It’s probably just us, but it’s hard for us to imagine that if it had been urban Memphis rather than Germantown that Attorney General Bill Gibbons would have been as cavalier about enforcing campaign laws.

Mix in a name like Ford, and it seems unfathomable that the culprits would essentially be told to say they’re sorry and behave.

And yet, that’s essentially what was done for three Germantown aldermanic candidates, Gary Pruitt, Frank Uhlhorn and Mike Palazzolo who mailed out a ballot resembling the official Shelby County Republican Party ballot, which was not making endorsements in the races. The problem is that contrary to state law, the brochure did not bear the names of its sponsors.

The violation carried with it a misdemeanor conviction and a $50 fine, and while the prosecutor said it would be a lot of work for such a meager result, we thought it was the principle of the thing that mattered.

As we said, we just have trouble seeing that it would have been treated the same if the cast of characters and the area were different. Punishment for the Germantown 3 was that they acknowledge publicly the error of their ways and their responsibilities for the fraudulent ballot.

Local Republican Party Chairman Bill Giannini, in a burst of cynical circular logic, said: “I can tell you plenty of candidates, if they thought the only thing that stood between them and victory, was a class B misdemeanor and a $50 fine, they’d sign up all day long. That is not discouragement.”

Apparently, we’re supposed to believe that a public apology will make them tow the line.