Despite laws against lying, tall tales have become the norm on the campaign trail, experts say

Name of Publication: 
The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer
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By Aaron Marshall, The Plain Dealer
on October 27, 2012 at 10:00 PM, updated October 27, 2012 at 10:02 PM  

COLUMBUS, Ohio - In Ohio, it's a crime to make false statements about your opponent in an election campaign.

Still, the 2012 political season has been filled with lies, according to fact-checking organizations, including The Plain Dealer's PolitiFact Ohio. But those telling the tall tales probably will face few consequences.

From the race for the White House on down to local legislative races across America, speaking in half-truths and twisting your opponent's record seems to be the norm rather than the exception, government ethics experts agree.

"It happens all the time, but certainly during the campaign season it is much more evident," said Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University in California. "The problem is that this leads to an eroding of people's confidence in government. People throw up their hands and say, 'I don't believe any of them,' and it decreases voter registration and turnout."

Said Robert Smith, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University and leading researcher on ethics laws and commissions: "It has become more prevalent and more characteristic of political campaigns to play footloose and fancy-free with the facts."