Whiston campaign mailer misrespresents endorsement

Dear editor,

I am writing to inform our community that a campaign mailer recently sent out by Commissioner Tom Whiston falsely misrepresented myself and our local Red Cross as supporting his campaign.

To be clear, the flyer does not specifically state that he is endorsed by the Red Cross representatives included in the photo or the local chapter of the Red Cross; however, the inference is there.

I was never asked permission for use of my photo in Mr. Whiston’s campaign. And if I had been asked, I would not grant it.

And as I understand from speaking with Red Cross administration, this is in strict violation of Red Cross policies.

The photo was taken on a day the Morrow County commissioners issued a proclamation for the Red Cross. It is a group photograph with Red Cross representatives and one of the members has the Red Cross emblem clearly visible on his person.

In 2020 the National Red Cross issued the following remarks specifically regarding the use of the Red Cross emblem for political use:

“The Red Cross is a humanitarian organization founded upon the fundamental principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence—among others. The Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering wherever it may be found. We promote mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation and lasting peace.

Since we are in the midst of election season, it is important to note that the use of the Red Cross emblem in political messages, campaigns or advertisements violates these principles and is not endorsed by the American Red Cross. Use of the Red Cross emblem for political or divisive purposes can jeopardize our access to communities in need across the U.S. and around the globe.

In addition, the Red Cross is prohibited by federal law from directly or indirectly participating in, intervening in, or attempting to influence or show bias in political campaigns for any elective office or any political initiative. Our tax-exempt status is granted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and violation of IRS regulations could result in the loss of our exempt status.”

As for my personal representation used in Mr. Whiston’s campaign. I do not support his campaign.

In this regard, I have read, “In most states, you can be sued for using someone else’s name, likeness, or other personal attributes without permission for an exploitative purpose. Usually, people run into trouble in this area when they use someone’s name or photograph in a commercial setting, such as in advertising or other promotional activities without prior written consent.”

To Morrow County constituents: I did not give permission for the use of my photograph, and I do not endorse this candidate.

To Mr. Whiston: An apology is in order.


Brenda Harden

Mount Gilead