Burriss: John Brinkley's campaign

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By all accounts this is one of the strangest election campaigns in, well, in history. Everyone seems to be complaining, or at least commenting, about all of the odd goings-on, and apparently none of the candidates can do anything right, no matter what they do.

So I would like to do my part by comparing all of them to an infamous 1930s medical-fraudster-turned-broadcaster-turned-political candidate, John Brinkley.

And here's where the fact checking and spinning, just like today, come into play.

Brinkley received a degree from the Eclectic Medical University, allowing him to practice medicine in eight states. So, did he have a medical degree? Yes he did. Was the degree worth anything? Probably not! So which "fact" are we going to go with?

And no less a newspaper than the "Los Angeles Times" supported his medical experiments!

He also received an honorary degree from a university in Italy, which was later revoked by Benito Mussolini. So Brinkley did receive an honorary degree. That is factually correct. The degree was revoked. That is also factually correct.

So take your pick as to what the "truth" about the degree is.

Brinkley also ran for governor of Kansas, twice. In both elections he polled nearly 30 percent of the votes as a write-in candidate.

But, state officials changed the rules for write-in candidates in the middle of the election, and Brinkley apparently lost in 1930 only because so many of his ballots were disqualified on technicalities such as ballots with "John Brinkley" rather than "J.R. Brinkley."

Eventually Brinkley was investigated by the Post Office Department, the Internal Revenue Service, the American Medical Association, Congress, the Mexican government and the then Federal Radio Commission.

So was he the victim of a government plot against him, or was he simply a fraudster? Well, I guess it just depends on who you ask.

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