxpayers, by simply being participants in the taxation system of our country, are tainted by the current IRS scandal involving that entity’s leadership? Wiley owes Tony Barton an apology.
    As to why Pastor Barton never removed the Angel Food Ministries portion of the sign from the larger church signage, perhaps Wiley, since he seems so bothered by an outdated sign remaining in place, would like to take a closer look at the firm attachment of the Angel Food Ministries sign to the larger sign. I have it on good authority that Tony will be happy to attempt removal of the smaller sign if Wiley will agree to pay for the damage to the aging church sign should any occur. In fact, should Wiley offer to pay for a whole new sign for the church, the congregation would be so very appreciative for, you see, Pastor Barton and his congregants would rather use their church funds to continue helping the needy in our community.
    Oh, and thank you for mentioning our website in your article, Mr. Wiley, even though you misrepresented the content. I urge folks to visit www.electtonybarton.com to read for themselves the real content instead of taking the word of Wiley regarding his interpretation. The website contains great information about Tony and his campaign plus contact information should anyone want to know more about Tony Barton and his advocacy of smaller government and the protection of our citizens’ freedom and liberty.
    I would like to close with a few comments made simply as an average citizen/registered voter. Wiley takes up four columns of space in his opinion article to convey to readers that “Questions need asked and answered about state rep candidate.” I can sum up his questions about Tony Barton in just 36 words: He wants to know why Tony hasn’t removed the Angel Food Ministries sign from his church signage and he wants to know if anyone around town had ever heard of Tony before a few months ago. Since I’ve already answered the former, let me speak to the latter.
    Page 3 of 3 - Yes, Mr. Wiley, many people around town have heard of Tony before a few months ago. They have known him for years as the man who picks them up and takes them to their doctor’s appointments because they are too elderly to drive.  They know him as the man who drops everything to help them move to a new house with less than a day’s notice because their house was deemed uninhabitable by the city. They know him as the man who delivers food with the Meals on Wheels program and who rings the bell for the Salvation Army at Christmas all while being part of a home school network and coaching his daughter’s soccer team. Perhaps you’ve never run across Tony because you move in different circles. He’s in the circle that cares about their fellow human beings and does everything in their power to make our community a better place. He’s in the circle that puts on their thick skin and runs for office for the first time because they just can’t stand idly by while this country goes to hell in a hand basket. And, he’s in the circle that will endure trash talk from you and others like you who would rather destroy than create.
    I understand, Mr. Wiley, that you are a registered Republican. As there are no other Republican candidates for you to support instead of Tony in this race for the House, I simply cannot understand your motivation in attempting to take down Tony Barton. I would think you would want to support your Republican candidate.
    May I suggest that if you are not satisfied with the slate of decent citizens from all parties who, along with their families, sacrifice their time, energy, privacy, and so much more to run for public office, you might consider engaging in the political process yourself? If you have not done so at some point in your life, running for office or helping good candidates win elections is a rewarding and educational activity. You might consider also using your time in a more positive way than writing mean-spirited newspaper columns. There are lots of non-profits and a VA hospital in the area, all in need of more volunteers who truly want to make the world a better place. You could join their ranks. In the meantime, if you have additional questions about Tony Barton, all you have to do is ask.

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