Roy accuses Gibbs of “demeaning public debate”

For immediate release
May 20, 2010

Contact: Chris Roy

Where’s The Transparency and Honesty?

Politics as usual: On debates, Gibbs says one thing and does another

Williston***Chris Roy, attorney and community leader, today asked Jason Gibbs to be honest and forthright with the voters on his challenge of weekly debates.

When Jason Gibbs entered the Secretary of State race on Monday, Chris Roy welcomed him and challenged him to a debate each week until the August 24 election.

On Monday, Gibbs told the Rutland Herald “he would be happy to debate as frequently as his campaign schedule allows.” Rutland Herald 5/18

A letter formalizing the debate proposal was sent to Gibbs by email on Tuesday evening. Having not heard back, Chris Roy eventually released his letter to the media. Formal letter

Consistent with his comment to the Rutland Herald, Gibbs responded to Roy’s challenge in an email on Wednesday evening, saying “I assure you that I am looking forward to as many debates as my schedule will allow,” and promising a prompt response.

Less than an hour before replying to Roy, however, Gibbs had already delivered a very different message on his Facebook Page:

“Help guide our campaign: My primary opponent wants 13 debates in 12 weeks. He thinks debates “are the most direct, transparent way to communicate with voters.” I look forward to debates, but believe the “most direct and transparent way to communicate with voters” is by speaking with them directly, not at them in debates. What do you think? 13 debates or fewer debates and more direct voter contact?”

Gibbs also found the time to send an email to supporters in which he referred to a discussion about public debates as “silliness,” and made it clear that his response to the debate question depended on the feedback he got from his supporters. Burlington Free Press 5/20

In response to Gibbs’ lack of transparency about debates, Roy said, “If Jason is fearful of debating me or thinks it is a waste of time, then he should be honest with the voters by saying so rather than playing politics and spinning the media with a fictitious ‘schedule’.”

Roy continued, “Given Jason’s comments on Facebook today, it is clear that he could fit public debates into his schedule if he wanted to, as he is asking his supporters to advise him rather than make a decision himself. Jason is also demeaning the debate process by saying that they are ‘speaking at’ voters. Perhaps that is how Jason would approach debates. I, on the other hand, would look forward to unscripted, unfiltered, unrehearsed debates where Vermonters get to ask the candidates about their backgrounds, qualifications, relevant experience, and specific, substantive plans for office.”

In conclusion, Roy stated, “I am disappointed that Jason has chosen to engage in double talk with the media and the voters right out of the gate. Vermonters are tired of politics as usual, and they deserve better. I hold out hope that Jason will accept my challenge of weekly debates, but it has become clear that he is more than happy to avoid providing voters with the opportunity to see us together as we engage in a productive exchange of ideas.”

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