Today, the Memphis Commercial Appeal ran an excellent editorial on the issue. It reads as follows:
The Shelby County Republican Party is performing a beneficial service for voters by posting the results of background checks it ordered on candidates running in the May 4 Shelby County primary as Republicans.
It may be that GOP hopefuls happen to look better on background checks than Democrats this election season.
But if that's the case it would not detract from the useful information voters could glean from the reports, which can be found on shelbygop.org.
Democrats should be willing to follow suit. A good idea is a good idea, no matter who thought of it first.
Shelby County Democratic Party chairman Van Turner's description of the exercise as "pointless" seems puzzling.
With Shelby County's recent history of political corruption, epitomized by the Tennessee Waltz FBI sting of 2005, voters would be expected to place a high priority on such issues as criminal convictions.
Voters also have the right to know if candidates have been faced with bankruptcies, foreclosures, tax liens and judgments, which are also listed on the background check reports.
There is plenty of anecdotal evidence from recent history that financial problems place public officials at greater risk of succumbing to the temptations posed by access to public resources.
These are certainly not the only factors in assessing a candidate's suitability for public office, but they should be high on the list.