I finally had some time to follow up on this little tidbit, which the TA faithful identified last December (see comments). Soon after Democrat Dan Seals announced his second go-around for the 10th Congressional District race against fourth-term incumbent Congressman Mark Kirk, Seals added to his short list of credentials the position of "adjunct professor" at Northwestern University. Seals's campaign bio states that:
"Currently, Dan is a business consultant and adjunct professor at Northwestern University."
In fact, Seals's list of credentials is so short, often the only reference to his claimed qualifications in the media are these two positions.
Here's an example from today's Daily Herald outlining the views of Seals and his Democratic primary opponent Jay Footlik on the Iraq war. Note that Seals is noted in the article as an adjunct professor at Northwestern, just like on his official bio. And, if all a reporter did was to take Seals' claimed credentials on his bio at face value, that's exactly what he or she would report (but, shame on you, as we will explain below). And, given the reputation of Northwestern as one of the best schools in the nation, a typical 10th District voter would probably conclude that such a teaching credential is fairly impressive, assuming that Northwestern doesn't hire just any meshugana to teach public policy, or any other class.
Well, not so fast.
After no small amount of digging, TA was unable to find any evidence at all that Seals has taught one minute of any class at Northwestern. There is no reference on the Internet, anywhere, to any classes that Seals has taught at Northwestern. Seals' income disclosures that he filed last election cycle show no income from Northwestern University. And Seals did not start claiming to be a professor at Northwestern until this election cycle, as far as TA can tell, as his archived campaign webpages (which are available all the way back to December 2005) make no reference of this claim. For example, here is Seals's bio from the August 6, 2006 snapshot of his campaign website. Notice no claim of being a professor there.
So, where does Seals get off by claiming he is "currently" a professor at Northwestern?
Well, it turns out that Seals has signed up to teach a course at Northwestern's School of Continuing Studies. The course that Seals is instructing is an elective class entitled Special Topics: Federal Policymaking. It meets once a week on Thursday nights. You can view the course offering here, but you have to scroll down almost to the bottom of the page. Unlike almost all of the other courses offered, there is no synopsis of the course available. OK, but so what, you ask?
Well, it turns out this course doesn't even begin until April 1 of this year.
So, despite Seals's well-publicized claim that he is "currently" an adjunct professor, he hasn't yet taught a class, and the only one he is scheduled to teach, as far as we can tell, doesn't start until months after the primary election. And, even better, he and his campaign have been making this claim (loudly and often) since at least October 2007, as noted by our friend EBG. The Dean of the School of Continuing Studies, Joel Shaprio, confirmed to TA that Seals has not yet taught any classes for that part of the college, and again, we simply can't find any evidence that Seals ever actually taught anything at NU, in any other part of the school. We always could be proven wrong, but we await correction from "Professor" Seals.
A less important, but nevertheless significant (when we're talking about credibility), is the issue of whether signing up to teach a single class entitles one to call one's self a "professor." When I went to college, there was a pretty clear dividing line between those academics that were "professors" and other professionals that came in now and again to teach non-core courses (and, believe me, the professors themselves were the ones who jealously guarded that title). These part-time individuals were usually called "instructors" or "lecturers." Now, I'm not going to tell Northwestern what it has to call its contract teachers. But, to the general public, I think calling yourself a professor brings to mind a fairly serious and credible position, and one that is not just handed out to anyone with a master's degree who signs up to teach a night course to other master's degree candidates.
But, the real issue, as I see it, is Seals being disingenuous (at best) or intentionally misrepresenting his current status and experience to pump up his qualifications and mislead the voters? Is this the kind of up-front, honest representation of one's qualifications that we are looking for in a congressman?
This is not the first time we have caught Seals being less than truthful about his employment or credentials. Regular Team America readers will undoubtedly remember the scandal we uncovered back in October 2007 regarding Seals' employment with ThePoint.com website, in which Seals' biography identified him as a "former" candidate (while he had declared for his second run even before ThePoint website went live in September 2007) and ThePoint's "Director of Business Development"--a job which Seals has never admitted or acknowledged in any of his official candidate biographies or press releases. And, as we know, that job that came to a very quiet, unannounced end sometime around Thanksgiving, after only lasting a few months. See here and here.
What is it with Dan Seals that he does not want to acknowledge the employment he has had, and misrepresented employment and credentials that he doesn't have at all (or at best, won't have for some months)? And why isn't the mainstream media doing at least a minimal amount of fact-checking as to the claimed credentials of a candidate? And, finally, where is the Jay Footlik opposition research? (it's only a month until the primary, pal)
Please explain, "Professor" Seals, if you can. Class is in session, and we're waiting to hang on your every word.
UPDATED x1 01/06/08 8:00 a.m.: Here's a article from today's Daily Herald that again blindly touts Seals as an NU adjunct professor (front page, below the fold in the print edition). We should also note that one of our commentors pointed out that Seals even referenced his supposed NU position in the Mount Prospect forum that is the subject of the article. Assuming we are correct about Seals' not actually beginning his teaching gig until April, I think the Herald ought to do a story exposing this issue to its readers, since Seals has gotten months of free press about his unearned credentials.
It's also worth noting that the introduction of the Herald article implies that Mark Kirk was invited but didn't show. Here's a copy of the announcement of the forum in which it was stated that Kirk was invited. The event was hosted by the Mount Prospect Chamber of Commerce. I'll have to check with the Kirk campaign to see if they received the invite and declined.
Updated x2 01.07.08 8:00 a.m.: The Waukegan News-Sun has an article about the Seals-Footlik debates, which TA readers already know all about. The timing of the debates plus Dan Seals' announcement of the opening of his official campaign office enabled the pro-Seals News-Sun to run a photo from the event and basically turn the debate article into a puff piece for Seals.
Does Footlik even have a campaign office? Does anyone care?