Tacoma News Tribune


Employers usually perform some sort of background check on job applicants to make sure that their resumes match up with reality.

That’s only wise; a 2012 study found that more than half of résumés and job applications included falsifications, such as fraudulent degrees.

Consider a different kind of job application. Doesn’t it make sense for voters to be confident in the people they “hire” (read, “elect”) to the Legislature, Congress, or even grass-roots positions on local councils or school boards? Before donating to candidates, wouldn’t you like to know that they don’t have a criminal background and that they’re being honest about their education, background and job history?

As the recent case involving South Sound legislator Graham Hunt showed, candidates can be as tempted to inflate their résumés as any eager job-seeker. But the average voter doesn’t have the ability or resources to do background checks that might find discrepancies in the records of scores of candidates.

Enter Candidate Verification, a Bellevue-based nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works with a national background screening company, Talentwise, to corroborate candidates’ résumés. Background checks cover criminal records and verify education, employment, professional credentials and military service, including medals and tours of duty.

Inflation of military records is one of the more common discrepancies, according to David Doud, executive director of Candidate Verification.

Candidates can sign up for the background checks at no cost and are able to see a copy of the results before authorizing release and inclusion on the Candidate Verification database. A dispute resolution process is available if a candidate challenges any results.

Organizations can partner with Candidate Verification to perform background checks on office-seekers before endorsing or donating to them – with the candidate’s permission. That happened in Tacoma in the November school board election.

Before Stand For Children Washington endorsed, candidates were asked whether they would be willing to undergo a background check. Andrea Cobb, a candidate the group eventually endorsed, was able to cite the background report in her campaign advertising – like a Good Housekeeping seal of approval. Candidates can link their report to online voters guides like Ballotpedia and include it in their fund-raising appeals.

More candidates should take advantage of the service in the run-up to the November election – and challenge their opponents to be as equally transparent. Voters might decide to give extra scrutiny to candidates who refuse background checks.

If Candidate Verification checks become more widespread, that can only help make voters more confident in the political system. It’s disheartening and disillusioning to find out the truth about a candidate only after the election.

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/opinion/editorials/article60965792.html#storylink=cpy