Scott Washburn, assistant director of Augsburg College’s StepUP® program, was one the experts interviewed by MinnPost for an article examining public figures’ right to privacy as well as the rights of the public figures’ significant others. The article examined an overarching theme that probed, “How much of a candidate’s own personal life should be made available for public debate?”
In responding to a question on whether it is appropriate for the mental health or addiction history of a political spouse or other family member to be made public, Washburn argued that sort of political playmaking goes over the line.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate at all,” Washburn said. “The candidate is running, not the family member. The electorate is voting for the candidate, not the family member. The family of a presidential candidate is going to be dragged into the public eye, but I think it’s important to respect some boundaries here. It’s an issue of respect and privacy. The candidate would be fair game from my perspective, but I don’t think family members should be. It just reflects how low things have gone in this political race.
All that being said, if the family member chooses to publically disclose his or her personal history, then that is a different conversation.”
Read additional responses from Washburn in “When is a public figure’s mental health or addiction status off limits?” on the MinnPost site.