POLITICAL CONSULTANT'S 10 COMMANDMENTS, 1
In Ethics for Political Managers at GWU's Graduate School of Political Management, we were asked to create a code of conduct for political operatives. I modeled mine off of the 10 Commandments, arguably one of the most successful codes of ethics around. The professor was not amused...
1) Thy candidate is thy boss, who brought thee into the campaign and pays thy salary.
Even though you are the expert on political campaigns and the candidate is not, it is their campaign. The candidate is all powerful. They are the ones who pay your salary. Even though you may think they are shooting themselves in the foot by doing or not doing something, they have the final say as to what happens or does not. Your job is to be a zealous, yet impartial advocate for the best possible path to victory. All decisions are ultimately theirs, but it is your responsibility to make sure they know all of their options. You serve at their pleasure. Never forget it.
2) Thou shall have no other goal before winning.
If thy candidate does not win their campaign, they cannot govern.If the campaign is not focused on winning, they will be easily distracted, may act in ways that are not strategic and may undermine their own interests. A goal of winning keeps the campaign moving forward in a focused way. Do not be too concerned about "transcending the petty nature of politics." Politics ARE petty and you will get distracted. Your job is to focus on HOW to run the campaign and to keep your clients focused on doing what it takes to win.
3) Thou shall prevent thy candidate from speaking when ill-informed or under-prepared.
Never let your candidate guess or make things up. You must make it your job to make sure they know the issues and their own positions. You must coach and train and nudge and shove them along the way. It is ok for them to say "I'm studying the issue" or "I'll get back to you," but once you say something it becomes public record. You don't want your clients to hurt their campaigns by saying something that shouldn't have said and would not have been said if they were adequately prepared. The same goes for when you speak to the media as a consultant. Try not to say things which can come back to harm the campaigns you work on.