Everyone in the Mud Pile!

Readers of this space may recall that a few weeks ago, I hearkened back to the 2014 season, when eventual mayoral election third-place finisher and still current Deputy Mercer County Clerk Walker Worthy, Junior (a very important distinction to make, as it turns out), held a press event outside the personal residence of one of his opponents, eventual winner and now outgoing Mayor Eric Jackson. The sole purpose for that event was to fling mud on Mr. Jackson by publicizing several personal financial problems Mr. Jackson had experienced over the previous several years. In the words of a Trenton Times article of the time,

Among the issues Worthy raised during a press conference yesterday were a bankruptcy filing, a foreclosure, state tax liens and a judgment for a debt to his college alma mater…  Jackson filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in December 1996 and the bankruptcy was discharged a short time later in March 1997. [Emphasis mine- KM]

What goes around often does indeed come around. This week, Mr. Worthy is shocked – shocked!! – that charges of similar personal problems  of Worthy’s have been publicized. This time the charges are anonymous, made on a Facebook page with no attribution. A piece in today’s Trentonian by Isaac Avilucea reports, “The post outlined Worthy Jr. was subject to five default judgments for debt associated with credit cards, student loans, auto financing, and condo association fees.” Worthy angrily denied all of the charges on another Facebook page quoted by Mr. Avilucea, writing “This politically motivated slander posted by the ‘Stay Informed Trenton, NJ’ Facebook group is not only absolutely false, it is also extremely offensive.” [Emphasis mine – KM]

Worthy claimed that the Facebook post confused debts accruing to his father, Walker Worthy, Senior, with those anonymously attributed to him. A spokesperson for Worthy also criticized the anonymous authors of the Facebook post for bringing up old debts over 20 years old, saying that such financial problems were “in no way relevant to his financial status as of now.”

I will assume that this spokesperson wasn’t associated with Worthy’s campaign four years ago, because Worthy – personally, remember! – went off on Jackson over alleged bankruptcies filed 18 and 14 years prior.

Worthy’s accusations against Jackson in 2014 didn’t get much mileage. That story, and probably Worthy’s chances of winning that election, faded away soon after. The original charges were not substantiated, and there was no further press attention. Worthy’s reputation as a dirty campaigner, however, lingered well after and was brought up by the Trentonian in today’s piece.

One big difference between the accusations four years ago and now? According to the Trentonian, despite Worthy’s denial that the accusations were “absolutely false,” the Trentonian reports “The Trentonian has uncovered that a majority of the debts brought to light actually belonged to Worthy Jr., while at least one other cited on the list was debunked as debt that belonged to his dad.” [Emphasis mine – KM]

I write about this not because I think our city’s elections should be dominated by charges of personal problems and difficulties, but because this incident reveals Worthy as a hypocrite. The same candidate who in 2014 said – in front of Eric Jackson’s home – “We must hold our elected leaders to a higher standard and they must demonstrate they are worthy of the voters’ trust” is incapable of recognizing how ironic it is to now be held to the very same “higher standard” he called down on an opponent. Karma’s a bitch, indeed.

Today’s reporting in the Trentonian shows Worthy’s “absolutely false” statement to be, frankly, a crock.

Worthy, in my opinion, added to the hypocrisy of his response when he cloaked his self-righteous outrage in religion. “[I]t is especially disgusting that during this holy week that should be spent with family and in worship, this vile filth is instead being circulated in our city.”

Please. Just. Don’t.

I also want to say that I am really, really sick and tired of all of the anonymous Facebook pages and assumed false identities that have sprung up this season with the sole purpose of trolling other candidacies and praise their favorites. I despise those on social media who won’t use their own names when making charges of doubtful authenticity or of outright lies. I even object to truthful charges, anonymously made. It’s often the case that trolls will ration out some true tales with their lies, which has the effect of muddying the waters and casting doubt on truth as well with fiction. As one who takes some care to report factual information truthfully, I can say that writing under one’s own name rather than an alias allows readers and other audiences to make their own judgements on what they read and hear, based in part on the reputation for care and honesty of the writer. Anonymous or pseudonymous writers have no true reputation. They have no dependability. And, to this guy at least, no honor. I won’t link to those pages, I won’t name them here, and I will usually avoid mentioning them entirely. The only exception, as in this case, is when those posts themselves, for good or worse, make news and lead to legitimate news coverage.

I’d like to think that after this incident they’ll cease, or just slow down, but that ship has sailed long, long ago. And not just in Trenton. If there’s any upside to all this mud, at least it’s probably safe to say that this is all locally-sourced mud, manufactured only in Trenton and certain other NJ townships such as Hamilton or Secaucus. Not St. Petersburg, Moscow, or any other place names in the Cyrillic alphabet. We don’t rate those, thank goodness!

Finally. On March 15, I wrote in this space,

I’m not quite ready to write off Walker Worthy’s campaign just quite yet. However, so far all he has done is wrap himself up with the party “machine” – remember, his word! – and throw mud at his opponents.

He has an opportunity now to become competitive, if he starts to present serious ideas, proposals and policies that would have a chance to help this city out of its mess.

But the window on that kind of opportunity is closing fast. If, after the Machine and the Mud we’ve seen so far, all he offers is more Mush, I think he’ll be done.

I wouldn’t exactly call the Trentonian’s debunking of Worthy’s denial, and the confirmation of several personal financial problems in his background – the same ones he claimed in 2014 disqualifed Eric Jackson – “Mush.” It’s more like boomeranging Mud, but I think the effect will be the same.

He’s done.

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